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Duck, Pato, Duck!

Jan
15
2008

I don’t take much notice of soccer — except for certain periods, or when it can’t be ignored — but one would have to be pickled in Prosecco to ignore the arrival in Milan of the latest teen star from Brazil.
Pato (real name: Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva), age 18, played his first game for AC Milan on Sunday.
Called a “dream debut” by the papers, he scored a goal contributing to the team’s 5-2 victory over Naples. He has been hailed as a possible “savior” for what’s been a mediocre season for Milan.
It’s easy to get caught up in his glow: on the field he’s long-legged, elegant and so young his shaggy hair resembles a puppy coat.
Brought over with a contract said to be worth US$ 20 million before he was of even minimum age to play in the Italian league, there’s a lot riding on a kid who, in his native country, is just old enough to qualify for a driver’s license and whose nick name is “The Duck.”
The future looks bright but it’s hard not to think of the trajectory star athletes often face. Best case scenario, he marries a plastic surgery addict, loses his mojo and earns major moolah in some minor league.
Worst case? The jury’s still out on Ronaldinho, called the “biggest disappointment” in the last World Cup but said to be one of the most marketable players and Ronaldo, the original Brazilian Phenomenon of this generation, who appears to have got his groove back on the field (starring alongside ducky teammate in Sunday’s game), but who has found it difficult to stay in shape, on point and out of the tabloids. (Not to be confused with Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo, who can’t seem to keep it in his pants, period.)
Maybe the game’s only part of the entertainment. In which case, just as we watch Britney become celebrity train wreck of our age (a là Liz Taylor) we also watch, with a volatile mixture of schadenfreude and sympathy, the rise and fall of star soccer players.
The alternative? Well, perhaps he’ll manage to dribble the dangers and follow the lead of teammate Paolo Maldini, nearly 40 and about to wind up a long, accomplished career plus a camera-ready family so far without scandal, too.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 8:38 AM | Permalink

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