The former centre-forward recently sold his £1.2million mansion and moved into a luxury £10,000-a-month hotel room taking only his trophies
While living the good life in the presidential suite of luxury hotel Grand Hyatt in Rio de Janeiro, he might have been dwelling on how his career could have been so much better, and how he could still be playing good level football today.
At his peak and in full flight, Adriano was a magnificent spectacle. Physically imposing with a left foot that was both a howitzer and a surgeon’s knife, he was a defenders’ nightmare.
And this is emphatically not a case of a player who could not cut it in Europe or who failed to adapt. He had five superb seasons in Italy at a time when Serie A was still a global reference.
SO WHAT WENT WRONG?
As always, there is a human being inside the shirt, and this one ended up buckling under the strain. The root cause is easy to identify.
Adriano had a close relationship with his father – it was very touching to see the pair of them playing on the beach just after Adriano had been the star man in Brazil’s 2004 Copa America win.
The family grew up in one of Rio’s most violent favelas, and his father bore the scars. A bullet lodged in his brain after he was caught up in a gunfight.
It was a factor in his premature death – after which the son went on the slide.
Though it might seem bizarre, there is a similarity here with Marlon Brando – who might have been born to play the part of the Emperor Hadrian, Adriano’s namesake.
Brando’s interest in acting withered once his mother died. One of Adriano’s motivations in football had clearly been to please his father. That no longer applied.
Instead, something of a lost soul, he found solace in his old mates from the neighbourhood.
It gave him a sense of who he was. But their lifestyle was clearly not conducive to high level sport. He started drinking too much and missing training.
If anything, he was too nice for his own good. For all his hulking size, there is something of the sweet child about him. He captivated people.
He could always find clubs willing to give him another chance. In retrospect, tough love might have been more effective.
But he drifted from club to club. The door was always open – until he went off the rails once more and was reluctantly let go.
He was last seen in competitive action playing a couple of games for Miami in the United States back in 2016. Now 39, it would seem fair to assume that he will not be seen again.
Still, while it lasted it was a great career. As he gets older it is to be hoped that he does not reflect too sadly on how much better it could have been.
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