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Adriano struggling to find suitors after Roma departure

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Tim Vickery | 08:47 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

When Roma signed Brazilian striker Adriano last year, the club directors may as well have lit their cigars with high denomination banknotes or poured their money down a rathole. They were quite happy to tear up his contract earlier this month and received no money in return.

This, though, is not the story of a player unable to adapt to life in a foreign country.

For a good five years, Adriano was a top-class striker in Italian football, a giant centre forward with a howitzer left foot that was also capable of surprising subtlety. And yet, at 29 and theoretically at his peak, he seems unlikely to play in Europe again. Only a very brave or foolhardy European club would give yet another chance to a player who has been wasting them for the last five years.

Adriano is an extreme example of one of the striking features of contemporary football - inconsistency at the top level of the game.

Adriano failed to make an impact at Roma after signing for the club amid much fanfare.

Adriano failed to make an impact at Roma after signing for the club amid much fanfare

His life story shows how great the gap has become from being a successful professional to relative anonymity. A poor kid from Rio's notorious Vila Cruzeiro favela, Adriano has earned fabulous sums of money through his skill on the football field, but this process has left him walking a tightrope that keeps getting narrower.

On the one hand, the rewards for playing top-class football are greater than ever before, meaning that so too are the temptations. On the other hand, with the physical development of the game, the sacrifices needed in order to shine are also at unprecedented levels.

For years Adriano was prepared to make those sacrifices and he paid a high price for his desire to break into the Brazil side. He played in the Confederations Cup in 2003 and '05, the 2004 Copa America and then the World Cup two years later. It is hard to think of many European players who would be willing to do the same, especially as in between these tournaments there were long flights home for World Cup qualifiers.

All of these tournaments ate into his time for rest and relaxation. It may seem an unlikely comparison, but Adriano was like a butterfly broken on the wheel of an over-crowded fixture calendar.

For all his physical strength, there is something of the lost, sweet-eyed child in Adriano. It became apparent after the premature loss of his father, whose death was hastened by the fact that he had a bullet lodged in his skull after being caught in the middle of a shoot-out.

Adriano has confessed that he was terrified by the thought of becoming the man of the family. And there was something else: his great motivations to play football were to make his father happy and, of course, to make money. Now, with his father gone and his bank balance bulging, what was the point?

The sacrifices of the life of an athlete, once part of his routine, were now an unbearable limitation. Why bother with training when he could drink, either to mourn the loss of his dad or to celebrate the fact that he could buy all the drink that he wanted.

Alex Ferguson says that, for a top-class player, every game is a statement of his own worth. It is a magnificent quote and, especially for the mentally fragile, a stressful way of life. Forced to put themselves on the line twice a week in front of an audience of millions, it is not hard to imagine why most players enjoyed the game more before they were professional - or why some choose to measure their worth in other ways, such as their nocturnal activities.

The tragedy, of course, is that their talent has a sell-by date. In a decade's time, someone like Adriano will be able to go where he likes, with whoever he likes to wherever he likes. But he will surely feel better about himself if he can legitimately believe that he took his footballing talent as far as it could go.

He has surely come to the end of the road in Europe, but that does not mean that Adriano will not be handed yet another opportunity to redeem himself. Things have not gone as he would have liked after he effectively forced his way out of Roma.

He expected that Flamengo of Rio would welcome him back with open arms - he came up through the ranks with the club, and came back in 2009 to help them to the domestic title.

Last year, though, before joining Roma, it was felt that he led the squad astray. Now they have a big time idol in Ronaldinho, and a coach (Vanderlei Luxemburgo) who is very reluctant to have his boat rocked.

There has been some talk of Corinthians, the Sao Paulo giants. The recently retired Ronaldo still has considerable influence with the club, and has apparently been using it to push Adriano's claims. Here again there is resistance, especially as Corinthians have recently - and with immediate success - brought back Liedson from Portugal.

Three years ago Adriano spent some time on loan with Sao Paulo FC, but that door seems closed since the club have signed World Cup striker Luis Fabiano. Cruzeiro have been looking for a centre forward - but have just agreed a loan deal with Brandao of Marseilles.

Maybe Adriano made a simple miscalculation. Several years ago Brazilian football was so short of big names that he could dictate his terms. That is no longer the case. The economic boom and the strength of the currency are bringing some stars back across the Atlantic. Adriano has not been able to waltz back in to a major club.

Plenty could have changed, though, by the time the national championship kicks off in two month's time. Flamengo, for instance, could do with a target man, and at the weekend a group of supporters staged a demonstration in favour of Adriano.

If not them, some other big Brazilian club will find themselves under pressure for results and will go looking for Adriano - hoping against hope that they are signing the proven goalscorer, and not the proven troublemaker.

Please leave comments on the piece in the space provided. Send your questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) Just wondering if you could shed any light on a rumour I heard from an Argentinian friend on Riquelme's situation with Boca? He told me he had been sacked from the club for constantly being unfit. Is there any truth in this? He is a River Plate fan and perhaps it is just wishful thinking. How well is he playing in Argentina since his move back?
Craig McFarlane

A) I think we can destroy that rumour, since Riquelme played on Sunday, back after his latest injury. Boca lost again, though, 2-0 at home, and their situation is not good at all. Riquelme has indeed struggled for fitness for a while, but now he is back it is going to be fascinating to see how he gets on with latest coach Falcioni, who is not known for his use of number 10 playmakers.

Much as I enjoy watching him, I was never convinced by the decision to bring Riquelme back on a definitive basis in 2008 - it brought to an end a model which had worked very well for Boca for a decade.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    nice

  • Comment number 2.

    It's a shame that Adriano's career has dwindled so dramatically. Early peaks for strikers are becoming ever more common as the number of games and huge pressures have a massive impact on young bodies. Adriano was fantastic at Parma, (as was Veron) but never really fulfilled his potential at inter. To carry on playing up front at a high level your desire an hunger to stay physically in top condition has to be phenomenal nowadays. You also need a healthy dose of luck with regards to injuries.

    Great blog Tim, enjoyed it as always!

    Http://www.inofftheghost.com

  • Comment number 3.

    When he was in his prime he was great. Its such a shame that events off the field (i.e. the death of his father) have catalysed his apparent fall.
    He could rediscover himself in Brazil, as other old Giants have, and he is only 29.
    Has a magnificent strike with all the power you could ask for.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    It seems yet another waste of talent from a south anerican footballer who had the world at his feet, at one of the best clubs in the world who couldn't handle the pressure/fame. Obviously there are other circumstances with Adriano because of his father, but it yet again highlights the problem south americans seem to face in Europe. I don't know what to attribute it too, but i imagine a certain part of it might be due to not being prepared well enough in Brazil for success and potential failure. I imagine players like Messi at Barcelona and Fabio and Rafael at United will stand a better chance because they've been at those clubs for years and since they were young and will have had better preparation and tutoring than players developed at south american clubs. Maybe this is a harsh reflection of these clubs.

    On another note, it is interesting to see the Brazilian football market booming, with so many big name players heading back there. It's not just those who cannot get a big club in europe anymore either, as Luis Fabiano's move highlights. There was talk not long ago of Spurs and Milan after him but he's chosen to go home. Will be interesting to see over the next couple of years whether this continues and more stars head back and fewer talented youngsters heading over to Europe. Santos seem to have done a good job holding onto Neymar and Ganso so far, when maybe in the past they would have been expected/forced to sell.

  • Comment number 6.

