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[OC] Adrian(Mutu) and Adriano. The Story of Two Brilliant Strikers Who Couldn't Live Up to Their Potential
I am a huge Serie A fan and I wanted to reminisce a bit about two players who I remember watching, and thinking that they will become two of the best strikers in the world, but who didn’t. This in fact is about the crazy early Parma striker duo of the Romanian, Adrian Mutu and the flashy Brazilian, Adriano) and how they went from two of the best young strikers in the world to two of the biggest ‘what if’ stories. In the 2002/03 the two strikers, who were only 24 and 21 respectively, combined for 32 goals also leading Parma to a 5th place finish. After that season, both players were destined for big moves, Mutu to Chelsea and Adriano to Inter a year later. After a couple amazing years, they fell off. Like Mutu and Adriano, there have been tons of former football stars who couldn’t reach their potential, all for various reasons, whether it’s injuries, a diva attitude or anything else that could have held a player’s career back. Mutu and Adriano’s cases were both very interesting: one player who couldn’t stay out of the party lifestyle filled with drugs and women, and the other who lost his father at only 22 years old, becoming depressed turning to a life of heavy drinking and gang activity. After their amazing start at Parma, people will always wonder what could have been for them. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This is not about the Parma Team which contained both players. Parma isn’t mentioned much outside of the players individual careers. This story relays both player’s individual success and fall from grace.
Adrian Mutu was born on January 8th 1979 in Călineşti, Romania to Spiridon and Rodica Mutu. He started his career at FC Argeș Pitești, his local team. He made 47 appearances for this club and scored 14 goals, his first coming at only 18 years old. In the next January window Mutu had acquired interest from several big Romanian clubs interested in finding the country’s next superstar. He ended up being bought by Dinamo Bucharest, where in his first full season he scored an exceptional 25 goals in 24 matches after only half a season. Mutu Highlights on Dinamo. At that point, Mutu was labeled as Romania’s best young player since Gheorge Hagi. His Dinamo performances meant that elite clubs, all over Italy and Spain, were interested in him. He ultimately chose Inter, but unfortunately his time there really did not last long, because of the 3+2 non-EU quota, which was later abolished during his time at Verona. Mutu did score one goal for Inter in a cup tie against rivals Milan. Mutu was given the chance to leave and get more playing time, so he left to join relegation favorites Hellas Verona, where he first met Parma and Fiorentina teammate, Alberto Gilardino. Mutu played at the club for 2 seasons where he scored 16 goals and saved Verona from relegation in 2001/02. Verona would get relegated the next year, and Mutu left the club on a loan deal with option to buy for mid table side Parma, who was coached by future Fiorentina manager Cesare Prandelli.
In Mutu’s only season at Parma, he scored 17 goals and played a huge part in them ascending from 10th the season before to 5th the next season. Just like his striker partner Adriano, Mutu requested a move from Parma and got it, as newly bought English club Chelsea signed the Romanian for a fee of €22.5m, a part of new owner Roman Abramovich's spending spree. Mutu was dubbed the Blues striker of the future after a debut goal vs Leicester. As if that couldn’t be topped, the next week Mutu scored a brace against Blackburn before adding another brace against Tottenham. Mutu's meteoric rise to superstardom in the English game was later accompanied by an equally rapid fall from grace. For the rest of the season Mutu was only able to score one more goal in league play and finished the season with 6 goals in 25 appearances. He scored in a Champions League game vs a very strong Lazio team, which was pretty much his last big, impactful performance for the team. Rumors said that Mutu’s bad attitude and constant smoking had begun to frustrate the fellow players. Rainieri still supported Mutu through his attitude problems, but unfortunately for Mutu, Ranieri was sacked at the end of the campaign and replaced by hardass former Porto Manager, Jose Mourinho. One of Mourinho’s first actions was alienating and firing up Mutu, by saying he was a ‘bad egg’, referring to his bad attitude and lack of care. Mourinho gave Mutu the opportunity to quit smoking and partying, but the Romanian declined. Mutu and Mourinho clashed which caused Mutu to no longer be a regular in the Chelsea eleven. Mutu then gave up on the team and avoided training and other team activities. One night when Mutu was driving back to Romania from London, he got into a car chase with the Romanian police after refusing to stop for speeding. Chelsea realized his sudden mood swings and lack of energy for the team, and decided to drug test him. Mutu’s drug test came back as positive for cocaine, it was the final straw for Chelsea, who decided to sack Mutu over breach of contract. Mutu blamed his cocaine usage on his divorce and lack of game time under Mourinho. He was banned for 7 months and fined $20,000. Ten Goals scored at Chelsea
