In our countdown of the Top 20 Inter players in the last 20 years, we recognise title winning striker Adriano in 8th spot.
On pure ability, Adriano had the talent to be one of the greatest strikers in history. Unfortunately personal events caused a downward spiral, so he was never able hit the peaks we all thought he would get to.
Let’s look a bit further into Adriano’s Inter career.
The start –
Inter signed Adriano at the beginning of the 2001/2002 season. Adriano was only 19 at the time, and Inter paid around the price of €13mil for the up and coming Brazilian talent.
The first season, Adriano didn’t get much playing time as he was behind of the likes of Vieri, Ronaldo and Recoba. Half way through the season, Inter decided to loan Adriano to Fiorentina to gain some Serie A experience.
Considering that Adriano scored 1 goal in 8 Serie A appearances with Inter, the loan worked perfectly as Adriano gained some confidence going on to score a further 6 goals in 15 appearances.
Inter decided to loan out Adriano for a further 2 seasons where he was extremely successful with Parma. After becoming a regular and consistent goal scorer with Parma, Adriano finally made his way back to Inter.
L’Imperatore (The Emperor) –
Nerazzurri fans quickly fell in love with Adriano as he became a fan favourite. In possession of incredible skill, speed and raw talent it was impossible not to love the guy.
In the season of 2004/2005, Adriano was an absolute beast where he scored a total of 28 goals in 42 appearances. Impressively, 10 of those goals came in 9 appearances from Champions League qualifying matches and group stages.
You could say the world was at his feet! Everything was going in the right direction until it wasn’t.
Unfortunately Adriano would lose his father and mentor at the age of 22. He would battle depression and personal demons for the rest of his footballing career.
“I saw him cry. He threw the phone down and started screaming. From that day on, Moratti and I decided to take him in like a brother and protect him.” Zanetti was quoted as saying.
For years after, Adriano tried his best to keep everything together. The season following the passing away of his father (2005/06), Adriano still had a decent season scoring 19 goals in 47 appearances including a hattrick in the Champions League.
Dark times –
The heartbreak of losing his father was something that stuck with Adriano forever. Although, Inter knew their man was hurting but there was nothing they could do.
By the time the 2006/07 season came, things had hit a point where there was no coming back. Adriano travelled down that dark road and the painful thing was that he loved playing football so much.
“I could only sleep if I drank. My coach, Roberto Mancini, and my team mates noticed that I was hungover when I arrived for training. And I feared arriving too late, so I didn’t sleep and went to training still drunk. I slept in the medical department and Inter had to tell journalists that I had muscular pain.”
Adriano had his worst Inter season, and the club could no longer count of Adriano on the pitch. In this campaign, Adriano was mostly used as a sub, as Zlatan was the main man leading the Inter line.
Moratti (the owner at the time) wanted to help, so he let Adriano go back to Brazil to spend some time with his family and friends. There was no return date set by Moratti, as the club just wanted Adriano to feel comfortable at home away from football.
As the seasons went by it seemed that Brazil was the best place for Adriano, so Inter decided not to offer a contract renewal. Instead Adriano started a new journey with Flamengo, finishing his Inter career with 9 trophies including 4 consecutive Serie A titles.
Growing up, I can remember playing Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) with friends and family. Adriano was on the front cover for PES 6 alongside John Terry. At the time, Adriano was at the height of his powers as he was both a superstar for Inter and Brazil.
It’s rumoured Konami’s executive Shingo Takatsuka was a huge fan of Adriano so he designed him to be so overpowered it was almost impossible to stop him. Adriano had 99 as his shot power, so you could shoot from halfway on the field and generally score. Goalkeepers stood no chance as the ball was hit so hard.
Although, in real life it wasn’t too far away from the truth as Adriano had a bullet of a shot.
The memory of this game brings me joy and also is a little upsetting. The joy because we saw how fantastic Adriano was, but the sadness because his potential was never fulfilled. As a fan, we want our players to be both healthy on and off the field so this one hurts.
Even though he never hit his peak, we saw a glimpse of what could’ve been for him. A special talent and someone who just lost their way as some people in life do.
Thank you for all the Inter memories, you were something incredible!
We will be visiting number 7 next on our countdown. Who would you like to see in that number 7 spot for the Top 20 Inter players in the past 20 years?
As always Forza Inter!