On 14 August 2001, almost 22 years ago, a very young and overflowing Brazilian talent from Inter revealed himself to the world. He is sitting on the bench next to Hector Cuper in the prestigious friendly against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. He is 19 years old, landed in Italy a few days earlier, speaks little but has nitroglycerin in his feet, as well as a tumultuous soul. His name is Adriano Leite Ribeirowill become Emperor. Cuper throws him inside at 1-1: Hierro answered Vieri's goal from eleven meters. Adriano comes up with a tunnel, touches the net with his head, gets himself a free-kick from the edge. Seedorf goes on the ball, but from the bench Cuper lets out a loud howl: Adriano shoots! Running up and pom, from the right foot of the big guy with the Peo Pericoli eyebrows a surface-to-air missile crashes into the crossbar and lands behind Casillas. 2-1 Inter. Many years, many drinks and much pain later, that is, in the week that has just ended, the Emperor wrote a beautiful letter for The Player's Tribune, the online magazine that sports champions often use as a confessional: «The press does not understand that we are human beings. I was under too much pressure when I was the Emperor. I came from nowhere, I was just a kid from Rio who wanted to play soccer. And I've never stopped being like a kid who came out of the favela». With an open heart and career ended, perhaps wearing a few extra pounds but also the extraordinary humanity that made us love him. While the crossbar of the Bernabeu, almost 22 years later, continues to shake.
July 24, 2023 | 07:25
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