Pato, from revelation to torture

A predestined one, went early from revelation to testing.

“I still remember the applause, I still hear it in my ears and I will carry it with me for the rest of my life.” It’s the line of a depressed Jake LaMotta at the beginning of Martin Scorsese’s film Raging Bull that inevitably brings us back to the parables of many athletes. Scrolling down Alexandre Pato’s Instagram profile, only a certain bitterness can overcome us. Crack he has now been free since the early 2010s, sporting a beaming smile as he tries to recover from another knee operation. Looking at the photos of 33-year-old Pato, who is more than just a successful soccer player, one thinks of the aged and melancholic boxer Scorsese portrays.

Just 12 years ago, on April 2, 2011, Pato he sealed it with a brace against Inter the eighteenth AC Milan Scudetto. Just 43 seconds after kick-off, the Brazilian had already made it 1-0 behind Julio Cesar and sent the San Siro crowd into an uproar.

“I had reached the top of the mountain and I am done downstream“.

These are the words of Pato in an interview he gave to the Gazzetta dello Sport a few years ago, where he openly admits: «I miss Italy and the Italians, the warmth of the fans. I would like to return to Milan and Maldini knows it: I would be ready». It was certainly not Pato’s first and last declaration of love for his Milan. On the contrary, rumors of the Duck’s return have become a leitmotif of Rossoneri transfer market meetings in recent years.

At the same time, any attempt to restart the Brazilian has been paired with his candidacy for the Devil’s leadership. This happened for example during his time at Villarreal with an interview given to Sky: «I’m in love with Milan and the Rossoneri, I couldn’t resist a return». It also happened after the termination of the contract with San Paolo. Then during the Stars and Stripes bracket. And finally about a month ago after leaving Orlando City. A real obsession that torments the Brazilian, the regret of the applause of the San Siro that is still in his ears and that will probably torment him throughout his life.

Pat, agood boy Young

As in Martin Scorsese’s best films, the rise of Pato is combustion, as devastating as the fall was. A high-level career lived at a crazy pace, like the one the Brazilian poured onto the green rectangle. Yet if the Italian-American filmmaker’s stories are often set in the beating heart of the world, New York, the Duck’s story begins at the antipodes.

The rise of Pato is combustionas devastating as the fall was.

Pato is the son of Brazilian province, deep and rural. Anyone looking at Brazil at night from the satellite is struck, firstly, by the size of the fifth largest country on earth, secondly, that the lights on the map, emanating from the major metropolitan areas, focus on a few points along the coast, leaving a huge one dark room inland. It is found in boundless dark space Pato Branca, a citizen of the State of Paranà, to whom Pato owes his birth and nickname. An agglomeration of just over 70,000 inhabitants, also known as the birthplace of Rogerio Ceni, second player with most official appearances in the history of football who ironically reflects on his fellow citizen’s career.

By the age of 10, Pato had already broken his arm twice, it seems another ironic coincidence, but in reality it’s a bone tumor and he needs emergency surgery. The following year he left his homeland, in the best tradition of South American stories leaves Paranà and crosses Brazil, towards Porto Alegre. He does so hoping to find his favorite jersey in goal, Gremio’s; finally he finds his father’s favorite shirt, that of city rivals Internacional. Distance from family will be another concern for the Brazilian throughout his career, who will explain:

when i go backI would ask my parents to stay with me in Milan. If they had always been with me, I would have had more support.”.

In Porto Alegre they remember a quiet boy dedicated to the cult of the gate and more than that of nightlife. The rise to champion in the green and gold soccer scene is unstoppable. Pato at just 16 years old dominates top scorer in the Brazil U20 Championship, then scoring in his debut at the Brasileirao, Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup, beating Pelé to become the youngest-ever goalscorer in an official FIFA competition. The die has been cast, the plane for Europe is already on the runway.

“Pato was already a potential champion at 16, in youth teams days. It was obvious it was different. He still had to learn almost everything. But it had hits. Physical strength, good head, great personality”.

Paulo Roberto Falcao


The film The Last Temptation of Christ is one of the most controversial in Martin Scorsese’s filmography. The film reinterprets the dedicationshowing a more human than divine Jesus Christ who abhors his own condemnation of the Messiah since birth with an intolerance that makes him (almost) abandon his mission.

defeat Jesus
Scorsese’s Jesus, played by William Defoe

Pato comes to Milan at the age of 17 and already has the mark of the future champion. At home they talk about a phenomenon, from Falcao to Dunga, and for him Milan pay the highest sum ever paid for a small player. The duck enters the dressing room of the strongest team in the world, which had won the Champions League a few months earlier, and at eye level. At just under 18, his jersey sits somewhere between Ronaldo’s and captain Paolo Maldini’s. Opposite him are his heroes: Kaká, Dida and Cafu.