    An interesting article tim, why do you think it is that so many brazilian players are heading back home? I was really surprised with luis fabiano's choice to go back to sao paulo as his goalscoring record at sevilla speaks for itself, he may have had injuries but why didnt he go to another european club? It wasnt so long ago after the world cup that he was being linked with all the top clubs in europe and as recently as january their was rumours surrounding a bid from harry redknapp.

  • Comment number 7.

    'Bullet lodged in his skull'
    Just a tad insensitive eh, you don't know this man, stop playing therapist and get back to analysing actual football related stories and leave the poor guy alone.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great blog!!

    Is it just me or is this becoming the norm amongst high profile Brazilian players. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Adriano, Denilson etc have all had rapid descents from greatness. Granted in some cases injury may well have played apart, but something seems to suggest that they eventually begin to struggle with the fame, notiriaty and pressure which is placed on their shoulders.

  • Comment number 9.

    Probably go and play in the UAE

  • Comment number 10.

    7. At 11:14am on 21 Mar 2011, blueforlife wrote:
    'Bullet lodged in his skull'
    Just a tad insensitive eh, you don't know this man, stop playing therapist and get back to analysing actual football related stories and leave the poor guy alone.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The guy got shot in the head, Tim was just stating a fact. If this was a tv programme or on the news you wouldn't be calling it insensitive then would you?

    You seem like the sought of person who reads these blogs just to write cr$p comments about its writer. There are lots of you out there and if you dislike these blogs so much go on another website.

  • Comment number 11.

    I can fully sympathise with how the loss of a family member can have a profound impact on your life, but sympathy can only go so far for so long. In any job an employer will usually do everything in his power to help you through such a difficult time, but frankly if this period stretches into years then you clearly need to sort out some deeper personal issues, for which the employer quite rightly should not be obliged to take responsibility. Adriano is a professional footballer, supported by his various clubs and fans alike, and is paid very handsomely as a result. And why is he paid? Because it's his job, and if he can't perform that job to the best of his ability then it's probably time to find a new one. It isn't always easy to separate work and family life, especially when you constantly live in the public eye, but it reaches a point where you either have to accept reality and responsibility or something has to give. For Adriano it appears that in the end this is all just too much for him.

    Just as an aside, and I by no means want to hijack this blog, but in another blog about the only openly gay footballer in the world why is it closed for comments? I wanted to offer my congratulations to the player and to the article, but it appears that the author/regulators is too afraid that the blog will be overrun with negative comments. This is a sad state of affairs indeed. Why go to the trouble of championing such bravery only to resign yourself to the fact that most people are probably going to have a problem with it. Credit us with more than that please, BBC.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Tim,

    With the world cup being in Brazil in 2014, how much of a draw is that for players who are heading back home to play domestically ? For someone like Fabiano or Ronaldinho (or maybe even Adriano)would they feel that a string of strong performances in the Brazilian league might get them back into the national team set up rather than remaining in Europe ?

  • Comment number 13.

    DP - the following quote:-
    "'Bullet lodged in his skull"
    is surely a statement of fact - not some kind of psychobabble. I mean, if the blogger had said that Adriano's father suffered separation anxiety, or was affected by bouts of depression that may have been brought on by the adjustment from poverty to riches then you may have had a point - although what's the point of blogging if you can't speculate a bit?
    However:-
    'Bullet lodged in his skull'..
    ..isn't amateur mind reading. Is it? It's just saying he had a bullet lodged in his skull. Unless the blogger meant it as an analogy where the 'bullet' is not real, but a nugget of worry relating to an unknown childhood experience. But I don't think he did. I think he was saying that the bloke had. Ahem. A 'Bullet lodged in his skull'.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'd just like to say that if I had one season at, say, Liverpool. And at the end of that season I had, say, £3m. That would be the end of me as a player. I just wouldn't accept the training - but even more so, being bossed about.
    I have every sympathy for anyone who makes a packet and then loses focus. It's carrying on grafting that makes no sense to me. I hope one day to test my theory.

  • Comment number 15.

    I too echo the sentiments of others at the sadness of waste of talent in Adriano. Of course there are counter arguments about lifestyles and attitudes of modern pro footballers etc. But, those arguments aside, it is strange to see Adriano undergoing such difficulties...

    I remember seeing him play for Inter in the Emirates Cup a few years ago. This was an Inter side that we full of excellent players. Stankovic and Zanetti played with purpose as the weather and high quality nature of all opponents gave the teams a chance to exercise a little creativity. He came on for Inter with 30 mins to go and it was like bringing on someone like Thierry Henry into a League One game - the gulf was huge. His first touch was excellent, he was moving sharply despite his large frame even then, the Howitzer left foot was on show from all ranges and he linked up play well and moved quickly. This was a player standing out hugely amongst a team full of world class players. I genuinely felt that that year could have been it for Adriano, that was the time for him to step on and reinvigorate his career. It never happened - but I will always remember his appearance then. Whilst it was not a competitive game, he swept almost everyone aside without even trying that day... Just a shame he couldn't bring that out more often.

  • Comment number 16.

    Thanks Tim for reminding us the human side of the game. These are the stories that are not often told. Players, no matter how talented they are, are human beings after all. And their success comes at a very early age, which makes them more vulnerable to a break down. And in recent years we are noticing more and more of the top level players are going through some real tough times. They have all the money in the world, but is it enough of a substitute for a lost childhood or a family belonging or lack of privacy even.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ #8 dave parker

    Interesting point you make.

    Is this to do with the mentality of the individual or the physiology of the athlete?

    Such players often relied on bursts of energy, sheer extravagance and explosive actions. Possibly these are things that diminish with age, but research has not been done to establish this?

    Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen are other examples but they had their injury problems too.

    I believe Tim has missed out on the fact that the World Cup of 2006 would have had a huge impact on the fragile mind of Adriano. He disappointed massively in that tournament where he was expected to shine. Since then he has been on a very downward spiral

  • Comment number 18.

    @5 LeeTUFC

    "...yet again highlights the problem south americans seem to face in Europe..."

    a generalisation, isn't it?

    There are hundreds of Brazilians and other South Americans that are well adapted in Europe - the vast majority of them having very poor upbringings. Adriano himself came to Europe very young and was quite successful in his initial years. I think these stories of success far outweigh the number of South Americans that don't adapt.

    Please note that the recent influx of Brazilians back to their homeland has got a lot more to do with the fact that clubs in Brazil have a new found wealth, with the valuation of the currency and bigger sponsorship and TV deals, fuelled by the growth of the local economy, than with diffculty in adaptation.

  • Comment number 19.

    @ #8 DAVE PARKER

    I think you have a very valid point, in fact I would challenge anyone to name five brazilian players who have actually performed to their expectation for more than a few years in europe. Players like ronaldihno gaucho and ronaldo could have probably been up there with pele, maradona if it wasnt for their abrupt decline. Also i dont think its about the money i.e. going from rags to riches and not been able to handle the drastic change, as Kaka comes from a very rich family and yet his drop in form is alarming.

  • Comment number 20.

    Tim,

    I've been intrigued by the recent trend among Brazilian players returning to the domestic championship: men like Deco, Ronaldinho and Luis Fabiano may be past their prime, but could still have performed at a high level in Europe for a few more years at least. Obviously, it's to do with money, and I'm wondering whether you believe we might in the not too distant future experience a time when Brazilian clubs can compete for South American (and possibly also European) talent at its very peak?

  • Comment number 21.

