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Arise, Emperor Adriano!

Adriano at Inter Milan

Did you ever pick to play with Inter Milan [‘Internazionale’] on Pro Evolution Soccer 2006, just so you could control Adriano and let his ‘99’-rated finishing do the work? Same!

In recent years, a lot has been said about Adriano’s time on the footballing pitch, to the point where his later struggles seem to have masked his overall legacy. But in this special edition in Calcio Ultra, we are going to focus on the Brazilian’s shining moments in the beautiful game – a lot of which came in the famous black and blue half of Milan.

Now, I’m going to try my best to not fall into the trap that many journalists do – and that is to wax lyrical about a decidedly average team of the past simply because nostalgia has taken over our better judgement. So I’m not going to do that, and in fact I don’t even need to be wary of doing it. Why? Simple. Because this Internazionale team was one of the best I’ve ever seen on a single football pitch.

Wherever you looked, there was quality to enjoy. From Julio Cesar in goal, to Javier Zanetti, Marco Materazzi, Esteban Cambiasso and Luis Figo in front of him, there was a delicate blend of experience and youth to make for a cultured and explosive team sheet to play against. And when you add on their power forward up top, then you might as well not even show up to counter them! It would be bad for your health!

Some of the mentioned wiser heads remember their young striking colleague very fondly indeed. And not least because of how he was able to transform games by himself if they weren’t going in his team’s favour.

During the most prolific season of his career, Adriano was in peak form, scoring an impressive total of 42 goals in both domestic and international competitions. In September 2005, Inter rewarded him for his efforts with an improved contract running until June 30, 2010. And this came down to two things – his raw footballing ability, and undoubted dedication to the game.

Sure, after a number of personal issues, one faded to the detriment of the other, but for this brief, fleeting moment of pure joy in Adriano’s life – he spent it providing joy and excitement to his supporters. And above all else, that’s what we should remember.

Even though he might not have played for as long as any of us would have wanted him to at the highest level, there’s no doubting that the Emperor is an icon for those that he served. A promising future, ended far too soon. But still, a worthy inclusion on Ultra United’s ‘Icon‘ list.

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