Adriano Leite Ribeiro. I loved this guy. This was a name that once had defences all over Europe worrying, but where did it all go wrong?
A powerful, fast, striker with an incredible left foot, the big man was making waves in the early 2000’s having just come across from Brazil. Signing for Internazionale, Adriano was moved out for the 02/03 season where he formed a great partnership with a certain Adrian Mutu at Parma, a place where he scored an impressive 23 goals. The young Brazilian with speed not matching his large frame had the world taking notice.
Taken back to his original club, by the end of 2005 he had become Inter Milan’s star man. Being signed onto a bumper 5-year contract, Adriano had scored 40 goals in both domestic and international competition in just under a year, and as a result was tipped to be the future of Serie A and even Brazil. Adriano won the Copa America golden shoe and was seen as the natural heir to Ronaldo, the sky was the limit.
However everything began to slowly go downhill. This was a guy that was being courted by Chelsea, but amid what the club described as some off the field issues, his form dropped. Adriano was allowed to take leave numerous times between 2006 and 2009 with what was reported as minor alcoholism. This didn’t hurt Adriano’s reputation straight away, and was seen as just something of a blip, with a number of clubs including premier league sides Man City & West Ham still reportedly taking an interest in the striker.
But this blip became a rot and Inter began to question whether the youthful Adriano would fulfil the potential in which they had so heavily invested. Ultimately the Striker ended up returning to Brazil with Sao Paulo on loan and it was a move that many thought would reignite his career, scoring an admirable 11 goals in 19 appearances. This spell earned him a permanent move to Flamengo in 2009 after Inter terminated his contract, and it was here that it finally seemed his career was getting back on track. Scoring his second hat trick for the club in the Fluminense derby Adriano was once again in the running for Brazil’s international squad and Europe once again came calling. Adriano took the move and in 2010 the target man was back in Serie A. Linking up with Francesco Totti at Roma he was greeted with some fanfare, with many expecting the Adriano that won 4 Scudetto’s with Inter. It sadly wasn’t. Adriano seemed like a lost cause once again, shying away from the work ethic expected of him and producing lacklustre displays, Roma quickly dumped him. He returned to Brazil with Corinthians, another spell with Flamengo followed, both went badly.
It is a truly sad story of a man who came out of poverty through his incredible talent. A man tipped to be the next Ronaldo, with incredibly deft feet for a man his size.
However it is just another story of a man who got caught in the limelight. He had constant issues with obesity, alcoholism, and depression late in his career, and Jose Mourinho when asked in 2010 said he “feared for the man”. The latest news on Adriano is that he’s been cleared of a bizarre drug trafficking case back in Brazil, and his last movements in the footballing world were a collapsed move to French side Le Havre.
This is a story of a talented guy, caught in the wrong circles, who saw a dramatic fall. Adriano is currently 34, he should still be playing. But his career died a long time ago, and he doesn’t seem to have much of a future in the game either.