Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pato - The prodigy

Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva, better known as Pato is the latest sensation to strike the footballing world. He has adopted his name to Alexandre Pato after the city he was born, Pato Branco. Pato made his debut for his club Internacional at the age of 17 and made a telling effect in the 4-1 win scoring one and setting up the other three.

In 2000, when Alexandre was 10 years old, x-rays from a broken bone revealed that he had a tumor in his arm. The doctors realized that the tumor would become cancerous in two months if not removed. Alexandre's family could not afford the surgery to remove the tumor, but the doctor, Paulo Roberto Mussi, was a family friend, and operated for free. This event was particularly significant because it occurred in a very crucial year when Alexandre was working towards a professional career with Internacional.

Pato made the football world take a note of him when he scored in the FIFA club world cup semifinals against Al-Ahly Cairo and helping them to a 2-1 win. Internacional won that edition beating Barcelona 1-0 in the finals. With this goal, Pato took Pelé's record as youngest scorer in the history of official FIFA competitions (17 years and 102 days, against Pelé's 17 years and 239 in the 1958 FIFA World Cup against Wales).

Pato from then on was scouted by many European giants like AC Milan, Benfica,Juventus, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Arsenal. And it was the current European Champions who got his signature for a fee of around €22 million. It was a dream come true for the youngster. Due to Italian football regulations regarding non-EU minors, Pato was unable to play official matches for Milan until January 3, 2008. Yet he was allowed to play in friendlies and scored in his non- competitive debut against Dynamo kiev in a 2-2 draw. And in January 4, 2008 his transfer became official.

Pato scored his first Milan goal in his Serie A debut against Napoli in a 5–2 victory at the San Siro. He has been a revelation since then and has scored 7 goals till now. He made his Brazil debut on March 26, 2008 and scored minutes after coming on as a second half substitute. And people have started comparing him with Pelé but Pato has said he is happy with the comparisons and that he just wants to concentrate to help his team earn 4th place for a spot in next season's champions league. At 18 he has a cool head and being at a club like AC Milan with players like Kaka, Pirlo around him he can only get better.

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