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Remembering the most prolific league campaign of Adriano’s roller coaster career

Adriano's most prolific season didn't come at Inter or Parma but at Flamengo towards the end of his career

Close your eyes and- go with us here- think of Adriano.

What kit is he wearing?

Now most of you will be seeing him in the stripes of Inter Milan.

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Can you rub your tummy at the same time though?

PA:Press Association
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Can you rub your tummy at the same time though?

The more hipster among you may be seeing him in a Fiorentina or Parma kit. Maybe even a Roma shirt.

But if we were to ask what L’Imperatore’s most prolific league campaign was, which would you go for?

It wasn’t his breakout season with Parma when, alongside Hidetoshi Nakata and Adrian Mutu, he announced himself on the European stage.

You don’t tackle Adriano

Times Newspapers Ltd
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You don’t tackle Adriano

It wasn’t his time in Serie A, although the 2004/05 season with Inter came close.

It was actually the 11th season of his career, by which point many had written him off.

Adriano was back where it all started.

At the age of 27 he re-joined Flamengo on a one-year deal, having seen opportunities in Europe decline rapidly, around the same pace his waistline was expanding.

Inter had pulled the plug and terminated his contract, with Jose Mourinho happy to rely on Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito for goals.

But while many saw Adriano’s return to Flamengo as a glorified PR stunt, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

You can’t deny the happiness

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You can’t deny the happiness

Adriano, alongside Kleberson, who had left Man United four years earlier, powered Flamengo to a Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A title.

He was named the league’s top scorer, best striker and, most impressively, best player after scoring 19 league goals in 30 games.

He wasn’t up against amateurs either.

Goals, goals and more goals

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Goals, goals and more goals

Diego Tardelli, who still finds himself in the Brazil squad, Jonas, who is still scoring prolifically for Benfica, and Ronaldo, who was seeing out his career with Corinthians, all ran Adriano close.

But the big man prevailed.

Adriano’s form prolonged his international career for one more year, although Dunga didn’t call him up for the 2010 World Cup.


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Perfect weather for some football

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Perfect weather for some football

But more than the goals. More than the trophies. It was a delight to see the smile back on Adriano’s face.

His battle with depression was revealed by team-mate Javier Zanetti after he hung up his boots, adding much-needed human context to a troubled career.

So to see him genuinely enjoying football towards the end of his career was particularly satisfying.

When he was on form, there weren’t many better sights in football than Adriano’s left foot.

Don’t bother diving for that keeper

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Don’t bother diving for that keeper

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