Despite his troubled time in England, Mutu was still very highly regarded in the Serie A, so champions Juventus decided to give the self-destructive goal scorer a second chance to prove himself as a player and person. The transfer’s process was very odd and unexpected. Since Juve did not have any non-EU player spots left on their roster, Livorno, Juve’s partner club, bought Mutu and contemporaneously sold him to Juve. He made his first appearance for the Old Lady on May 29, 2005 after serving his 7 month ban. He joined Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in making one of the world’s most dominant striking corps. Mutu helped pitch in 7 league goals for the Bianconeri in his first season. Mutu was back, and was expected to have an even bigger season the next year, as he had been gaining more fitness after his long suspension. Unfortunately, that could never happen because the Calciopoli scandal caused the mighty Juventus to be stripped of the title and relegated to Serie B. Mutu left Juve like many other top players during this period. He left for Fiorentina, where he joined his former Parma coach Cesare Prandelli. By convincing Mutu to join the Viola and play alongside Luca Toni, Prandelli started to shape Mutu back into a productive scorer. He and Luca Toni combined to score 32 goals in the 2006/2007 season and lead Fiorentina to a 4th place season that year. He was crowned the best player in the Serie A that season by Il Calcio for 16 goals and 8 assists in 33 games. At this point, Mutu had regained his mojo and got back on track to becoming one of the best players in Serie A. Toni was then sold to Bayern Munich and replaced by Giampaolo Pazzini , who along with Mutu got the Viola in the Champions League for the second straight year. That created rumors of a Mutu move to Roma. The move deteriorated and instead Pazzini was sold, which led Fiorentina to buy another one of Mutu’s former teammates, Alberto Gilardino, who had been with him at both Hellas Verona and Parma. They combined for 33 goals and a 4th place finish for Fiorentina. All was looking good for the Viola and Mutu until he failed a drug test for doping 9 days before a Copa Italia match against Lazio. Mutu would go on to score twice in that game. His suspension lasted for 6 months and after serving it, Mutu was reinstated at Fiorentina. His second suspension even made Fifa(video game) infamously change Mutu’s name to Andrei Murgu. Mutu never regained the form he had at Fiorentina before his suspension and left for newly promoted Cesena a year later. There he bagged 8 goals in 28 appearances for the relegated club. Mutu ended his contract at Cesena after their relegation and left for French club Ajacco, where the region’s president claimed he was the highest profile player to ever play there. Mutu claimed he would go out and score more goals than Zlatan Ibrahimovic that season, but he had 11 and Zlatan scored 35. Pick em. The next year he terminated his contract with Ajacco, to return to Romania and try and make the 2016 Euro squad. That failed, and he left for India to play for Pune City before returning to Romania to play his last season, where he lasted just 4 games with ASA Târgu Mureș. All 69 of his goals at Fiorentina.
Mutu’s international career was similar to his club career in the fact that it could never fail to attract controversy. Mutu scored six goals in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign to take his country to their first major tournament since Euro 2000, where he also featured. At Euro 2008, Mutu scored Romania’s only goal but also missed a penalty that would have sent them to the knockout round. Mutu shouldn’t sweat it about his international performances, because he is the joint top goal scorer in Romanian history while playing 48 games fewer than Gheorge Hagi, the top goalscorer. Mutu’s Romania career was still partially overshadowed by stupidity, getting booted from the Romanian national team after he was found drinking at a bar with Gabriel Tamas, while their teammates were playing in a friendly match against San Marino. On November 21st Mutu was kicked off the team for the second time after posting a picture of manager Victor Piţurcă as Mr. Bean on Facebook. Controversial.
