After years of silence and secrecy, former Inter forward Adriano has spoken out about the problems he has faced throughout his life.
The Brazilian was once one of world football’s most feared players, only for his career to decline rapidly and rumours to generate every so often about his personal life.
“They say that I disappeared,” Adriano wrote for the Players Tribune. “Adriano walked away from millions. Adriano is on drugs. Adriano disappeared into the favelas. You know how many times I’ve seen those headlines? Shit.”
Adriano once stunned the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu with a stunning freekick into the top corner, but he had to fight for the right to take it.
“I’ll never forget, we were playing against Real Madrid in a friendly at the Bernabeu, and I came on as a substitute,” Adriano wrote. “We win a freekick outside the box, and I step up to the ball. Hey, why not? Well, guess who comes up behind me saying, “No, no, no. I take it.
“Materazzi! That big mean b*****d! Hahahah! I could barely understand what he was saying, because I didn’t speak Italian yet. But I understood that he was pissed. He wanted to take it. But Seedorf stepped in and he said, “No, let the kid take it.
“Nobody messes with Seedorf. So of course Matterazzi had to step aside, and what’s so funny is that if you watch the video, you can see Matterazzi standing with his hands on his hips thinking: ‘This f***ing kid is going to blast the ball into the top row!!!’
“People ask me all the time about that free kick. How? How, how, how? How did you kick the ball that hard? I tell them: ‘Shit man! I don’t know! I hit it with my left and God did the rest!’
“TUM!!! Top corner. I really can’t explain it. It just happened.”
The ex-player continued, explaining what prompted his departure from Inter, which he says he is regularly asked about.
“In the span of nine days, I went from the happiest day of my life, to the worst day of my life,” Adriano wrote. “I went from heaven to hell. For real. I was back in Europe with Inter. I got a call from home. They told me my father had died. Heart attack.
“I don’t really want to talk about it, but I will tell you that after that day, my love for football was never the same. He loved the game, so I loved the game. It was that simple. It was my destiny. When I played football, I played for my family. When I scored, I scored for my family. So when my father died, football was never the same.
“I was across the ocean in Italy, away from my family, and I just couldn’t cope with it. I got so depressed, man. I started drinking a lot. I didn’t really want to train. It had nothing to do with Inter. I just wanted to go home.
“To be honest with you, even though I scored a lot of goals in Serie A over those few years, and even though the fans really loved me, my joy was gone. It was my dad, you know? I couldn’t just flip a switch and feel like myself again.
“Not all injuries are physical, you understand?”
It has been said countless times that Adriano has been enduring tough times in the favelas, but he laughs off those reports.
“The press were saying that I had “disappeared.” They were saying that I had gone back to the favelas and was on drugs, and all kinds of crazy stories,” Adriano wrote.
“They were publishing photos of me and saying that I was surrounded by all these gangsters, and that my story was a tragedy. But I have to laugh, because they don’t know what they’re doing when they talk like that. They don’t understand how much they’re showing their ass.
“I went back to my people, my friends, my community. I didn’t want to live up in the castle on the hill away from everyone.”