Anyone who ever played Pro Evolution Soccer will remember Inter Milan’s powerhouse forward Adriano.
And it wasn’t just in the imaginary world of video games that the Brazilian looked like a world beater.
Between 2004 and 2009 Adriano blitzed Serie A, scoring 47 goals in 115 games. He hit his peak in 2004-05, bagging 28 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions.
But his career nosedived after a series of injuries and off-field issues, and by the time he should have been at his peak, he was plying his trade in Brazil with Flamengo. Now 35, Adriano is considered one of the greatest examples of wasted potential: a colossus in his early 20s who never reached his promise.
Inter legend Javier Zanetti has shed some light on why the World Cup winner’s career took a turn for the worse.
“We were playing a friendly match against Real Madrid, he [Adriano] scored an impressive goal,” Zanetti said.
“I told myself, this right here is the new Ronaldo! He’s got it all – strength, technique, dribble, speed, shot, heading…
“Adri is from favelas, that scared me a lot. I’ve seen the danger there, because it’s tricky when you get rich and you had nothing before.
“I was afraid he’d get himself into trouble.
“He got a phone call from Brazil ‘Adri, dad is dead’
“I saw him in his room, he threw the phone and started screaming. You couldn’t imagine that kind of scream. I get goosebumps even to this day.
“Since that day Moratti (Inter chairman) and myself watched over him as he was our little brother.
“He kept playing football, scoring goals, and pointing to the sky dedicating them to his father.
“After that phone call nothing was the same.
“Ivan Cordoba spent one night with him and said ‘Adri, you’re a mix of Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Are you aware you could become the best player ever?’
“We did not succeed of pulling him out of depression.
“And that is perhaps my biggest defeat of a whole career. It still hurts me, I was so powerless.”