    Good article... probably in no other example is the downward slide more obvious than in the case of Adriano, but by the same token... the story of the Brazilian Super-Talent who comes to Europe, discovers nightclubs, girls and booze is getting to be a bit of cliche as well (Ronaldinho, Ronaldo) --- the only one that didn't succumb to these temptations seems to be Luis Fabiano, who I always thought was way too humble for a Brazilian Superstar.

    Adriano though should be able to find a suitor, if not in Brazil, how about Argentina? He's got that "Martin Palermo" modern-era striker build to him that Argentina loves.

  • Comment number 22.

    "but Adriano was like a butterfly broken on the wheel of an over-crowded fixture calendar."

    " It became apparent after the premature loss of his father, whose death was hastened by the fact that he had a bullet lodged in his skull..."

    Were you writing this from the pub, or just confused whether it was your novel or your football blog you were working on?

  • Comment number 23.

    It's not just Adriano, but Ronaldinho, Jardel, Rivaldo etc who appear to fall from grace big time in their late twenties. It appears to happen to Brazilians more than any other nationalities.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ #18 AlexAD

    Yes, it was a bit of a generalisation i admit, but there have been numerous examples of South American players who have struggled in Europe. There have been several players who were excellent for a couple of years, who then lose their way before they hit what should be the peak of their careers, ie Ronaldinho, Adriano, Riquelme. Then there are others who come across with brilliant repuatations who flatter to decieve, such as Denilson, Recoba, Robinho. I know there have been successful players who have sustained longer careers, such as Ronaldo and Deco, but even these arguably had their issues too and finished at the highest European level before they could/should have. There does seem to be a general trend for a number of South American players to struggle to sustain a long career across the Atlantic.

    I also accept that several of them are heading back now because of increased money back in Brazil, but does this not also say something about their nature? I know this is a very Euro-centric view, but for greatest success and exposure, Europe is the place to play. Maybe this will change over the years with Brazil becoming a more economic vibrant place, and I actually would like to see more success outside of europe for clubs, but right now it appears to be a monetary issue driving them back as well as struggling to adapt, rather than wanting to achieve success. I might be wrong, and I hope I am.

  • Comment number 25.

    I saw an article on here a couple of years ago about Cristiano Ronaldo's attitude. It was pointed out that when everyone has told you how fantastic you are ever since you were about 12, then you believe your own hype. I'm sure most footballers are like that, fantastically self-absorbed people who feel like they can walk on water.

    I think Adriano is one of those people who are only too aware of how fickle life and indeed football is, and has been waiting to fail because psychologically he feels like he doesn't deserve success. Some people seem to take every criticism, every negative aspect of life personally, and are too fragile to cope.

    If Adriano had the arrogance of a C. Ronaldo or the bullishness of a Rooney or a Gattuso, then he'd still be one of the best. It's a shame that his own demons have destroyed him.

  • Comment number 26.

    I don't think he's ever been in the bracket of other modern Brazilian 'greats'such as Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldihno. I think modern image rights such as the Nike sponsorship, the fact his image promoted most of the best selling computer games contibuted to us having his ability somewhat exaggerated.

  • Comment number 27.

    Agree with #11, if you go through something that traumatic, you can go either way. Robinho got through that difficult time when his mother was kidnapped back in Argentina though:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_football/4023087.stm
    I was at the Waldstadion in 2005 to watch Adriano tear Argentina's defence apart - he scored 2 and ran riot the entire game in a thundering rainstorm. I remember it well as the canvas roof ripped off in 1 corner, pouring rainwater all over a bank of photographers in front of where we were seated! Would be a crying shame if such a talented player was to waste away at what should be his career peak. Hope he gets a deal somewhere in Brazil where he can feel at home and be closer to his family.

  • Comment number 28.

    I wonder if Adriano was the mystery big name player that Sven was considering signing for Leicester last month, only to decide not to due to huge wage demands? Sven was strongly linked with Adriano when he was in charge of Man City.

  • Comment number 29.

    I feel sorry for the guy for his personal troubles but thats as far as my sympathy goes.. he is meant to be an athlete and couldnt keep himself fit. He had and still has an excellent talent that millions across the globe loved to watch and also would give their right arm to be able to do.. he was paid large amounts of money and only sporadically done his job.

    The article highlights a few times his bulging bank balance.. this should have been motivation enough for a guy that grew up with nothing as he was being paid and not performing or trying.. unforgiveable.

  • Comment number 30.

    @24 Lee,

    I don't think it is Euro-centric to imagine playing in the big European teams is the pinnacle of a footballer's career - it is a simple fact. However the players that are returning have either already achieved European glory - Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho - or have played succesfully in Europe for many years but have already accepted their careers won't go any further - Liedson, Luis Fabiano. Who would not want to be home, with family and friends, earning the same amount of money?

    so Ronaldinho lost his way before he reached the peak? He was twice world footballer of the year, lead his club to the Champions League and halped Brazil to the WC... as for Adriano, Riquelme...well, there are many examples of players that show promise and dont seem to fully materialise that, but that includes players of any nationality - Michael Owen? Ibrahimovic? Rooney even - has yet to fulfill all expectations on him... so I cant see why being South American has anything to do with it.

    And to the bloke at @19 challenging anyone to name 5 Brazilians that performed up to their expectations for more than a few years...please...name how many players won more than once the World Player of the year award? very few. That is a simple evidence that it is quite hard, for anyone regardless of nationality, to be at very top during more than a couple of years. Actually, two Brazilians are amongst the very few who won it more than once - Ronaldinho and Ronaldo - so there goes your case down the drain.

    Many footballers, Brazilians included, have had solid long careers in Europe when they are not required to be the star player at all times - Lucio, Aldair, Juninho Pernanmbucano, Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Dida, Leonardo, Cerezo, Falcao, Mauro Silva, Marcos Senna, Deco, have I named more than 5?

  • Comment number 31.

    @30 - You forgot Kleberson and Anderson.

    Oh wait....

  • Comment number 32.

    8. At 11:15am on 21st Mar 2011, dave parker wrote:
    Great blog!!

    Is it just me or is this becoming the norm amongst high profile Brazilian players. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Adriano, Denilson etc have all had rapid descents from greatness. Granted in some cases injury may well have played apart, but something seems to suggest that they eventually begin to struggle with the fame, notiriaty and pressure which is placed on their shoulders
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not just Brazilian. Also I would not say Ronaldo had a rapid descent from greatness. He stayed at the top fairly impressively considering he had serious knee injuries. Denilson was never a great player in the first place. Adriano had 3 good seasons with Parma and Inter but has failed to remain consistent, it's not unheard of.

    I can give you an english example of what has happened with Adriano: Paul Gascoigne, and there are countless others from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

    Ariel Ortega from Argentina is another good example.

    Although Adriano is not as good a player as George Best, Gascoigne and Ariel Ortega were, his problems are the same as theirs- depression and alcoholism.

  • Comment number 33.

    Great read as always.

    I know Europe isn't exactly free of this sort of story, but it really seems to be a problem that effects the big names of South American football. Such a tragedy given the talent produced.

  • Comment number 34.

    30. At 13:17pm on 21st Mar 2011, AlexAD wrote:
    well, there are many examples of players that show promise and dont seem to fully materialise that, but that includes players of any nationality - Michael Owen? Ibrahimovic? Rooney even - has yet to fulfill all expectations on him... so I cant see why being South American has anything to do with it.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Michael Owen has won European Footballer of the Year, scored over 40 goals for England and the clubs he's played for have been Real Madrid, Liverpool and Man Utd.

