- By William Taylor – Non League correspondent & Fall From Grace Creator @WilliamTaylor0
Fall From Grace is a weekly feature on TheFutbolNetwork where William Taylor takes a look at players who were once hailed as the game’s finest or on the cusp of greatness but have since fallen away into obscurity. This weeks edition looks at former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato.
Alexandre Rodriguez Da Silva or Pato, for short. Once the future of Brazilian football and regarded as one of the brightest sparks to come out of Brazil since the 1990s. The wonderkid who was supposed to take Europe by storm and lead Brazil to glory. Not quite. Alexandre Pato is now a 25-year-old playing for São Paulo, in Brazil’s top division, wondering what might of been and perhaps, what could be.
However, the fact Pato is only 25 does not disguise his fall from grace as not too long ago he was tipped to become the next big thing in South American and European football. He showed such promise from an early age where at just 17 he lead Internacional to a FIFA Club World Cup and became the youngest player to score at a FIFA event, breaking the legendary Pele’s long standing record from just under 50 years before. Easy to see where the hype came from. He played part in a fantastic season for Internacional and earned himself a move to what was a European Super Power, AC Milan.
Though he was not allowed to play for them until the January of 2008 due to FIFA regulations, he managed 9 goals in just 20 appearances in his first Serie A season. His first full season in Italian football showed that the young man was living up to his hype as he bagged 18 goals in 2008-2009, finishing as Milan’s top goal scorer. It was under no dispute that the young gun was already a huge talent and could go on to incredible, incredible things. The following season he impressed furthermore by staying consistent in the league, becoming the first Brazilian to win Serie A Young Player of the Year and memorably bagging two second half goals at the Bernabéu in the Champions League.
The following year, Pato suffered three hamstring injuries in just four months at the begging of the 2009-2010 season and though he did score when he was fit, he wasn’t fit often enough. While he was injured, it was heavily rumoured and hinted by his now ex-wife that Pato enjoyed the party lifestyle a little bit too much as he appeared to become less interested in his football and more in the party afterwards. Alexandre’s attitude became poorer and it reflected in the upcoming years as Pato could only manage four goals in the 2011-2012 season. It was apparent the wonderkid was falling from the pace he set himself and following an equally poor 2012-2013, where he managed just two goals, he was eventually sold to Corinthians for €15 million.
Still, in his native home and where it all began, Alexandre struggled. He only managed 17 goals for the club over two seasons and was heavily criticised by the clubs fanbase for his consistently missed chances. Pato ended up getting loaned out to São Paulo at the start of the Brazilian season, which is currently ongoing.
At 25, Pato is reportedly looking to reignite his career and eyeing a move back into Europe. This doesn’t take away from the fact that he did appear to throw it away and he may be that little bit too risky for an investment from any top clubs. Nevertheless, we at TFN all wish Alexandre the best and hope he learns to fulfill that undoubted potential.