Alexandre Pato had several opportunities to become the best Brazilian player but never managed to settle into the European elite. Now, in the United States he lives away from the high pressure that was demanded of him in Europe and with his team, Orlando City, he feels valued and loved for his teammates and fans. The Brazilian has granted an interview to The Players Tribune where he tells all kinds of anecdotes from the name of Carlo Ancelotti’s dog until his emergency operation for a tumor. Even the night where she left her boots in a brothel.
During his stay in Milan, he is not reminded of the goal he scored against Barcelona but of his long periods of absence due to injury. Before those moments he replied: “I should have answered these questions a long time ago, man. There were so many rumours, especially in Milan.. I’ve been partying too many times. I did not want to. He lived in a fantasy world. But when I wanted to talk, they told me to “focus on my football”. I was too young to disagree.”
Now 32 years old, Pato is a more mature player professionally and personally. Far away is that crazy young Brazilian, although he clarified in The Players Tribune that he left “ home very early. Perhaps too soon. When you’re 11, you’re not ready for the world. You go around chasing your dream, but you are alone, and it is very easy to get lost along the way. God gave me a gift, that’s for sure. I didn’t even play on a big pitch until I was 10 years old, because futsal was more fun. I still have a scholarship to a private school. Then one day I played in this school tournament, and an Internacional scout asked my dad, “Sir, have you considered letting his son try 11-a-side football?”
In his trial with Internacional, Pato ended up in the sex hotel because he had no money because his mother could not work due to back problems and his father was in charge of feeding his older brother, sister and him. “Son, this is the only place we can afford,” his father told him and the Brazilian replied: “Let’s do it, dad!”
“People were having sex while looking at Inter’s stadium”
He added about the stay: “The hotel was opposite the Beira-Rio, so people were having sex while looking at Inter’s stadium. I still joke with my father about this. If I did that today, I’d probably go to jail.
In those days the director of Internacional approached him to give him a first touch because he did not show up for training. His father had to run to the sex hotel to get his boots. “Fortunately, there was a big shot in the academy named Cocão, who had a boot endorsement deal.“, He commented on the person who helped him in his first weeks in the Brazilian team.
operation for a tumor
Alexandre Pato gave details about his arm tumor operation: “Approximately a year before entering the International, I had tripped over a chain in a parking lot and had fallen on my left arm. They bandaged me up so much that I was half human, half mummy. I played a tournament with my arm in a sling. After the cast came off, my friends and I played this silly game where anyone who got up from the couch was kicked unless he managed to get away. That was fun until I accidentally sat on my left arm and the pain was so bad it reached my legs.“. He was about to lose his arm if it wasn’t for the surgical intervention.
Paulo Roberto Mussi was the doctor who operated on Pato and, in addition, assumed all the economic expenses derived from the operation.
Your jump to Europe
His quality on the field caused him to go from the Under-15 International to the Under-17 to play in the Club World Cup. Pato scored in the semi-final and played in the final against Ronaldinho’s Barcelona. At that time, the most important Brazilian figure was Ronaldinho but the final he won the International 1-0.
“I could have gone to Barcelona, to Ajax, to Real Madrid. Why Milan?”
“Then I could have gone to the Barcelona, Ajax, Real Madrid. Why Milan? Well let me ask you a question back. Kaká, Seedorf, Pirlo, Maldini, Nesta, Gattuso, Shevchenko... Sheva was unplayable! Or Phenomenon, the REAL Ronaldo. He had to play with that guy. What a lineup, man. They had just won the Champions League. Milan was the best team back then. I was like, when is the next flight?”, Pato explains his decision to sign for the Italian team.
Alexandre Pato tells how his arrival in Milan was: “When I landed in Milan, I had to have an eye exam as part of the medical exam. Silly me, I pressed my palm too hard against my left eye, and when I opened it I could barely see. The doctor gave me some dilating drops, but I left the room almost blindly. So who shows up? The great Ancelotti.”