    Ibrahimovic has that record of winning the league title in the last consecutive 7 seasons at his clubs.

    Rooney has won 70 odd caps for England, 3 league titles, the Champions League, been top scorer etc.

    How on earth are these examples of players who 'have not fulfilled expectations'. What expectations? That they would be better than Maradona and Pele? Come off it. None of them are slumming it, are they? They're not over the hill (well, apart from Owen) and playing for pub teams dreaming of what could have been.

  • Comment number 35.

    Always a shame to see someone fail to make the most of their natural talents for as long as possible..though to be fair he has won more trophies than most even if the very highest honours (ie. World Cup, Champions League) have eluded him.

    Talking about his mental fragility, I think it was in one of your previous articles that you compared Adriano with Kaka and pointed out that Adriano's poverty-stricken background has probably made it that much more difficult for him to adapt to the playboy life-style he enjoyed as a result of becoming a highly paid footballer in Europe.

    With the amount of money there now appears to be sloshing about the Brazilian top-flight, do you think that the ability for top clubs to keep their wonderkids at home for longer will have a positive effect on them by keeping them closer to the environment they grew up in..or will their old friends and hangers-on mean it's actually more difficult to cope with the money and fame at home than it would be abroad?

  • Comment number 36.

    Since my comment #8 I have thought a little more about it and come to realise that there are so many players who have led similar paths to Adriano some at incredibly young age.

    Carlos Alberto for example won the portuguese league and champions league with Porto at the age of 20, he even scored the first goal in the final. Still only 26 he has had a patchy career playing for many brazilian clubs and was Werder Bremen's record signing in 2007, he played only 2 games though.

    Geovanni once of Man City and Hull. Had great talent and at Barcelona was seen as the next sensation. It never happened though and to me he all always looked as if he couldn't be bothered to fulfill his talent.

    Fabio Rochembach who similar to Geovanni was at Barca and talked about as the next best thing. With a stint at Middlesborough along the way, this man who was once talked of as a future national team captain let his career decline. Emerson was another who was at Boro who had a similar attitude.

    Others that spring to mind are guys such as Derlei and Flávio Conceição who played for big clubs won major trophies.

    Is it down to the backgrounds of these players? I dont want to stereotype in anyway but is it because they come from such poor backgrounds and then suddenly have this celebrity lifestyle? I just cant get my head around why so many Brazilians who are so talented but waste it, and in a lot of cases seem to have such poor attitudes and no appetite for the game. Its like they see themselves above everybody else and think they can rely on there talent and not put the graft in, then at a certain age it catches up with them. Robinho is an example of a player who it hasn't caught up with yet but may well do.

    I dont know, it just bemuses me.

  • Comment number 37.

    @34, mate, mine was a reply to aguy saying Ronaldinho, Riquelme and Adriano never "reached their peak". So you are saying agreeing that these 3 haven't however Owen, Ibra and Rooney have? ok.

    and @31...yes, you're mocking denilson and anderson - so you believe they are flops. So what? Did I say 100% of Brazilians succeed? My point is that South Americans have the same degree of success - obviously with some failures as well.

  • Comment number 38.

    Talking about his mental fragility, I think it was in one of your previous articles that you compared Adriano with Kaka and pointed out that Adriano's poverty-stricken background has probably made it that much more difficult for him to adapt to the playboy life-style he enjoyed as a result of becoming a highly paid footballer in Europe.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    At 35. It's an easy stereotype to make that a poor kid from a favela can't cope with money and fame.

    Pele was a poor kid from a slum and he coped with his superstar status as a footballer of the past few decades like a duck to water. He may not have earned as much money as modern players but he was comparatively well rewarded and carried the hopes of his nation as a player, and has remained a celebrity in retirement.

    Coping with pressure/adulation: It's got nothing to do with your background or even your level of education- you can be a rich kid and go off the rails too. It's about your personality and upbringing in terms of the values and type of support your family give you.

    The idea if you're a slum kid then you must be stupid and easily led, have dodgy friends, and naturally drawn to material distractions is a lazy, lazy stereotype.

    Its the character of the person that is important, and sometimes an individual's immediate environment and life events they have no control of can affect them negatively too.

  • Comment number 39.

    #30 Alex

    I accept your point about Ronaldo and Ronaldinho achieving a very high level of success. My point is not about them achieving success, but about achieving success over a long period. Its generally accepted that a players peak period should be their late twenties, early thirties, but both of these players started to struggle around this period, because they were partying too much and not training as hard. The same with Riquelme, though he was never as good as either of the first two.

    I will acknowledge there have been players who have had successful long careers in Europe, such as Roberto Carlos, though he would have had less chance of a lavish lifestyle because there was (slightly) less money and temptation when he as a younger player.

    I also accept there have been european players who have been the same. Owen was unlucky with injuries. I think he could have been a great player but he has really struggled and it's a shame he never went as high as he could have. His international record is fantastic, despite hardly playing much over the last few years. Ibrahimovic has always flattered to decieve, though there has been successes with Inter and Barca, and by all accounts he's doing okay at Milan. Shevchenko is possibly a notable other, losing his way at Chelsea when he should have been peaking after success at Milan.

    I just think there seems to be more examples of South americans losing their way, though I accept it could be because its more publicised. I think a lot of the time it comes down to dealing personal issues and adapting to success, which i think south americans have less warning about and preparation for.

  • Comment number 40.

    36. At 13:42pm on 21st Mar 2011, dave parker wrote:
    Is it down to the backgrounds of these players? I dont want to stereotype in anyway but is it because they come from such poor backgrounds and then suddenly have this celebrity lifestyle? I just cant get my head around why so many Brazilians who are so talented but waste it, and in a lot of cases seem to have such poor attitudes and no appetite for the game
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Brazil exports more players to other countries than any other nation. You can make your same argument with players from any other country. You also gloss over the fact that those players you mention have had successful periods in their career and won things, that is something not every player is lucky enough to achieve! There are plenty of consistent and highly rated Brazilian players at the top of the sport that I can't be bothered to list for you. There are even some (shock! horror!) who work hard. The rise and decline of footballers is a natural part of the game, it's a competitive industry.

  • Comment number 41.

    Reminds me of Swede Thomas Brolin from the 1990's

  • Comment number 42.

    39. At 13:49pm on 21st Mar 2011, LeeTUFC wrote:
    #30 Alex

    I accept your point about Ronaldo and Ronaldinho achieving a very high level of success. My point is not about them achieving success, but about achieving success over a long period. Its generally accepted that a players peak period should be their late twenties, early thirties, but both of these players started to struggle around this period, because they were partying too much and not training as hard. The same with Riquelme, though he was never as good as either of the first two

    I will acknowledge there have been players who have had successful long careers in Europe, such as Roberto Carlos, though he would have had less chance of a lavish lifestyle because there was (slightly) less money and temptation when he as a younger player.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Roberto Carlos was playing for Inter Milan and Real Madrid at the start of his career. He was earning a fair wage and playing in big time football. How is his case different, just because it doesn't fit your (incorrect) theory?

    Riquelme was never a party animal, just has a lazy style like Matt Le Tissier. Ronaldo had injuries which affected his ability to train but he was still class!

    Maicon? Lucio? Rivaldo? Bebeto? Romario? Aldair? Ricardo Gomes? Cafu? Mauro Silva? Dunga?

    All top players, all Brazilians. All had consistent long careers at the top level in recent times and in the recent past, and all these examples contradict your view.

  • Comment number 43.

