The Robinho story... part two

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As I was saying last week, young Robinho was a true gem.

Expectations were sky high in Brazil, the result of the two National Championships he delivered to Santos in 2002 and 2004. He was unanimously the country’s top football star.

When Real Madrid came sniffing in 2005, fans launched the “Fica, Robinho” (Robinho, stay) campaign. Young ladies and even grown men united to write letters and letters pleading him not to leave Santos.

Comparitvely, when Kaká left São Paulo for Milan in 2003 fans booed him, tagging him a “pipoqueiro” – which literally translates as  “popcorn maker” but in sport refers to someone that chickens out and fails to perform.

Adored by the fans back home, unlike Kaka 

But the clamor didn’t touch Robinho, who engaged in a battle with the Santos board to achieve his dream of playing abroad. He stopped showing up at training until club president Marcelo Teixeira accepted Real Madrid’s offer – Santos didn’t want to sell the pedaladas ace before the end of his contract, but the player left them no option.

If only Robinho knew what was to come in Spain...

It’s almost a blasphemy to say that going to Real Madrid is a wrong move. Playing for Fifa’s top club of the 20th century is the dream of any young footballer.

But to arrive at Santiago Bernabeu amidst the chaos of the end of the Galacticos era proved to be a complete disaster for the Brazilian. After a stunning debut, he only went downhill.

Spanish press kept questioning whether he wasn’t just another tricky player with no commitment or decisive power – something he failed to prove he was not. The stars were packing up, the merengues were disintegrating – and Robinho couldn’t dodge the cannonball.

Real Madrid: Right club, wrong time

He didn’t find help anywhere – not in the board, nor in the coaching staff. In fact, the main thing was that Robinho didn’t help himself. The Santos good kid became a selfish and pretentious best player in the world wannabe – and, ultimately, since he couldn’t achieve that, a whiny boy.

Then came the Real Madrid-Cristiano Ronaldo affair. 

Those who saw the Brazilian during his Santos days know he’s got what it takes to reach the summit. Robinho knows it too. It wasn’t Real’s fault that he couldn’t take the team further than the Spanish League, though.

Being offered as a makeweight isn’t the best scenario, but it’s part of the game, specially if your performances have been poor and the other guy’s flying high. But it was too much for Robinho’s pride.

I guess Real Madrid would have loved to have gotten rid of him at the first opportunity – if they had signed a big name player like Ronaldo or even David Villa. Since no one arrived at Bernabeu, well, the solution was to toughen up on the Robinho move.

Happy times ahead at Eastlands with Jo and Elano?

Chelsea handed the deal poorly (the shirt on the website debacle was an offense to Real Madrid) and, when everyone thought Robinho was going to spend some extra months idle in Spain, Manchester City snapped him up. A terrific statement by Sulaiman Al-Fahim and the club’s new management.

Will Robinho became the world’s best player at Manchester City? Hardly. But I do think he can raise eyebrows in the Premier League, help to elevate City’s game and prove to the Europeans he’s the real deal. Then we’ll see where he goes from there.