Hero to Zero: The decline of Adriano

By on February 7, 2013 - 413 views

Remember a certain Adriano?

He was tipped to be the next big thing in football. He was respected all over the world by players and fans alike. The infamous story of the superstar that had it all, and lost it all in a matter of seconds.

Full name: Adriano Leite Ribiero. Once the hero of Italian football with Inter Milan and the future of Brazilian football, is now almost forgotten.


His name is shared with a new Brazilian talent who has emerged from being almost unknown to one of the best full-backs in La Liga, Adriano (last name: Correia) of Barcelona.

The name and nationality is not the only detail they have in common. Each of the players started off their careers in their home nation of Brazil. They also both became much respected imports into the tough European leagues and made the risky step up to European football. Both of them took a few seasons to settle in and show their true potential.

Adriano Leite Ribiero joined Inter Milan in 2001, he struggled to gain first team football during the 2001/2002 season. However, a loan spell at rival Seria A side Fiorentina and two year reign with Parma helped him to display his true quality and potential.

In 2004, Inter Milan signed back Adriano. He became a legend at the San Siro by scoring 47 goals in 115 appearances for the club between 2004 and 2009. He became a hero at Inter, helping them to an unbelievable four consecutive Seria A titles.

His goal-scoring record for his country was also incredible. He averaged well over one goal every two games, picking up awards for top scorer in both the Copa America in 2004 and the Confederations Cup in 2005.

Adriano was respected and his talent was adored world-wide. He had everything going for him. He was tipped to be the next Ronaldo and played along-side the Brazilian legend on many occasions for the national side. Their were even claims that he would one day be better than Ronaldo. Yet problems with Alcohol would over-shadow the career of this once beloved striker.


Adriano had everything going for him, he was one of the most famous talents in football at that time. His iconic robust nature and jaw-dropping strength made him a nightmare for defenders to deal with, his power was unlike any other player. Nothing could possibly have gone wrong for him.

On April 4th, 2009, Adriano was sent to join up with the Brazil squad for international duty, and he never returned to Inter Milan afterwards, he was being left out of the Inter Milan side and being used as a substitute, scoring a mere five goals in 19 appearances for the club that season.

20 days later, he rescinded his contract with Inter. He was only 27. The Brazilian was in his prime, and there was much speculation as to why he left Inter, many journalists questioned whether a big money move from Spain or England was imminent, though none came.

Instead, he settled in his home country with Brazilian big guns Flamengo. He made a season changing impact with the club scoring an impressive 19 goals in 31 appearances. His career then spiraled out of control and rapidly went downhill.

Throughout the summer of 2010 he struggled with alcoholism and put a lot of weight on. He was released by Flamengo and returned to Italy with AS Roma in 2010, gaining just five appearances during his full season with the club.

He left Roma in 2011 and his alcoholism and weight problems got worse. His career was going rapidly downhill. He then joined Corinthians and was criticised about his physical state and his off-the-field behaviour. He received lots of public criticism in the Brazilian press.


Throughout the 2011/2012 season he played only four games for the club scoring just once. His final professional goal. He ended his season with Corinthians weighing around 95-100 kg. He suffered with numerous stamina problems which were making him a laughing stock in Brazil.

He eventually joined Flamengo for a third time in 2012, he made no appearances for the club in 2012 triggering rumours of him retiring from football altogether. He is now almost forgotten, and the footballing world still wonders; what might have been.

He had it all and lost it all – a man tipped as one of the most promising talents in world football is now forgotten. Yet another victim of the football graveyard.

Should he have retired after leaving Inter? He would have left on a high, with four Serie A titles to his name and the love and respect of the footballing community. Instead, he will retire with nothing but torment, and in full knowledge of the fact that he is still only 30 years of age.

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Jake Beales Hobson

17 years old, from Doncaster. Just want to become a football journalist as I have an incredible obsession with the beautiful game.

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