    "In a decade's time, someone like Adriano will be able to go where he likes, with whoever he likes to wherever he likes."

    "where he likes... wherever he likes"? Talk about limitless boundaries!

  • Comment number 44.

    @39 Lee,

    you said it - they are more under the spotlight. A stereotype seems to have been created in which Brazilian players are more prone to be corrupted by partying. IMO this theory does not hold water. For one partying Brazilian player there are 15,20 who just go on about their business - and I don't think the explanation is because only a few make a lot of money. C'mon - a player at a top club, even if not the team's superstar, earns enough to live as lavishly as he wants.

  • Comment number 45.

    He reminds me of Michael Ricketts....

  • Comment number 46.

    40#

    I completely understand your comments and dont doubt that it happens in all countries and that there are many successful hard working Brazilian players.

    My point is Italy, England, Germany etc do not produce anywhere the amount of highly skilled players as Brazil. You may not agree but I think it is true. Out of these top individuals are high number only seem to produce for 5 or 6 six years at the top level. They may win some trophies but then they seem to relax and think that this is enough. Its like a team who scores a goal and then just sits back. Its like they dont want to acheive there full potential.

    I am not saying all Brazilian players are like this but I am suprised at how many there are. For every Paul Gascoigne that England has produced, Brazil has produced a Jardel, Carlos Alberto and Geovanni if you catch my drift.

  • Comment number 47.

    @blueforlife 11:14

    Not sure why you bothered commenting. 1. It is football related - it's about a footballer and his relationship with football 2. He's not bothering him, he's written an article about him 3. He's not 'playing therapist' because he's not sat in a room with Adriano trying to analyse and rectify any emotional or psychological problems he may or may not have 4. Most journalists don't 'know' their subjects as you seem to be suggesting this one should but that doesn't mean they can't write article about them 5. I agree the comment could be seen as a little insensitive but I assume Adriano is unlikely to read it.

    Of course, you're entitled to your opinions.

    I quite enjoyed the article - it was certainly more interesting than the latest transfer 'news' drivel to which we're now constantly subjected and articles telling us that Wayne Rooney has fallen out with SAF again or John Terry thinks Capello is a great guy now he's given him the armband back.

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi Tim

    Going back to the question posed about Riquleme it does appear that he will cost Falcioni his job. Falcioni is in an incredibly difficult situation after last night's latest disaster. Boca were awful and it looks like Erviti will spend some time on the sidelines. As a Boca fan told me a few weeks ago the job at Boca is an "electric chair".
    It is easy to blame the situation on Riquelme but he does not look interested nor motivated but as you say Falcioni does not have much time for the enganche role.If he drops Riquelme then he has the crowd against him, if he doesn't he has a passenger on the field of play, albeit still capable of flashes of brilliance.
    Tactically he needs to drop Palermo and go for a more youthful and mobile forward line but in doing so it would turn the crowd against him, if they are not already against him. The fans appeared livid last night. Palermo has been a legend but his time was up after the World Cup, he should have bowed out gracefully then.
    There are too many divisions within that club and it is very apparent when you see the players body language and performance on the field of play.
    Bianchi was wise when he turned the position down last year, he will know that you can only sort that club out when Riquelme and Palermo are out of the equation, such is their influence. And it pains me to say that as for me Riquelme is one of the best players to come out of Argentina, an incredible talent, but maybe a player who finds himself the victim of a changing attitude towards tactics and style of play, not only in Argentina but in the world. If you look at formations and systems from the teams that played this weekend then not many play with that classic No 10 role.

    Rules changed. Game stays the same...

  • Comment number 49.

    Great blog. Such a shame to see such great talent go to waste.

    I really hope that current young South American talent (e.g. Paulo Henrique Ganso) don't end up the same way.

  • Comment number 50.

    @46 Dave,

    I am not sure I catch your drift mate - so you're saying that for one English party animal footballer we produce 3 is that it? For the same token for one Bobby Charlton Brazil produced a Pele, a Romario, a Zico, a Rivelino, a Tostao, a Jairzinho etc etc etc. Perhaps the drunk to success ratio is even worse in this country...

  • Comment number 51.

    As someone with a soft spot for Roma, I always thought this transfer was a massive gamble, but I didn't think it would go this badly wrong!

    Tim, with Brazil's economy growing, and all these top players returning home early surely the clubs will be able to command more cash from TV deals? This in turn should allow them to i) hold on to their young talent for longer and ii) cream off the top talent from other South American countries. Which will result in a stronger league, which means more TV money and so on... Do you feel this model is realistic?

  • Comment number 52.

    @#42 Vox Populi

    Whilst I accept your points, there is no need to be patronising about it. I never meant all South american players. If you read my earlier comments i apologise for making such a generalisation. Yes, there have been successful players with long careers as you say, my point is that more south americans than players from other countries tend to lose focus and drift off, not all of them. I accept that this may be becasue its publicised more, as blogs by Tim do, but surely there is no smoke without fire?

    @#44 alex

    I don't think it's just money, but the success and exposure that comes with being a top player. A top player at a big club will be more well-known and are likely to be focus of much more attention, which with the money they have, leads to temptation. I believe players from south America are more prown to being tempted by this because of the poor backgrounds they come from, and the lack of preparation they are given at dealing with things. I think that is why there are usually more cases from South america.

  • Comment number 53.

    50. At 14:27pm on 21st Mar 2011, AlexAD wrote:
    @46 Dave,

    I am not sure I catch your drift mate - so you're saying that for one English party animal footballer we produce 3 is that it? For the same token for one Bobby Charlton Brazil produced a Pele, a Romario, a Zico, a Rivelino, a Tostao, a Jairzinho etc etc etc. Perhaps the drunk to success ratio is even worse in this country...
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Firstly I was talking about players who wasted their talents, not the reason why! I wasn't suggesting that these players wasted their talent because of drink, drugs or gambling just that they all wasted their talent. Paul Gascoigne is the most high profile British player who was truly world class and wasted the talent he was gifted with, hence why he was used in my example.

    And as far as your other point goes I totally agree. For every Bobby Charlton Brazil have produced 5 or 6 six world class players. Over time they have clearly produced many more world class players than any other nation. I think that makes my point even more valid, as the young Brazilians have had so many truly world class players they could idolise and follow the example of, why do so many let there talent slip away.

    I haven't tried to answer the question, just made a few suggestions. I dont know the answer and appreciate all sides of the arguement.

  • Comment number 54.

    "....especially as in between these tournaments there were long flights home for World Cup qualifiers."

    I find this an odd observation to make. To be a top sportsman you have to be dedicated, I'm not sure why a few long flights to play for his country should be perceived as any problem, or indeed to have an effect on his career.

  • Comment number 55.

    Look like everyone has forgotten about Rodrigo Possebon, where is he now? Is he still playing?

  • Comment number 56.

    @55 - I believe he is playing for Santos now, though he isn't a regular starter.

    With regards to the blog, Adriano seems a bit like Ronaldo, once they had got the money in the bank and, in the case of Ronaldo, the trophies, they stopped caring. Fair enough if Adriano was only in it for the money then he has made enough to retire on so why bother? I think though that it is unfair on the teams he signs for to have this attitude and that if he doesn't want to be a professional athlete any more then he should just quit.

  • Comment number 57.

    56# i think your comment about ronaldo is a little unfair !! Serious injuries and a medical complaint that means he struggles to keep weight off hindered Ronaldo in the latter half of his career...not a lack of desire

  • Comment number 58.

