"He could be one of the best in the history of this game, but if, when reading an article about Adriano Leite Ribeiro, he is the New Ronaldo, he is the "Emperor", he is just Adriano, you did not run into a similar phrase, then you got acquainted with the language that tells about a completely different football player.
A person who was born in Rio de Janeiro automatically gets into his genes an unprecedented charge of football skill, honed in the narrow streets of this town or somewhere on the gritty Copacabana. However, along with talent, the place itself can be imprinted on the psychology of the growing player, which results in Adriano's career.
The generation from the beginning of zero attempts found him luxurious performances, temporary attempts to play in the interest, but it may well be familiar with individual pages of the biography, they are trying in every possible way to intimidate the younger generation of young football players. Like, look, guys, to what addictions can bring.
However, when Adriano himself, in his column on The Players Tribune, writes something like: "Complete crap," then somehow you do not think about the offer to listen to his story directly from the mouth.
"Pull up a chair, brother. Now only Adriano will tell Favelas.
Even just saying this word, people are already making a mistake. Strangers, they just don't know what they're dealing with, man. What do they think when they talk about Brazil? When do they talk about little children from the slums? They always have a grim picture before their eyes: only pain and suffering, man. I always like this.
Yes, sometimes they are right; in some cases, they are. But this is too difficult a question. When I think about my childhood in a favela, I think about how much fun we had.
I think about flying kites, playing with tops, soccer balls, narrow alleys. This is where the real childhood is, not this crap that children worldwide are doing now. They knock and knock on their screens. That's their business.
I have always been surrounded by my family, my people. I grew up already as part of the community. This is not suffering; this is life.
Look, I've made a lot of money in my career. But how much would you be willing to give up just to have some fun again? I hope you understand what I'm talking about?
There was always a ball at my foot. God put him there. I was seven when some members of my family chipped in to enter the Flamengo-escolinha academy (a small school in Brazil ed.). Can you imagine that, man? From the favela straight to Flamengo, Give me the shoes, I'm moving forward! Where to take the bus?
But it was still that kind of violence to the brain. We lived in Peña (lower middle-income area ed.). To get to the Flamengo Academy in Gavea (an area with residents of the upper class of income ed.), You had to go with two transfers by bus. The "yellow" metro line in Rio had not yet been built it was in the 90s. I was a child, so someone always had to ride with me.
This is where my nanny came in handy. Okay, grandma! Heck! You should bless yourself when you say her name, okay? Without her in my life, you would not have recognized the name Adriano. Dude, you have no idea what kind of woman she was. Just a legend! Listen Once, when I was at Inter, this damn press followed me wherever possible. They just hounded me. These assholes set up camp outside my house and were on duty there in several shifts. I felt trapped, dude. But then my nanny was with me, and I heard that she was then fiddling with water on the stove.
I went up to her and said, "What's the matter, Nan? What are you doing?" She replies: "Nothing, don't worry, I don't cook anything." But I see a large saucepan in front of me as if she had gathered to cook pasta. "I'm just making a present to our friends on the street," she told me after a moment, and it dawned on me.
"What ?! Nan, you're crazy! You can't do this!" - I tried to argue something to her but was struck by the answer on the spot: "Everything will be fine, I'm just going to redeem our friends from the press a little. And very warm. I think they will like it. "
Gods, man, she said it with the utmost seriousness! I had to calm her down for a long time, but she insisted on her own: "They need to get behind my boy! I have to teach them a lesson!"
This was my nanny. Now, do you understand what I'm talking about?
I remember that when I was still a child, she took this bus with me to train every day. We had some money, but it wasn't enough for a full meal, so she fed me popcorn on the go. Well, or she took a piece of white bread and put some sugar in the middle. It was all that we could afford at that moment. Tasty? And it always tasted good to me because when you're hungry, this damn popcorn tastes like heaven.
When I was training, my nanny did not sit in any cafes nearby, no. She was constantly with me and could watch me play for hours. But the funny thing was that she couldn't even pronounce my name correctly. Since my childhood, Adriano has been her ceiling.
When we were training, she constantly shouted: "Hey! Give the ball to Adirano! What are you doing ?! Give the ball to Adirano!" Once, I had to say something to her like, "Nan! Calm down! You can't say that to my teammates."
After training, debriefing began on the bus on the way home. "Adriano, why did you run over there and did not move to the other flank? Why did you hit the gate here and there." Dude, you can't imagine! It was Mourinho to Mourinho. Just a ruthless killer.
We lived like this for about eight years—every single day. I can never forget it. I can't even imagine how many hours I spent on this bus with my nanny. This was our life. What time is there for school? Would you believe me if I told you I failed my exams in fifth grade three times? My nanny gave her life for my career, but one day it almost ended.
