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Alexandre Pato

Alexandre Pato is possessed with the speed and touch to trouble defenders

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Alexandre Pato returned to Brazil in 2013

Alexandre Pato returned to Brazil in 2013

Stanley Chou / Getty Images
AC Milan have so much hope invested in young striker Alexandre Pato. In an ageing squad, the sprightly 20-year-old represents the future of the Italian giants. Possessed with the pace of a gazelle, a fine first touch and an unerring finish in front of goal, the Brazilian has all the attributes to make it big in the world game.

His full name is Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva, but he is commonly known as Alexandre Pato because of his place of birth, Pato Branco. His nickname is “The Duck”, the literal translation of "Pato" from Portuguese.

Quick Facts:

  • Name: Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Date and Place of Birth: September 2, 1989 in Pato Branco, Brazil
  • Position: Striker
  • Current Club: AC Milan (Serie A)
  • Previous Club: Internacional (2006-2007)
  • International Career: 2008 to present

Early Life:

Many soccer players start young, but Pato’s rise to prominence began at a particularly early age. He started playing indoor soccer (futsal) at the age of 3. Word spread about the youngster’s ability in the southern state of Parana and he tried out for Gremio, in Porto Alegre. But he was turned away by his favorite childhood team when only just into double figures.

However, it didn’t take long for him to find a club as Gremio’s bitter rivals Internacional were keen to sign him. At 11, he was sharing club accommodation with over 80 other boys all desperate to make it into the Internacional first-team.

Life at Internacional:

Pato made his first-team debut in November 2006 when he was just 17. He didn’t disappoint, providing three assists and a goal to set tongues wagging in the stands. At the end of that year, Pato scored in the Fifa Club World Cup against Al-Ahly, as his side won 2-1 to reach the final. He was also involved as they stunned Barcelona to win the tournament.

The AC Milan Move:

A few months after helping his country claim the 2007 South American Youth Championship, it was officially confirmed that the most coveted teenager outside Europe would be joining Milan for almost US$40 million. Due to Fifa rules regarding non-EU minors, he was unable to play competitively for the Rossoneri until 3 January 2008.

With Milan enduring a poor season, they wasted little time in giving Pato his debut and he delivered in spectacular fashion, scoring once in a 5-2 destruction of Napoli. He finished the 2007-08 season with the impressive tally of nine goals in 20 matches. It is rare for one so young to swap continents and settle with such ease.

Pato has gone from strength to strength, and in the 2008-09 campaign he finished as Milan’s top scorer with 15 Serie A goals.

His 2010-11 season was truncated by injury, but he nonetheless scored 14 league goals as Milan won their first scudetto since 2004.

Brazil Career:

Pato broke Pele’s 48-year record by becoming the youngest scorer in a senior Fifa competition (17 years and 102 days) when netting in a friendly against Sweden at the Emirates Stadium, London. It was a real opportunist’s strike as he chased down a long-ball, blocked the goalkeeper’s clearance, and curled left-footed into the net from an acute angle.

Pato was also selected by coach Dunga for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and after being overlooked for the 2010 World Cup, he made the trip to Argentina for the 2011 Copa America. Pato scored twice in a 4-2 win over Ecuador, but could not prevent his side going out to Paraguay on penalties in the quarter finals.

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