by Jordan Adams - 05/24/2006
Ronaldo is a three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and a double FIFA World Cup winner. Ronaldinho has twice won the FIFA World Player of the Year along with being named European Player of the year in 2005. While these infamous strikers are the faces of the Seleção, it is another Brazilian phenomenon labeled 'Imperatore' (the Emperor) that will confirm his world-class standing and continue the success of South America's top football nation this summer in Germany.
The 24-year-old Adriano first began his career with Flamengo's junior team in 1999. His dazzling play was so impressive that after one year he was promoted straight to its first team. His combination of physical prowess and athleticism away from the ball attracted attention from Italian club giants Inter Milan who inked him in 2001.
This left-footed Brazilian has established himself throughout Italy as one of the best young strikers coming to the 2006 World Cup. While he claimed recognition with the Italian fans, Ronaldinho, notorious as the best player in the world, led FC Barcelona to the UEFA Champions League title in France earlier this month. He, along with Real Madrid's Ronaldo, is highly regarded in Spain, and the three are slowly capturing football spotlight all across the globe.
While playing for Brazil's U-20 squad, Adriano helped capture the South American Cup and also went on to be the second leading scorer at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina, registering six goals.
Continuing his success in the coming years, Adriano was recalled to the full national squad in 2003. Head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira brought the young striker up for a group of friendly matches. Young and fairly inexperienced, he was actually sent in as a substitute for Ronaldo in one of those matches. From then on he was dubbed as 'one for the future.'
In the 2004 final of the Copa America versus Argentina, Adriano struck in extra time to force additional play. His nation went on to capture the title in a shootout, only further establishing this young footballer's reputation for the big stage.
This year for Serie A Inter Milan, Adriano netted 13 goals in 27 matches, as well as six more scores in ten UEFA Champions League matches. His play in World Cup Qualifying helped Brazil not only secure a spot this summer in Germany but also to be considered as the favorite to repeat and capture FIFA gold.
Coming into the 2006 World Cup, Adriano will be one of the Golden Ball (player of the tournament) and top goal scorer favorites. Bodog currently lists Adriano fourth at 14/1 odds for player of the tournament. His Brazilian teammate, Ronaldinho, is first at 4/1. Adriano sits second with Ronaldinho for top scorer at 9/1 odds. Another Brazilian, Ronaldo, is the favorite at 17/2.
Adriano will form an unimaginable trio along side Ronaldo and Ronaldinho this summer. He brings an aerial threat and penalty-area striking ability to the Brazilian cause sure to make a lasting impression on the world of soccer for years to come.