    @57 - true, maybe a bit harsh, but I do think that had he been a younger man and not won what he had he would have done more to get back into shape. But you are right in that Ronaldo was a hard-worker up until his injuries and Adriano never had that work ethic.

  • Comment number 59.

    55. At 15:13pm on 21st Mar 2011, MANYANYA wrote:
    Look like everyone has forgotten about Rodrigo Possebon, where is he now? Is he still playing?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Possebon hasn't been mentioned because he is only 22 and was seen in only a handful of league cup games for Man Utd. I dont think you can compare him to Adriano.

    FYI whilst at Man Utd he went on loan to Braga (Liverpool's recent conquerors) initially for the full season. After one fleating appearance Braga sent him back to Man Utd as his performance was that bad. He is currently at Santos but has only played a couple of games. Dont think he will make it!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Remember him being linked to chelsea for around 25-30 million in his prime, lucky escape, although we probably spent that money on shevchenko instead...

  • Comment number 61.

    Very interesting article. With regards to the death of his father as a catalyst for his downward spiral I guess everyone is different, I remember C.Ronaldo commenting that he now plays and trains harder in memory of his father.

    Other posts are taking about the comment "the fact that he had a bullet lodged in his skull" I was a bit taken aback by it initially but using such a casual description of how his fathers life was taken I suppose shows the casual regard there is for innocent life in these gang related shoot-outs.

  • Comment number 62.

    Another great article Tim. I have also noticed the general trend, not just in Brazil, but in South America as a whole of players returning home from Europe. In my opinion, having made their fortunes, many of these footballers prefer the idea of being a big component in a team backing home, helping them to win medals and championships, rather than a periphery player at a middle of the road team in Europe. Although there have been others, we could call this ‘doing a Veron’.

    These players are so desperate to go to Europe to make their fortunes as young men, but as they get older (now with bulging pockets) they seem to want something more. I think Edison Mendez, for example, could have stayed in Europe with a lesser team once his time at PSV was at and, but like the others he chose to return home in pursuit of titles.

    http://www.lufcloaded.com/blogs/quitowhite/

  • Comment number 63.

    I think it is a great shame when a talent like this seems to lose that winning mentality. However sometimes great players need to find great clubs to help reignite that spark that is missing.

    With my team Norwich City on the up and Premiership football just around the corner surely getting in a player like this would be beneficial to ourselves. While Grant Holt has played very well at this level - the influenece of a Brazilian international will only enhance the squad and the number of shirts we sell off the back would surely make it almost self funding.

    A Holt Adriano partnership will surely be the envy of the Premier League and will surely not only keep us up but help with a push towards top 6 and hopefully European places.

    I remember him playing against France in the world cup final of 98 and while he was clearly unfit their were rumours of a ceisure before the game so we cannot look at this as any form guide.

    I say give the lad another chance and Carrow Road could inspire him!

  • Comment number 64.

    Adriano is another example that players are human and not machines.

    I remember reading about Hernan Crespo when he came to Chelsea, the club bought him, gave him a house then left him to his own devices, he had problems buying simple things like a lightbulb etc.

    Players like Adriano need clubs and managers that will help them and understand them on and off the pitch, not discard them when they don't perform.

  • Comment number 65.

    63. At 16:27pm on 21st Mar 2011, Douglas Bridges wrote:

    I remember him playing against France in the world cup final of 98 and while he was clearly unfit their were rumours of a ceisure before the game so we cannot look at this as any form guide.

    I thought that was Ronaldo?

  • Comment number 66.

    63. At 16:27pm on 21st Mar 2011, Douglas Bridges wrote:
    I think it is a great shame when a talent like this seems to lose that winning mentality. However sometimes great players need to find great clubs to help reignite that spark that is missing.

    With my team Norwich City on the up and Premiership football just around the corner surely getting in a player like this would be beneficial to ourselves. While Grant Holt has played very well at this level - the influenece of a Brazilian international will only enhance the squad and the number of shirts we sell off the back would surely make it almost self funding.

    A Holt Adriano partnership will surely be the envy of the Premier League and will surely not only keep us up but help with a push towards top 6 and hopefully European places.

    I remember him playing against France in the world cup final of 98 and while he was clearly unfit their were rumours of a ceisure before the game so we cannot look at this as any form guide.

    I say give the lad another chance and Carrow Road could inspire him!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think you may be thinking of Ronaldo as Adriano wasn't even in the World Cup 98 squad.

    And I dont think he would ever sign for Norwich. Despite his lack of disire and disruptive nature, he still has huge wage demands and I dont think Delia could match them. Sorry!!

  • Comment number 67.

    "I think you have a very valid point, in fact I would challenge anyone to name five brazilian players who have actually performed to their expectation for more than a few years in europe"

    Off the top of my head without even thinking about it:
    Zico, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Dani Alves, Belletti, Socrates, Gilberto Silva, Lucio, Silvinho and the Barcalona guy who collapsed in the world cup when the ball was rolled against him at the corner flag.

  • Comment number 68.

    Tim,Sporting Lisbon are due to ellect a new chairman on later on this month,one of the candidates got an agreament with Zico to take over as head coach should he win the elections also theis candidate stated that he has a deal done with Adriano to join the club should he win the elections. In your opinion if all this is true,do you think that Zico would be the right man to bring Adriano back to reality?
    After all Zico is a Brazilian legend on his own right...

  • Comment number 69.

    There are plenty of South Americans who succeed in European play, look at the Champions League and the numerous South Americans who play for the clubs there. A Brazilian friend commented to me that he enjoyed watching Tottenham-Milan play a few weeks back when there were as many total Brazilians in each clubs starting team (five) as there were combined English and Italians! And the current European champions Inter have a majority of South Americans typically starting for them.

    The bottom line is not every player, no matter where he is from, will succeed going to a foreign country. The fact that players like Gaizka Mendieta, Ian Rush and Christian Vieri did not succeed when they left their home countries to play in foreign leagues does not mean Spanish, Italian or British players cannot adapt to foreign leagues just as Adriano and Denilson's struggles does not mean all or even most South Americans cannot adapt to overseas play.

    Soccer Futbol Forum
    http://z8.invisionfree.com/Soccer_Futbol_Forum/index.php

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm embarrassed for Adriano just looking at those pictures of him for Roma..........there are 50 year old men playing Sunday league in better shape than that!

    Please Tim, can you explain what it is in the Brasilian culture that seems to breed so many of these players that have such exceptional talent, but throw it all away in favour of women & parties once the money comes, i.e. Ronaldinho & Robinho

  • Comment number 71.

    great blog,
    but i have read all 70 comments and noticed how lots of people mention how its more south american footballers who cant cope it long term ect.
    I dont know how many will agree with me but i would LOVE to see how many europeans would cope if the strongest league/where the money is where to be in south america!! If all the brazilians and argentianians stayed home they would cope fine just like europeans cope fine at in europe. Tevez showed when he went to corinthians he didnt have problems because a flight to se his family wasent long. it was easier to adapt with languange ect. Can you imagine a rooney for example adapting to a strong brazilian league??

  • Comment number 72.

    i remember man utd team going to a world championship after winning the treble in brazil only to be outplayed by the south america teams(who remembers romario for vasco de game great flick and then shot vs man utd?? europeans would fail in europe both technically on the pitch and also language off the pitch!!

  • Comment number 73.

    sorry guys it was actually edmundo who done the flick and goal. my bad!! haha. google the goal. amazing!!

  • Comment number 74.

