What happened to Robinho?
Recently I was looking through old Panini FIFA World Cup sticker albums and came across the German World Cup edition. I picked the book out of the pile and flicked through the pages until I found the bright yellow double page spread of world champions, at that time- Brazil.
Back in the day when every opposition shuddered at the sight of the Brazilian national team, there always seemed to be a fine replacement in their national squad when one of their world class players retired from the squad.
Adriano was seen as being 'the next Ronaldo'. The goals he was producing at club level and for Brazil, especially at the World Cup warm-up tournament, the Confederations Cup, proved him to be an ideal replacement. Ronaldo, a world class striker, was to appear at his last World Cup where he scored one more goal than Gerd Muller's record 14 goals at the finals.
The double page spread featured pictures of Brazil's elite footballers who were favourites to lift the World Cup for a record sixth time. The faces of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Kaka gave a strong indication of what an exceptional squad the manager, Carlos Alberto Parreira, had in front of him.
Also featured on the page was a young 22-year-old called Robinho, a Real Madrid signing in 2005, already making a name for himself representing one of the finest clubs in the world. Many touted him to be one to watch out for in the future. Brazil fans hoped that Robinho would follow in the footsteps of Pele and Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, a fellow Brazilian team mate, played alongside the young forward at Madrid. The pressure of being overshadowed by one of the greatest finishers in the business pushed Robinho into a tough place to be at for any footballer trying to prove his footballing talent to the spectators.
At the 2006 German World Cup, Robinho was in the starting line-up once and was a substitute on three occasions but did not score a goal at his first World Cup. He was frustrated throughout the tournament especially after coming on with 11 minutes to spare against France in the quarter-final in an attempt to level the score line after Thierry Henry had put the French ahead.
Sadly, on this occasion, Brazil got knocked out by France 1-0 and Robinho had a lot to learn from the tournament. Many thought Robinho might get a better opportunity by becoming the country's number one forward at a future World Cup.
In 2007, Ronaldo said goodbye to the Bernabeu and headed to the AC Milan half of the San Siro. This was seen as an opportunity for Robinho to come out of the shadows and be the main man up front for Madrid.
But Ruud Van Nistelrooy came onto the scene after being signed from Manchester United. The Dutch forward carried on his goal scoring form and finished his debut season for Madrid as the club's highest goalscorer in the 2006/07 campaign with 25 goals. Robinho only scored eight in all competitions.
After a three year spell at Madrid, Robinho would go onto leave on a could-have-done better note.
Robinho heads to the Premier League
On deadline day of the 2008 summer transfer window, Manchester City were given a highly generous amount of money to spend after being bought out by the Arab investment company Abu Dhabi United Group. Man City signed Robinho for £32.5million thereby denying Chelsea the opportunity.
Within a couple of months at City, Robinho was settling in well at the club scoring on his debut game in a loss to Chelsea before picking up his first hat-trick for the Sky Blues against Stoke City. Robinho was City's top goalscorer that season with 15 goals in all competitions.Enter caption
But his second season, 2009/10, proved to be one to forget as Robinho began the campaign on the sidelines with an injury that lasted for three months, he only played in 12 games and left Man City at the end of this season.
Robinho's team mate at Man City, Craig Bellamy, recently revealed on Sky Sports' 'The Debate' show that Robinho was disappointing to play with.
“He just let me down. I just felt he was such a top player, but, the feeling I had was he was too big for Man Cty at that time – and us players who were with him were lucky to be with him." Bellamy joined City 12 months after Robinho signed for the Manchester club and only played with the Brazilian international for a few months before the South American moved back to his boyhood club Santos on loan.
Here there and everywhere
Robinho only played two matches at Santos before being picked up by AC Milan where he would go onto play in Italy for five years from 2010 and appear in over 100 games while finding the net 25 times.
Robinho last played in Europe in 2015 before making a move to the Chinese Super League joining Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao. Robinho was reunited with former national team boss Luiz Felipe Scolari who is the last manager to take the South American country to glory at a World Cup.
He only played 10 games in China's top football division as he then went back to his home country to play for Clube Atletico Mineiro in 2016.
Could Robinho still be a player for Brazil?
Now, at the age of 33, Robinho still gets picked to wear the famous yellow and blue kit of Brazil. His last appearance for the national side was earlier this year in January against Colombia in an international friendly, the first match at international level for Robinho since the 2015 Copa America in Chile where he put one goal past Paraguay.
The upcoming World Cup in Russia is just a few months away but the possibility of Robinho being named in Brazil's tournament squad is unlikely.Published 08 Sep 2017, 21:29 IST