Thursday 16 April ~
When a young boy is growing up, he has decisions to make. What does the future hold for him? What does he aspire to be? An astronaut? Builder? Doctor? Mechanic? These are not very popular choices and they are often made without truly thinking about it logically, but being a professional footballer is a very appealing future employment. It is strange then to hear the case of the Inter and Brazil striker Adriano who, at the ripe old age of 27, is “taking a break from football to consider his options”.
Come again? It's not everyone that has the ability to command over £100,000 a week in wages, lead an opulent lifestyle and play football professionally. Most players who retire will have a reason for doing so, but Adriano doesn't seem to have one. Past problems have been dealt with and he was starting to play regular football for club and country again. But this came as a bolt out of the blue, and he could lose it all as a consequence, with Inter preparing to cancel his contract.
One of the best known cases like this involved George Connelly, a utility player at Celtic in the 1970s. Connelly was on the verge of making the Scotland squad for the 1974 World Cup, before he fatally decided to walk out on the team when they were boarding a plane for Switzerland, allegedly worried about his wife who was expecting their first child. He then went missing from training with Celtic five months later and was taken off the payroll – he never played professionally again, though his actions were never fully explained. Jock Stein, then manager of Celtic, described Connelly as “a complex character”, words that have also been used, alongside less polite ones, to describe Adriano.
An even more surreal case is that of Peter Knowles, formerly of Wolverhampton Wanderers and a regular member of the England Under-23 squad. Knowles, like Connelly, was on the verge of making the full national squad, before he retired to become a Jehovah's Witness at the age of 24. Knowles explained his career change by saying that he believed that he might one day seriously injure an opponent and couldn't have that on his conscience.
It might be that Adriano feels that there is a spiritual void at the centre of the millionaire lifestyle and wants to get back to a simple life. It's more likely that he is behaving like an attention-seeking brat. Sam Inkersole