Carlo Ancelotti, after admiring him at the U-20 World Cup, already sees a Ballon d’Or future for him but there’s a problem: he can’t put him on the pitch. The early days of the duck arrives in Milan is such that Braida will have to wait for the winter transfer market to register him and wait for the South American to turn 18. However, the waiting semester has a therapeutic character and serves to integrate the attacker perfectly into the AC Milan system.

As a matter of fact on January 13, 2008 Pato for the first time He reveals himself in the San Siro, and he does it with a purpose. A ball swept by the Rossoneri defense becomes good for the Brazilian, who at high speed leaps over his client with a quick check to score the final 5-2 goal behind Napoli goalkeeper Iezzo. From then on, Pato was a torrent, 9 goals in his first experience with the Rossoneri. The following year he is already the team’s top scorer.

Pato’s goal on his Milan debut. Control oriented like a champion, cold like a veteran before De Santis. An impressive goal

The good boy becomes wild bullsometimes evokes the power of the phenomenon, others the aristocratic elegance of Kaká. Pato goes from 0 to 100 in half a second while maintaining magnetic control of the ball. Dribbling, the hallmark of the house, is not technical dribbling, but a quick gesture, counteracting the mind of the defender, who sees the Brazilian running past himself as he accelerates. With the imminent demise of the “heroes of the Christmas tree”, Pato becomes the Messiah, come to save Milan and usher in the post-Ancelotti era.

pato, kingFor a night

The consecration takes place in the year of the Scudetto. In the 2010/11 season, Pato settles behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Milan’s second top scorer 16 goals overall, including the very tough brace in the Scudetto derby against Inter. On September 13, 2011, at the Camp Nou, Milan faced Guardiola’s Barcelona, ​​undoubtedly the strongest team of the moment and one of the best sides in the entire history of football. Just 20 seconds after kick-off Pato burns three Blaugrana defenders in midfield, 4 seconds after the ball is in the net, the Camp Nou Blaugrana is silent and Pato is king for a night.

But what it seems the night of epiphany becomes the beginning of Calvary.

From the night in Barcelona until the end of the season, the Paranaense will only take the field 15 more times between Serie A, the Italian Cup and the Champions League. AND the beginning a nightmareFrom an endless valley of tears littered with broken, torn, inflamed muscle fibers. The man who was to mark the beginning of Berlusconi’s Third Republic in Milan instead decreed their sunset.


Exponential, exaggerated muscle growth. Seven kilos of muscle mass in four years, that’s the root of Pato’s fall. The enfant prodige, Peter Pan, the child arrived from Brazil, has lost his frank innocence, his spontaneous talent; It was transformed into a table by Milan Lab, corrupted by the demands of modern football, muscular and muscular. His muscles proved to be tools of the trade that were as powerful as they were fragile. The Brazilian’s physique hasn’t kept up, Pato has played just 25 games in his last two seasons with the Rossoneri, most of them just minutes. It is the second act of the tragedy, the one in which the veil is lifted and the catastrophe is revealed.

Like Icarus who died at sea to reach the sun wax wings built by Milan Lab for Pato, they melted at the peak.

It is also the tragic end of the Scorsese anti-heroes, mafiosi, brokers, athletes who, after tasting greatness, develop indigestion until they suffocate. Crushed by the will to power. Finally, as for Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, as for Ace in Casino, as for Henry Hill in Goodfellas, it is a woman who gives Pato the coup de grace. The boss’s daughter, scion of one of the richest families in Italy and heir-elect to her father’s sports empire, There femme fatale by Alexandre Pato is Barbara Berlusconi. The relationship between the Brazilian forward and the Cavaliere’s third-born began in 2011 and ended two years later after the Brazilian’s departure from Milan.

The injuries and the unbridled rumors of Milanese gossip are eating away at the career of Paranaense, who becomes a ghost with the ball at his feet from the Catalan night. The concept of Walking Dead applied to football, a accomplished player, retired for over a decade, already reduced to wintering abroad at 24. It’s strange to think that Alexandre Pato is only 33 years old today, the age of Bale, of Jordi Alba, of Thomas Muller, of Aubameyang, players who until recently were still playing in the top division. It’s strange to think of Pato, what he was, what he could have become and what he has become instead: a fragile talent inside and out, with the roaring applause of the Barcelona night like a constant tinnitus.

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