He went on to tell more about his first contact with the Real Madrid coach: “Carlo took me to the dining room. “This is Pato, our new striker”. They all stood up to shake my hand. Ronaldo, Kaka, Seedorf… WOW.”
“Ancelotti became a father to me. He even named his dog Pato.. Did you see that photo of him at the bus stop in Madrid, with the sunglasses and the cigarette? Good in Milan would show up to train in a helicopter. He lived in Parma and his wife knew how to fly one. He would come off as James Bond. If someone lived in style, that was Carlo”, he confessed that the Italian was like his father.
Meeting with Berlusconi
“One day Silvio Berlusconi called me. He was a great boss, always telling jokes. He was actually dating his daughter Barbara. Anyway, he used to dribble down the side of the field a lot, beating everyone. Then Silvio said: “Why are you dribbling him out?” He wanted me to play center. Carlo and Leonardo told me the same thing. That’s how I scored that goal at the Camp Nou. I was in the middle, I saw a big hole, I kicked it and ran. When Valdés came out I was like, S***, what do I do? Bargain? I tried to shoot to the left of him, but the ball went between his legs,” Pato said of his meeting with the Milan president.
Ballon d’Or dream
“I started dreaming too much. Although I was still working hard, my imagination was taking me to all kinds of places. In my head I already had the Ballon d’Or in my hand. You can’t help it man. It is very difficult not to be affected. Besides, he had suffered a lot to get there. Why shouldn’t I enjoy it?”
“When I won the Golden Boy as the best young player in Europe, in 2009, I didn’t think about the Ballon d’Or. I was just having fun! I was unstoppable when I lived in the present, but my head got stuck in the future.”
“Then in 2010 I started getting injured all the time. I lost confidence in my own body. I was scared of what people would say about me. He went into training thinking he couldn’t hurt me. If he hurt me, I didn’t tell anyone. I was recovering from a muscle problem, then I sprained my ankle and kept playing. He was swollen like a ball, but he didn’t want to let the team down. He wanted to please everyone. That was one of my flaws. People expected him to score 30 goals a season, but he couldn’t even get on the pitch. I could handle others doubting me”, Pato explained the reasons why he never won the Ballon d’Or.
Pass through Villarreal
“Villarreal coach Marcelino won me over with his message and I went to Spain. I had directed my own signing for the Spanish club. That’s how the game worked. That was a turning point for me. All these years he had been acting like he was still that kid in International. At 27 I realized that I had to change. I had to do my part. I had to take charge of my own destiny. Unfortunately, Villarreal didn’t work out, but Tianjin Tianhai was a revelation. When I went to China, I broke up with my girlfriend and moved there with a friend. Why? To connect with my inner self. Never had time to look at the big picture“, about his fleeting stage in LaLiga Santander.
“I went the wrong way. After China I was still single, so I decided to enjoy my freedom. I went to Los Angeles. I wanted the best hotel, the best car, the best parties. I ended up at this place where a girl was snorting coke next to me. Suddenly I wondered: What am I doing here? This was not what I wanted. It was an empty world. I asked a friend: “Am I really going to spend the rest of my life alone?“So I went back to Brazil and I texted my old friend, Rebeca, ‘Do you want to spend some time together?’ We had coffee and within seconds I was like, ‘Yeah, this is what I want.’
“I ended up in this place where a girl was snorting coke next to me”
After that story, Pato decided to take refuge in religion by going to church: “Man, it was a revelation. The Bible had all the answers he was looking for. I turned my head to the sky and said, “Lord, I don’t want this life anymore.” That day my life changed forever. Since then I have lived in a different reality. When I went to Orlando and hurt my knee last year, I could have collapsed. The next day I decided to come back stronger and now I know everything about knee injuries. If you ever have a wound, Call Doctor Duck.”
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Pato’s crazy life: sex hotel, Ancelotti’s helicopter, the friend who snorted coke…