Adriano represents one of the biggest 'what could have been's?' in football history.
We all know players who had the potential to become an all-time legend but, for one reason or another, fell short of expectations and left fans wondering what might have happened in an alternate reality.
As far as Adriano is concerned, his decline from one of the world's best strikers in the early 2000s to a faded force just years later started with the tragic death of his father in 2004.
The Brazilian turned to alcohol to cope with the grief, ultimately gaining weight and losing fitness to the point he covered up his problems by saying he was injured and eventually went out on loan.
But those early days at Inter Milan are still the stuff of legend, even if some fans only remember him by way of having had 99 shot power on Pro Evolution Soccer 4, 5 and 6.
Adriano's legendary free-kick
Of course, it would be woefully shortsighted to simplify Adriano's game down to how hard he could strike a football, but there's no denying that seeing him hit the sweet spot was a sight to behold.
And of all the rockets that Adriano sent flying past the goalkeeper, arguably one of his first was the best: his Inter debut against Real Madrid in 2001.
That's right, just in case we needed to articulate Adriano's brilliance any clearer, he scored in his first match for Inter at the Bernabeu, the home of the newly-crowned FIFA Club of the Century.
'They said it was going 105 miles per hour'
An absolute thunderbolt of a free-kick, the goal is still talked about today and Adriano even made a startling claim about it during a recent interview with Inter's official website.
“I arrived at the Bernabeu. I was wearing Inter’s shirt, Real were the opponents. It was like a dream," the 38-year-old recalled.
“I didn’t need anything more. I went onto the pitch and didn’t think about anything, I played as if I were on that dusty field in Vila Cruzeiro.
“I worked, I played with skill, I did everything. I won a free-kick and the bench said I should take it.
“Do you remember the left foot that used to train on the street and at home, the one that drove my mother crazy? I introduced him to the world with that free-kick. They said it was going 105 miles per hour!”
Does it hold the world record?
So... is Adriano's goal at the Bernabeu the hardest strike in football history? Sadly, probably not.
As far as the Guinness World Records are concerned, that title belongs to Spaniard Francisco Javier Galan Marin who is listed as having struck a football at 80 miles per hour.
But if Adriano's first strike for Inter travelled as quickly as he said it did, then perhaps Guinness have an imposter in their annuals and Adriano would take their place if they had the technology to prove it.
World record or not, though, we're happy to allow the Real goal as proof that Adriano deserved his 99 shot-power in the virtual world and his unbelievable talent in the real one.
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