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"I was so powerless"

Javier Zanetti’s words about Adriano’s tragic decline will break your heart

The Inter Milan legend believed his team-mate was the 'new Ronaldo'

Football is littered with stories of talent gone to waste.

But few resonate as much as the tale of Adriano’s decline.

Adriano had the world at his feet in mid-2000s

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Adriano had the world at his feet in mid-2000s

The hulking Brazilian forward appeared to have all the attributes to become of the game’s true greats.

However, after some world-beating performances for Parma and Inter Milan, his career took a downward trajectory.

It’s well known that the death of Adriano’s father caused the favela-born forward much distress and was the primary catalyst for his downfall.

Now, over a decade later, Inter legend Javier Zanetti has opened up about his time as Adriano’s captain and team-mate.

Zanetti and Adriano were team-mates for six years

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Zanetti and Adriano were team-mates for six years

The legendary Argentine spoke to the club at which he spent 19 seasons with stark honesty.

“We were playing a friendly match against Real Madrid, he [Adriano] scored an impressive goal,” Zanetti said.


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“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.

Adriano getting his haircut in a Brazilian favela

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Adriano getting his haircut in a Brazilian favela

“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.

Adriano suffered with weight problems and surrendered to a life of excess

Reuters
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Adriano suffered with weight problems and surrendered to a life of excess

“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.”

Only the stoniest hearts would fail to be moved by these words.

Il Capitano

PA:Empics Sport
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Il Capitano

Not only does it confirm just how devastated Adriano was by the death of his father, but it’s clear just how committed Zanetti was to the club and his team-mates.

The fact he considers his inability to erase Adriano’s grief (an impossible task) his biggest defeat speaks volumes of the man.

Truly one of the game’s greatest ever captains, on and off the pitch.


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