“Zanetti adopted me as his little brother”

the twilight of Ronaldo Nazario it was on the horizon. the extraordinary Korea-Japan World Cup 2002 It was already history and the Phenomenon was beginning to suffer the consequences of his cruciate ligament injury. Faced with this, 184 million Brazilians demanded a successor. And from the bowels of the favela of Vila Cruzeiro in Rio de Janeiro emerged a powerful center forward, who would step forward in the 2004 Copa América, at just 22 years old: Adriano Leite Ribeiro.

For the Emperor, football was an escape pod from crime, drugs, alcohol and bad influences. However, what he knew how to avoid in his youth was what ended up coming upon him when depression knocked on the door: nine days after winning that America’s Cup 2004 (he scored the agonizing goal for us in the tie in the final), he received the news of the death of his father Almir. From then on, Adriano could not get out of the label of eternal promise: when it seemed that he was heading for the Golden Ballbeing a figure in the Intersadness overwhelmed him and lowered his performance, to the point of not even showing up for training.


At Inter, the Emperor became the most feared 9 in the world.

Almost two decades after his explosion in Calcio, and after being at odds with the press for a long time, Adriano presents “Adriano Emperador”, a docuseries about his life. With Olé, he talks about the experience of telling his story, reviews his good relationship with the Argentines and acknowledges his desire to have been able to face Messi.

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“Emperor Ronaldo”

-How was it open to make a series?

-It was good, above all, for the people who know me only by name. Open up a bit of my space, of my world. For people to see who Adriano is inside, beyond the Emperor. I’m too shy. Everybody knows. So it’s something very important to show me. For me it was a great emotion to be able to reach the top of the world of football. And, now, it is a dream, both for me and my family, to be able to tell my story.

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Was there a part where you got emotional?

-In the part I talked about my father. Without a doubt. Every time I talk about him I start to shake. He was a very important person for my whole family. And Miss you so much. Not like before, but without a doubt I really miss that great man. The support of my friends was very important. When I needed them most, they were there with me, close.

-How did you find out and take the news?

-It was before a friendly match against Juventus, in the preseason. I arrived and they told me: “Your mother wants to talk to you.” I knew it was related to my father. He had some health problems and was a hard head. He was not taking the medicine as he should have. But it was worse than he imagined. After I got the news, I stayed in the room with Zanetti and we talked a lot. Javier was a person who always supported me, he adopted me as his younger brother.

"Javier always supported me"expressed the Emperor about the Pupi, his friend.

“Javier always supported me,” said the Emperor about Pupi, his friend.

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The executioner of the Selection

-How is your relationship with Argentines?

-I always got along very well with Argentine soccer players. I had a lot of contact with them at Inter. With Javier, but also with Cambiasso, Verón and Samuel. I have no problem with them, ha. The problem is solved on the field, haha. But I have a lot of affection for the Argentines. It is a country with people I love very much, with whom I shared a team. I take this opportunity to send you a big hug.

-One of your most important goals is well remembered in Argentina. The one in the 2004 Copa América final. What did that tournament mean?

-It was very important. I left Brazil very young. He was only 19 years old. Until then, I hadn’t had the opportunity to show myself to Brazilian football. So, the Copa América opened the doors for me. He helped make people aware of Adriano’s potential.

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-What would happen if the Brazil of Adriano, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho faced the Argentina of Messi?

-Obviously I’m going to say that we would win, heh. But unfortunately I did not have the privilege of having it in front of me. What player would not want to play against Messi, to be part of that show? Messi is the show. Nothing needs to be said about him. All the trophies, medals and Ballon d’Ors speak for themselves.

-There are four months left for the World Cup. Who do you see as a candidate? Brazil? Argentina? France?

-Brazil! Unfortunately I couldn’t win a World Cup, but my heart goes out to the players. I know what a responsibility it is to play a World Cup and I think the Brazilian team is ready to win the title again in Qatar.

The "magic square": Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Adriano.  Only in Germany 2006.

The “Magic Square”: Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaká and Adriano. Only in Germany 2006.

-Finally, do you feel that you were one of the most misunderstood footballers in history?

-Yes. I think so. At the time, people did not accept my decisions. They did not take us footballers as normal people. We have to know how to understand people, no matter if they are athletes or ordinary workers. We all go through difficulties and even more so when you lose a loved one. Although the opinion of others was not important to me, one was sad because I felt that they only saw the footballer, not the human being.Why am I going to regret what happened? First I thought of my happiness. We all make mistakes and we should have the opportunity to improve.

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