Adriano was one of the most talented strikers of his generation, but never quite fulfilled his huge promise during a career spent playing in Brazil and Italy.
At his best the former Brazil international, who turns 40 today, was a bulldozer of a striker who could score eye-catching goals with his rocket of a shot.
But ultimately his off-the-pitch problems derailed his playing career, meaning he never broke into the elite of the elite in the noughties.
Adriano won four Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies with Inter Milan and the Copa America with Brazil, as well as numerous individual awards for goalscoring.
However, these days the Brazilian striker, who was known as “The Emperor”, is best remembered for his colourful life away from football.
On his birthday, here are six of the best tales from Adriano’s career…
Nearly joining Chelsea
Adriano was at his best during a five-year spell with Inter Milan
Adriano is best known in Europe for his time with Inter Milan, but he could have left a completely different impression in England, had a 2008 transfer gone through.
Back in July 2008, Inter manager Jose Mourinho was trying to lure Frank Lampard to Milan.
After an offer worth £7.95million was rejected by the Stamford Bridge outfit, Mourinho tried to sweeten the deal by offering Adriano as part of the transfer, according to The Guardian.
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Lampard was reportedly holding out on signing a new four-year Chelsea contract worth £140,000 per week.
“Mourinho and Adriano have met and talked, but I can’t say how this meeting went,” Adriano’s agent, Gilmar Rinaldi, told The Observer at the time.
“The player is flying back from Rio de Janeiro to Milan next week, as the pre-season starts on Wednesday. I will neither confirm nor deny that he will be exchanged for Lampard.”
Luiz Felipe Scolari wanted Robinho, but would have settled for compatriot Adriano. Ultimately the move fell through and Lampard ended up signing a bumper five-year contract the following month with Chelsea.
Adriano struggled to cope after the death of his father when he was just 22 years old
Adriano’s troubles need to be viewed in the context of his father’s death in 2004, which left the striker, who was just 22 years old, isolated and depressed thousands of miles away in Italy.
In a tell-all interview with R7 magazine, via the Daily Star, Adriano opened up on the impact the loss had on him and his subsequent struggles with alcohol.
“Only I know how much I suffered. The death of my father left me with this huge void, I felt very lonely. After his death everything got worse, because I isolated myself,” he said.
“I was alone in Italy, sad and depressed, and then I started drinking. I only felt happy when I was drinking, I’d do it every night.
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“I drank everything I could get my hands on: wine, whiskey, vodka, beer. Lots of beer.
“I didn’t stop drinking and in the end I had to leave Inter. I didn’t know how to hide it, I arrived drunk in the morning for training sessions.
“I always showed up, even if I was completely drunk and the medical staff had to take me to sleep in the infirmary.
“Inter told the press I just had muscular problems. I later realised that the problem was the people around me, friends who did nothing but take me to parties with women and alcohol, without thinking about anything.”
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Adriano had a fiery relationship with Jose Mourinho
DAMIEN MEYER/Getty Images)
When you read about Adriano’s clashes with Mourinho, it is easy to see why the Portuguese coach was keen to swap him for Lampard in 2008.
Speaking to the Players’ Tribune, the Brazilian striker revealed the extent of his arguing with Mourinho.
“In 2008, it was the time of Mourinho at Inter, and everything was just too much,” Adriano said.
“The press were following me everywhere, and everything with Mourinho was, ‘F*****g hell! F*****g s**t! You’re going to f*** me, aren’t you, boy?’
“I said, ‘Oh Lord. Get me out of here.’ I just couldn’t cope. I got called for the national team, and before I left Mourinho said, ‘You’re not coming back, you are?’ I said, ‘You already know it!’ One-way ticket, brother.”
Both Mourinho and Adriano got their wish, with a loan spell to Sao Paulo in 2008 followed by a permanent transfer to Flamengo in 2009.
Adriano was dogged by injuries during his playing career
Adriano was dogged with injuries throughout his playing career, with physical problems hampering his time at both club level and for Brazil.
But while there were numerous small problems, there was one major one which ultimately curtailed his career.
“When I popped my Achilles in 2011? Man, I knew that’s when it was over for me, physically,” he said in the Players’ Tribune piece.
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“You can get surgery and rehabilitate it and try to carry on, but you will never be the same. My explosiveness was gone. My balance was gone. S***, I still walk with a limp. I still have a hole in my ankle.
“It was the same thing when my father died. Except the scar was inside me.
“‘Man, what happened to Adriano?’ Brother, it’s simple. I have a hole in my ankle, and one in my soul.”
Former Brazil international Adriano hit the headlines in 2015
It is towards the end of his career, when he was in semi-retirement from football that the stories really ramped up.
In March 2015, an extraordinary one emerged in Brazilian outlet Extra, which alleged Adriano had reacted to a collapsed move to French side Le Havre in quite an extreme manner.
The 33-year-old reportedly flew straight back to Rio de Janeiro to drown his sorrows, splashing £13,000 to hire 18 prostitutes for him and his friends, who were staying at the appropriately-named Motel VIP.
The prostitution agency in Copacabana were reportedly confused at the sudden disappearance of their workers.
Adriano kept his sentimental items when moving into a hotel
Adriano has been busy enjoying himself since officially retiring in 2016.
Last year, Brazilian media reported that the former striker had sold his mansion – not because he was short of funds, but because he wanted the money for a different lifestyle.
The story, which was carried by the Daily Star , says Adriano sold his £1.2m mansion in Rio to move into the Grand Hyatt hotel in the Barra do Tijuca neighbourhood of the city – a luxury which costs £10,000 per month.
Adriano has frequently shared pictures of his luxury lifestyle on social media, which includes him lazing in a swimming pool and relaxing surrounded by champagne and a collection of trophies from his playing career.
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