    Add your commentAdriano was always a bit of a problem during his time at Flemengo .... though to give him credit he did used to at least last the full game which was more than can be said for the Corinthians superstar. I remember reading articles about him not training for one reason or another and this being glossed over by the club because of who he was. This was never going to be allowed at Roma and events proved this to be true.
    Brasil adore their footballers ...not like not love ..but ADORE especially those who are better than the norm and for this reason , they tend to turn a blind eye to the players failings as long as he can bring a few more thousand spectators through the turnstiles and score a few goals.Even other players tend to be in awe of them ..watch Ronaldinho play here and count the number of times a heavy tackle is made on him ...you will not need to count very high ..Also the game here is slower and easier than what they have been used to in Europe, so I guess they think they do not have to try too hard ...still its a pity to see such talent ill used.

    Tim, off topic I know, but what is this break after 20/25 mins in Rio games that has started? I am told it is a ´technical ´break to give the players a breather due to the heat! I do not recall it being hotter than usual there? Is it not just a break to get more advertising on the tv ? and is it going to become the norm? or did I miss something? ( which is very likely) If it does continue, football here will no longer be a game of two halves but of four quarters!

  • Comment number 75.

    For 3 years at Inter Adri was undoubtedly the best CF in the world, his performances were unreal! Despite being overly left footed, he struck fear into every defence, look at what he did to Valencia and then an amazing double against Udinese...took it from his own area, that was Adriano at his peak, dragging Inter to victories...but then sadly it all went downhill from there: alcoholism, depression and dramatic weight gain made the guy unrecognisable. As not only an Inter fan but an Adriano fan I waited for 3 years from him to return, but it never happened.
    Its always horrible to see your favourite player collapse, and to think that the last time we saw the man at his best was at a meagre 25 makes it even sadder. He looked like the man who would win us the Champions League, shocking to think that man would end up being a 30 year old Diego Milito, whether The Emperor even reaches that age as a professional footballer looks doubtful. But thankfully there is always youtube, allowing us to reminisce on the Adri of the 2004/05 & 2005/06 seasons.

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 38 - I think you've missed my point and the question I was asking.

    It is certainly wrong to make assumptions on how someone will behave simply because of their social background..which is why I don't do it. However, if you took two people with identical personalities and had one grow up in a favela and one in a rich, devoutly Christian family then I know which one I'd back to go off the rails if they remained in or near those environments after becoming wealthy and famous.

    If someone is mentally fragile or easily led then I would imagine that being from a less wealthy background would mean there's more people you know from your youth who would want a bit of your wealth. If the Brazilian clubs don't have systems in place to safeguard talented youngsters from this potential problem it could lead to the loss of some future stars.

    On the other hand, if a youngster goes to Europe early then he may avoid issues from his past but have to combat problems like boredom, homesickness etc that could push them to lead a playboy lifestyle.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 71-73 - Dejan Petkovic seemed to manage pretty well having made the switch from Europe to Brazil in the early 2000's. Some people will obviously cope with it better than others.

  • Comment number 78.

    @69
    You must be getting Vieri confused with someone else. He was top scorer in Spain in his one season there, unless you're referring to a very brief spell when he was past his prime at Monaco.

    @63
    It's naive to think Adriano would be a great signing for Norwich, if they were to be promoted. His poor fitness meant he was rarely available for Roma, his attitude was highly unprofessional, and his salary would still be huge. Having him around would also cause problems in the dressing room as I'm sure other players who try a lot harder will turn around and ask why they're not earning his money.

  • Comment number 79.

    Such a shame to see talent wasted, I'm sure I speak for men all around the world when I say I wish I had his talent, and the oppurtunity to play top level football!

    I still think one more bout in Europe could work well for Adriano, dare I say a move to Bloomfield road? Speculative I know but watch this space!

  • Comment number 80.

    My partner is half Brazilian, and lived there much of her late teens and early twenties. Unfortunately she has said, whilst being proud of her mixed heritage that often Brazilian people are money orientated through inpovished upbringings. I think like Tim says a player needs to be dedicated to keeping fit, and having a hunger to succeed.

    If that hunger to succeed was driven by an ambition to better themself, then they've already achieved something.

  • Comment number 81.

    72: "i remember man utd team going to a world championship after winning the treble in brazil only to be outplayed by the south america teams"


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    I remember that particular Manchester United team being crowned World Champions after beating a Brazilian team, Palmeiras in 1999.

    And just to show the victory over the South Americans wasn't a fluke, they did it again in 2009. With ten men.

  • Comment number 82.

    In response to USER: mpk87

    I completely agree with the comment made about the aforementioned Swedish player, however I believe your comments related to Adriano ironically were filled with falsities and misunderstandings.

    Perhaps you have never had the opportunity to work in another culture or perhaps a professional sporting environment. Let us not forget the demoralising effect that sport can in fact have on athletes, or are we too eager to forget the Jennifer Capriati's and Marcus Trescothick's of this world. Being away from home in another part of the world is not easy no matter how many material items fame and money bring with them. In fact the arguments commonly suggest that fame only exaggerates the problems. To you, being a professional footballer may seem like the ideal scenario, like the six year old boy who imagines scoring at Wembley in the cup final. However when you come from the slums of Brazil and your thrust into an environment of rich businessman, easy women and pestering journalists thing are not quite so clear cut. The rags to riches ideology so quickly came to George Best's rescue didn't it now?!

    Let's stop being ignorant and realise these guys are just commodities to be exploited for the pockets of mad men like Berlusconi. It's easy to say well....just change career if you don't like it, nobody is forcing you to be there. I think sponsors would initially falsify this claim and certainly finding another job when your only qualification is to play a bit of football is not the easiest prospect, both practically and psychology. Please stop for a minute before we blame the athletes and try to look at the wider process.

  • Comment number 83.

    #68- Zico was very critical of Adriano's attitudes, and the general state of things in Flamengo at the time, since he took over as director of football shortly after Adriano left. I doubt he would bring him.

    Anyway, I see Adriano only going downhill now. Most Europeans didn't see, but he had a wonderful Brazilian league in 2009 for Flamengo, in which seemingly his motivation was back again, but afterwards, after we won the league and he was top scorer, the problems returned worse than ever.

  • Comment number 84.

    79: Bloomfield Road....!! loved that! now you're talking! Ollie would sort him out. Having to wash his own kit would be great therapy for Adriano.

  • Comment number 85.

    @61 - He didn't die directly from a shooting, he died from long term complications of a shooting he was involved in. The shooting left bits of bullet shrapnel in his brain which later resulted in his ill-health and death a few years ago.

    As for the whole debate thang, the problem with Brazil (and most of SA) is that its very much centered on the 'star player' which is inevitably the striker or attacking midfielder. It doesn't matter how good your CB or GK is, your striker and attacking midfielder will be the one's gaining the headlines and wetting the appetite of Europeans. This tends to breed a level of inviolability for attacking players from an early age.

    Your Luizao's, Lucios, Juan's etc are good consistent performers because they don't have people screaming how good they are every week and hyping up big transfer deals. Its more than likely your strikers in Brazil tend to go off the rails quicker because they are elevated and scrutinised far more than the defensive players, and are done so at a much younger age. Nobody was telling Lucio at aged 16 he would be the best defender in the world the same way they were telling Robinho he would be the next Pele.

  • Comment number 86.

    I saw the Boca Juniors 0-2 Olimpo game mentioned below the article. Boca were a shambles and lucky to lose by only two goals. Riquelme & Palermo were legendary players for Boca but last night they both looked like tired old men.