I was 15. They were about to send me out of the Flamengo Academy. No kidding. The problem was that my position on the field was on the left flank of the defense, but I was growing too quickly. I ate some popcorn, I guess. Can you introduce me? Adriano, and even a left-back, even with that height?
At the end of the next year of study, the coaches put everyone in two rows, after which they began to rearrange us. As a result, those who stood on the left were simply expelled. I, too, stood on the left. Left lane - goodbye. However, when I was already leaving, one of the coaches shouted at me: "Hey, no, no, no! Not Adriano. This one remains. For now."
Fantastic, right? God sometimes lifts up our lives in his arms, and we cannot explain it. At that moment, I realized that it was about the very fact of my survival in this world. When they gave me a second chance, I realized that he was the last. What did I do about it? Fought, bro, I fought. I took out everyone who stood in my way.
There is a thing that people outside of football do not understand at all. If you are a striker, then you are not in a race with defenders. This is not true. If the ball is at your feet, a couple of center-backs aim to kill you. Does it look like a race? Not. This is a fight, a street fight. Do you know what I did in these situations? I beat all those bastards who tried to get in my way! Adriano must be the last surviving bastard. Live with it now.
Subsequently, Flamengo moved me to the forward. Thank God! A little later, when I was already 17, I got the chance to train with the main team. I played against grown men whose only purpose was to feed their families. It was a completely different level, so I regularly had to prove something.
I will never forget one moment: we play 11-for-11, the ball is constantly crushing, nothing special. However, suddenly the ball is loaded into the box, high serve. The defenders fly at me, but I just push them away, and I find myself completely alone. I turn and see the entire plane of the gate in front of me. It was a blow from the left foot. You know what happens when the ball hits my left foot, bro.
I cannot explain it. As if God stretched out his finger from heaven to me and touched my boot. I closed my eyes and then struck the bar with all my might. I swear to God, the rebound from the frame of the goal went to the very centerline of the field. No kidding. I saw the faces of the people around me - they were shocked. All they could say: "This is n ****! And he is still just a boy!".
A few months later, I was already on the national team. Yes, it all happened so quickly. I was still living in the favela with my parents then. In fact, I was asleep when our application was announced on TV. Suddenly, my mother enters the room shouting: "Adriano! They called you!", And I snore. When she finally managed to wake me up, all I could say was, Huh? What? Are you kidding me?" Then I got up and actually saw my name on TV.
Really, dude, in all seriousness. I am only 18 years old, I live in a favela. And here it is. How can someone say that it was not God who directed me? There is no logical sense in this story, even for me. A year passed, and I had already moved to Inter Milan, and people there called me Emperor. Can this be explained somehow ?! Not without the hand of God, I'm serious.
I remember that when I first arrived in Italy, I did not understand at all what was happening. I just stared at teammates like Seedorf, Ronaldo, Zanetti, and Toldo. Heck! I was just shaking in front of these guys. Seedorf walks around the locker room without a shirt - 7% of this bastard's body fat! Can you imagine ?! Only respect!
I will never forget the friendly against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. I was released as a substitute, and soon we got a free-kick. I take the ball, I think, "Why not?", And guess what is going on? I hear someone come up from behind and shout to me: "No, no, no, I take it upon myself." Materazzi! This big, mean bastard! Ha!
I could hardly understand what he was saying to me because I still didn't speak Italian well, but I realized that he was angry then. He tried to take the ball away from me, but Seedorf intervened: "No, let the kid shoot!" Nobody contacts Seedorf, so Materazzi just walked away. It's still funny to watch the replay of this episode - you can see how Materazzi stands behind me with the thoughts: "This child will now launch the ball into the stands."
People always ask me how I managed to punch so hard then. I don't know, I just kicked with my left foot, and God did the rest. Bam! And to the top corner! I really can't explain it.
This is how my romance with Inter began, but even to this day, Inter is my club. I've played in Flamengo, São Paulo, Corinthians, many places, but Inter is a special place. Italian press? This is another story, but Inter as a club is the best. Their anthem still gives me goosebumps when I think of it performed by fans on Giuseppe Meazza.
I still don't understand how it could have happened that a guy likes me and immediately the Emperor of Italy? I practically did not have time to do anything, but the attitude towards me was immediately like a king. Madness.
I remember once a family came to visit me. Nope, dude, you don't understand, Brazilian family. The whole family. 44 people! Cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, the whole neighborhood in my area got on this damn plane! This was reported to the president of the club, Mr. Moratti (legend!), To which he said: "This is a special moment for the guy. Give him a plane!". He even brought us a tour bus. Imagine - 44 Brazilians ride in Italy. It was another adventure.
That is why I will never say bad things about Moratti or Inter. Every club should work like this. They care about the players.