Once considered one of the most talented youngsters we have ever seen, at only 24 years old Pato would be considered a flop.
Pato began his career at the age of 16 years old at Sport Clube Internacional. On his debut match, he would score in the first minute with a pinpoint shot at the bottom right corner and would also add two brilliant assists before being subbed out in the 77th minute. His astronomical first season would rise to a different level when he broke Pelé's world record for being the youngest player to ever score in a FIFA official tournament. This would cause his hype to explode,making headlines for the top sports magazines in the world.
Pato playing for Internacional
A new star is born
In 2007 Pato was transferred to AC Milan for a fee of 24 million euros (currently 139 million reais) Everyone was talking about this Brazilian wonderkid who had the world at his feet, and he did not disappoint, scoring once again on his debut against Napoli. His first season was extremely successful as he scored 9 goals and had 3 assists in 20 matches. Even the great legend Cafu, when asked about Pato's first season at the club, sai that "If he dedicated himself the way we believed he would, he would have become the greatest striker we have ever seen". In the 2008-2009 Serie A season Pato would lead the goalscoring charts for his club with 18 goals in 42 games, while his teammate and recent Ballon Dór winner Kaká scored 16 in 36. In the 2009-20010 season, Kaká left the club to join Real Madrid and Pato became in charge of leading his club into success, yet the pressure did not affect him, scoring 12 goals and having 1 assist in 23 games for the Serie A. Pato continued improving and in the 2010-2011 season he would have the best season of his entire career, with 16 goals and 4 assists in 33 games, and became the first Brazilian to ever win the Serie A young player of the year award. Despite this, however, his biggest achievement that season was scoring the 5th fastest goal in Champions League history against Barcelona, only 24 seconds after kick-off.
Pato after scoring against Barcelona in the Champions League
His downfall came shortly after his peak, having constant hamstring and muscular leg injuries This meant that, for the next two years, Pato would only be able to play in 25 games. Doctors believed that since he had grown 8 cm in 3 months at 21 years old, his body was still quite weak, causing the injuries. He would then return to his country and play for Corinthians for a Brazilian League record breaking fee.
When Pato was officially a player for Corinthians and the fans went wild. Everyone wanted to know how the football star would play once again in Brazil and the expectations were insane. To top it all off he continued his streak of scoring in debuts against Oeste in a 5-0 victory. Unfortunately, however, his season did not follow the same pattern, as he once again struggled with injuries and only scored 17 goals in 2 years.
The Penalty that changed his career
Towards the end of his time at Corinthians he was not able to play well. His biggest criticism was that he did not run, it didn't seem he wanted to win, but this could all change in the quarter-finals of the Copa Do Brasil where Gremio and Corinthians went to penalties. The shootout was 3-2 Gremio and Pato had to score to keep Corinthians alive. Against him stood Dida, a world-renowned keeper, Champions League winner and expert penalty saver. He then decided to chip very weakly, and Dida easily saved the penalty that eliminated corinthians. Everyone went crazy including the players and manager, "everyone wanted to hit him" said Douglas, a former Cortinhas player, and Emerson Sheik, another one of his teammates, said "Tite destroyed him".
Pato after missing the penalty
Pato, although not retired, has vanished from the pinnacle of the sport. After Corinthians he went to different clubs and was never able to once again play like his former self. Alexandre Pato is the definition of a star that did not succeed.
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