    Olimpo are having a great time, their first ever win against Boca in the league, they are top of the table, highest scorers in the league and moved out of the relegation places for the fist time since they played Boca in the corresponding fixture in the Apertura back in September.

    http://southamerican-futbol.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 87.

    For the last 10 years I have been wondering why the career of so many great Brazilian offensive players start declining in such early stages. Honestly, I think most of you made some valid points. But I also believe it has to do with the constant pressure of competing with so many other young talents. For instance, I start watching Brazil in 1990 when Careca and Muller were playing for Brazil. However, Romario and Bebeto were already as good as them or even better than them. By 1998, the like of Rivaldo and Ronaldo were too much for Romario and Bebeto. By 2002 Rivaldo was under immense pressure by the like of Kaka and Ronaldinho. On 2006 the competition was pretty though between Ronaldo, Adriano, robinho, Ronaldinho, and even Fred and Diego. On 2010 some football analysts believe that Ganso could have done a better job than Kaka. I believe it is harder for a Brazilian or Argentinean to perform at their peak once they reach 30 because of tough competitions by other great talents that come out from these countries every year.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    Are you sure it was Ronaldo who had the ceisure at the World Cup final I thought it was Adriano and my sources seem to confirm this.

  • Comment number 90.

    89. At 09:06am on 22nd Mar 2011, Douglas Bridges wrote:
    Are you sure it was Ronaldo who had the ceisure at the World Cup final I thought it was Adriano and my sources seem to confirm this.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Your sources are wrong, simple as that!! Here is the Brazil squad from World Cup 98 and you will see Adriano wasn't even in it: 1 Taffarel • 2 Cafu • 3 Aldair • 4 J. Baiano • 5 C. Sampaio • 6 R. Carlos • 7 Giovanni • 8 Dunga (c) • 9 Ronaldo • 10 Rivaldo • 11 Emerson • 12 Carlos Germano • 13 Zé Carlos • 14 Gonçalves • 15 André Cruz • 16 Zé Roberto • 17 Doriva • 18 Leonardo • 19 Denílson • 20 Bebeto • 21 Edmundo • 22 Dida • Coach: Zagallo

    Brazil lost the final to France 3-0. Before the game Ronaldo was not included in the team sheet has he had a seizure but then they decided to play him anyway. He had a poor game for obvious reasons and Zidane stole the show!!

    Oh and Adriano would have only been 16 at the time of this World Cup!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Are their any Brazilian offensive players in the last 20 years that have got better with age? similar to the way in which zidane, nedved and figo adapted their games after they lost a yard of pace. I think ronaldo is the only one that comes to mind as his finishing was still of the highest class even after he started gaining weight but he arguably was declining the older he got.

  • Comment number 92.

    91. At 12:49pm on 22nd Mar 2011, footballismylife wrote:
    Are their any Brazilian offensive players in the last 20 years that have got better with age? similar to the way in which zidane, nedved and figo adapted their games after they lost a yard of pace. I think ronaldo is the only one that comes to mind as his finishing was still of the highest class even after he started gaining weight but he arguably was declining the older he got.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ramario was always an amazing finisher, even at the age of 39 he was still banging goals in for Vasco and Bebeto was 34 when he played in France 98. Both class players!!

    Ze Roberto at age 36 is still doing the business at Hamburg and Rivaldo was still doing a decent job at 35 with Olympiakos.

    Its not unheard of for a Brazilian player to play well into their 30's at a high standard but its still strange how many waste the talent they were gifted with!

  • Comment number 93.

    Yer but would you say that romario, ze reberto and rivaldo got better with age?

  • Comment number 94.

    Adriano was a Chelsea transfer target before they got Shevshenko from Milan. Do you think a strong manager like Mourinho could have helped him? Some players need discipline and some need an arm around the shoulder. He couldn't have been worse than Sheva anyway. He was my favourite player for a while when at the top at Inter.

  • Comment number 95.

    good writeup. it's a shame about Adriano. unfortunately for many of these players who come from the favelas or poor upbringings, but for many of these athletes, you can take an athlete out of the hood but you can't take the hood out of the player. these athletes, come out of these poor neighborhoods and align themselves with people they think they can trust, but it turns out they are the biggest crooks.

    and as it turns out the only people these athletes can trust are the ones from the hood whom they've known for their entire lives. and with brasilians it's even worse b/c they get shipped off to europe at such a young age, it is very difficult in many cases to grow up properly with little to no mentorship.

    check out my preview of the brazil-scotland game this sunday!
    www.bleacherreport.com/articles/639115-brazil-vs-scotland-international-friendly-preview

  • Comment number 96.

    93. At 13:36pm on 22nd Mar 2011, footballismylife wrote:
    Yer but would you say that romario, ze reberto and rivaldo got better with age?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You mentioned Ronaldo before, he didn't exactly get better with age. He looked at his best when he was 19/ 20 at PSV and Barcelona.

    You also mentioned Zidane, Figo and Nedved. Did they get better with age who did they just adapt their games to enable them to continue playing a high standard. Zidane, Figo and Nedved were all playing at the peak of their powers in the late nineties and early 2000's when they were all 27 / 28. Most people would say this is the norm for a player. They were still great players when the hit 33 / 34 but I dont think they were as good as when they were 27/ 28. Therefore these guys didn't get better with age they were just able to adapt their game and continue to play at an extremely high standard.

    The players I mentioned are the same as these guys. They were all at there peak around the age of 27 / 28 but were still able to play at a great level well into their 30's.

  • Comment number 97.

    Charlton Athletic would have him anyday. If your reading this Adriano please give Chris Powell a buzz!

  • Comment number 98.

    #72 - I would think that the European Spanish and Portugese players would have less language problems in South America than they would in, say, Russia or Germany.

  • Comment number 99.

    Tim, this is almost romantic and certainly more than a bit emotional. Very interesting writing, actually. Have you given any thoughts to writing a book of stories from South American football? With a little of storytelling - about players and clubs and local people - and a little theory about how South American football is embedded in the society? There must already be some books like that, but yours could bring something new. I know I would love to read the thoughts you present here wowen together and put into a larger frame.

  • Comment number 100.

    Hi Tim:

    I am really surprised that you did not somehow mention last week's amazing game between Colo Colo and Santos. Fast, end to end game, lots of scoring chances, fantasy trio Ganso-Neimar-Elano doing things I haven't seen outside of Barcelona maybe (yet different... distinctly Brazilian no-look passes, backheels and dummies), Colo Colo's pace and endurance... maybe a tribute to Bielsa's legacy... no more timid Chilean football now in the hands of another Argentine, attack minded Americo Gallego (the Mascherano of 1978's WC).

    I was at La Bombonera on Sunday night: soulless team, mediocre players, no movement off the ball, crosses and clashes (talk about confusion... two Boca players off to hospital in the first half) and delightful little Olimpo capitalizing with tidy style. FINALLY the fans did what they should have done a year ago: loudly boo this team off the pitch, headed by a centreforward who should have hang up his boots a year ago and renders his team one man short every game. Riquelme is still the best player in the team but he is out of shape and has no one to dialogue with.

    Going back to Santos, fellow bloggers please get your hands on highlights of this Libertadores game or any other game where these guys play together. I want to see more of Neimar: besides his lousy demeanour on the pitch, he has the most devastating short sprint and fakes I have seen in a long time. And his move in his goal reminded me of a lanky Aguero... deadly finisher. Will he play this Saturday vs. Scotland?

 

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