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Pato wins the Ballon d'Or

The love story between the Brazilian and AC Milan in four steps

Pato wins the Ballon d'Or The love story between the Brazilian and AC Milan in four steps

It's hard to explain how much a player can become an icon for a fifteen-year-old boy. A poster in the room is not enough to synthesize all the adoration you feel towards an idol. But you want to keep it there, hanging, and near the front page of a magazine that says: 'Pato, now it's your turn'. It was his moment, in 2007. It was up to me, that I had just started high school and did not know how it would go. Basically nobody knows. The awareness that soccer was the sport I loved, I only had it at fifteen. Pato was the arrow of cupid: I fell in love before that young Brazilian, then football. It was only a consequence. Perhaps, if it were not for him, today I would follow another sport with passion. They are the roads of destiny, and I still did not know mine. Basically nobody knows.

Today I only know that in my head Pato won the Ballon d'Or. You will not believe it, but for me it went just like that. Tell me now if, about ten years ago, no one happened to hear this phrase, referring to Pato: "In three years this will win the Golden Ball". We all said it, even if now someone does not remember it. Time makes this effect. The players pass, the Ronaldo-Messi hegemony has arrived, Neymar has become the highest paid ever and the hype is concentrated elsewhere. But Pato, for me, was the hype reincarnated on two feet, some pimple and a curly and ruffled hair. Today Pato is far away, his career soared almost immediately to the stars and then crashed to the ground. Pato plays in China like so many of his colleagues disappeared from radars. Every now and then he sends love messages to Milan, on social media or in interviews: the fans are waiting for him, he wants to come back, but everything stays on the level of the jokes made at Christmas lunch ‘bout the girlfriend, but there is or ther’s not, but when you make us known, and show us a picture. The truth, the only, tangible, is that Pato and Milan are no longer together. But the love story was there, divided into four fundamental moments, which help to describe its talent. Four acts: the debut, the double at Real Madrid, the double in the derby and the goal against Barcelona. Pato's is a story without beginning or end. It is all a continuous development, waiting for a consecration that will never come. His story begins in medias res and the ending did not reach us, as an ancient work of which the last part was lost.


Act One

Last year we were there to brainworm on 222 million Neymar. Remove a "2" and you will have the price that paid Milan, in 2007, to make sure a Brazilian still a minor. That only began in January 2008. Here it is, the poster: Pato, now it's your turn. Here it is, the concept of hype: a player kept hidden for five months, all of whom spoke very well. Here it is, the debut with Naples. I was in front of the TV, there was talk of Ka-Pa-Ro, was one of Milan if not stronger, certainly more spectacular than ever. He came from the victory of his seventh Champions League. Kaka, from the Golden Ball. Ronaldo, there was Ronaldo at Milan. And then he, Pato. He presented himself definitely with a full neck shot, from a distance. A bomb, literally. Many of you will also remember the commentary by Caressa, in that game. The surprise of the commentator was also ours: nobody, until that moment, had seen that player on a field of Serie A. And could he miss the goal? No. In such a story, the goal could not be missing. A daring game, which also seemed to be shaken by that player. A challenge started with that resounding goal-not goal by Ronaldo, with Pato in the middle. A match that was a tornado, and even Pato was, and nobody could stay with him, no one could stop him. Pato, that day, you could only film: like a hurricane in the distance, and you're in the car and you can not help but take out the phone and resume what is happening, even if it would be better to run away, run away and run like that eighteen year old boy.


Second act

The narrator of Pato's story seems to be Fabio Caressa: he is always the Sky commentator to accompany him. Caressa is the aedo and the Brazilian footballer the poem to tell. And always the story of Pato seems to be accompanied by absurd games, which begin in a strange way, as strange and inexplicable is the career of ”the duck”. That evening, at the Santiago Bernabeu, the result was unlocked by a resounding mistake of Dida, who let slip the ball in a clumsy way. Raul did not forgive him. Milan was under. Then the Pirlo’s goal, another sensational event, from a Homeric poem: his shot with a dead leaf that deceives Casillas and puts the Rossoneri back on its feet. Yet, yet. Yet the stage is still taken by a Brazilian boy, who manages to amaze even in Europe. The first goal, an intuition: ball left to run without anticipating the movement, a foot raised for a shot that does not happen, Casillas (Casillas!) Deceived by that non-doing, which at that time proved to be doing the right thing. And the ball leaning in the door now unguarded. Then: the draw of Drenthe, unexpected, a shot from outside with Dida covered and late. Then: a goal unjustly canceled by Thiago Silva, revealed later by Ramos own goal. Caressa, the aedo, incredulous. Finally, the genius of Seedorf sees Pato left free on the right and draws a perfect parable, the Brazilian kicks the ball to the door in a perfect way, for a perfect ending that, always the aedo, defines just so. Two to three at the Bernabeu, Pato also protagonist in the Champions League.


Third Act

Caressa continues her story, and everyone listens, in silence. Fourth April two thousand and eleven, Milan travels in full sail towards the championship. First, though, there is a derby to win. And amazing things always happen. Pato takes forty-seven seconds to unlock the match. It acts as a predator, highlighting even the last of the skills that had remained to be demonstrated. Collects a dirty ball after a contrast between Robinho and Julio Cesar, and pushes him into the net. If Inter does not equalize, then, it is a miracle of Abbiati on Ranocchia and an incredible mistake by Eto'o, who pulls out a meter away from the free door. But this is the story of Pato, and Pato takes it: the Brazilian becomes lightning and rips the Nerazzurri defense, Chivu stops him in the only way in which he could stop the Rossoneri, in those years, that is with a foul. Direct red card. To close the match Pato thinks again, with a header on an assist of Abate that was more a strangled shot, but “the duck” believed in that mistake, has revalued, making the most of it: head and two goals to zero. The match will be closed by Cassano on penalty, at the ninetieth. Milan will win its eighteenth championship and the merit will also be Pato: sixteen goals, his personal best.


Fourth act

Caressa, tired, leans on a chair and lets go to a reconciling sleep. He dreams, and perhaps dreams of Pato with a golden ball in his hand. But the story is not over yet. There is the last act: the biggest, the one that sums up the others and that best tells Alexandre Pato. The favorite word of the Brazilian is speed. Understood as speed on the field, but also as time passes. Pato, at Camp Nou against Barcelona, ​​on the thirteenth of September, two thousand and eleven, has challenged the concepts of physics, met Donnie Darko outside the stadium and made himself explain the theory of Wormholes, he broke the barriers of space and time. Pato, that evening, passed between the blaugrana shirts, between incredulous players, who saw him move not on the field, but through fields of strength that only he knew, and present himself alone in front of Victor Valdes. A goal never seen of a player ever seen by others, who have caught only a quick image, a blurred picture. At that moment Pato reached its peak. And he never came back.

The work that has come to us is interrupted here, and it is a pity. If we think about it better, however, it can also be good: an unfinished story has a final that each of us can invent. Personally, I prefer one of the versions elaborated by scholars: those who believe in the total ascent, following the course of Brazilian play. An ascendant parable, in fact, which sees him touching the heights of football two years later, in 2013. With Milan raising its eighth Champions League and Pato who, a few months later, raises the Golden Ball, smiling to photographers.