The new jewels
Cassio, Lucas, Alexandre Pato, Renato Augusto and the twins Rafael and Fabio are the most promising talents in Brazil. Who are they? Can they one day replace Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho?
Alexandre Pato needed only 94 seconds to score his professional goal. “The Duck”, as he has been nicknamed, was given his first outing in a Brazilian championship match against Palmeiras last November and made an immediate impact.
Alexandre, full name Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva, scored the opening goal with his first touch of the ball, set up two more after turning the Palmeiras defenders inside out with his dribbling, and then headed against the post just before the hour. By the time he went off, Internacional were leading 4-0.
Less than one month later, Alexandre helped Inter win the FIFA Club World Cup, scoring in their firs game against Al Ahly, and one month after that he helped Brazil win the South American U-20 Championship in Paraguay.
Internacional had known for some time that they had something special on their hands – so much so that Alexandre often trained in secret, away from the prying eyes of European clubs, while his team-mates were asked not to mention him in interviews.
He has only allowed to make his debut after signing a new contract, which gave him a fivefold wage increase and keeps him at the club until the end of 2009. The club also inserted a USD 20 million buy-out clause for any foreign club that wants to sign him before then.
Alexandre is strong in the air and combines strength, pace and exceptional dribbling ability with a cool head. Perhaps his best goal to date was in a Copa Libertadores tie at home to Emelec when he slipped past his markers and found the corner of the net with a shot on the run from the edge of the penalty area.
Alexandre, who has one brother and a sister, was raised in the town of Pato Branco (which translates literally as “White Duck”) in the state of Parana and was first noticed playing for a futsal team as a seven-year-old. He was given his first trial by Internacional in December 2001 and moved to the club three months later, where he shared lodgings with 83 other apprentices. His father, Geraldo, made the 500-kilometre journey every two months to visit him.
As a part of the deal aimed at keeping him for as long as possible, Internacional have since 2moved him to his own apartment.