My idea of what happened with Mutu was the same story that occurs with many professional basketball and football players who came from humble beginnings. Once they started getting their fame and money, they don’t use it wisely because that’s not the lifestyle they are used to. Mutu’s story is a sad one, but one that is deserved of someone who doesn’t want to show enough effort to be great. A player who wants to be great, wouldn’t spend their weekdays partying, rather than training. Mutu was the striker that was meant to lead Chelsea for a long while. Had he not treated himself the way he did, maybe just maybe he would have been a legend.
Adriano Leite Ribeiro was born on February 17, 1982 in the city of Rio de Janeiro, to Almir Leite Ribeiro and Rosilda Ribeiro. He grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in all of Rio de Janeiro, Vila Cruziero. Vila Cruziero’s known by many for having a gang that captured, tortured, murdured and cut TV Globo journalist Tim Lopes to death after he filmed a few of their drug deals. As a kid, Adriano had an extremely strong bond with his father, who believed that Adriano could fulfill all his footballing dreams. But for Adriano, his dream wasn’t just football, it was also the wealth attached to the game. He wanted to live the lifestyle he never got as a kid. He got his chance and began his career as a 15 year old with local club Flamengo, where he proved himself for the youth team before being called up as an 18 year old to the professional team. From 2000-01, he made 24 appearances for Flamengo and scored 10 goals. His flashy skills and goals attracted interest from Inter Milan, who signed him from the Brazilian club at only 19 years old. In his first stint with the Nerazurri, he only managed 1 goal in 8 appearances for the club, struggling with the rigorous Serie A defenses. The youngster was loaned out to the Viola of Fiorentina, where he managed 6 goals in 18 appearances, becoming slightly better adapted to the Italian game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for him to be given a chance in Inter’s loaded striker attack, so the youngster was sold to mid table club, Parma in a co-ownership deal, where he was the given the chance to play alongside Adrian Mutu.
For Adriano, the move to Parma was a blessing in disguise, in 37 appearances spanned over 2 seasons he scored 23 goals. The first year he spent there with Mutu the two led Parma to an unprecedented 5th place finish, 5 spots higher than the year before. Mutu left, and the next year Adriano still scored goals with Italian, Alberto Gilardino. These impressive performances at Parma set a foundation for the young Brazilian’s career. As expected, the Nerazurri came back for the talented Brazilian and bought him back for £23 million, almost three times the amount he was sold for. He left Inter an immature kid and when he came back, he was a strong forward with the agility of a winger and the dribbling of a center midfielder. Serie A fans hadn’t see a player with his Brazilian flair since the great Ronaldo. In his first 16 games in Milan the Brazilian scored 15 goals and treated the rest of the Serie A like they were his puppets. He got the nickname “The Emperor” by the Italian Press. He scored a ridiculous goal against Udinese, running the entire field to beat multiple defenders and the keeper. Adriano was truly at his peak and the whole soccer world was at his fingertips.
From July 2004 to June 2005, Adriano scored a stunning 42 goals for club and country. At the 2004 Copa America, Adriano was the best player there, winning the tournament for Brazil, while also picking up the Golden Boot. If that wasn’t enough, the next year at the Confederation Cup, Adriano won the tournament and the Golden Boot again. This was the finest period in Adriano’s career. The Emperor was destined for greatness.
In late 2004, Adriano’s life took an incredibly turbulent turn, his father had died from a heart attack. The relationship Adriano had with his father was a big one; they were very close, with him being an inspiration to Adriano, and Adriano himself saying earlier in his career that impressing his dad was a large part of the motivation he had when playing football. After having the best year of his entire career, trying to commemorate his father, the Brazilian forward quickly fell into a deep depression of drinking and partying. For Adriano, football was no longer important to him, he stopped caring for the game and spent time drinking, partying, and living a luxurious life rather than showing up to training. The first time that everyone really started to realize that something was wrong with the Brazilian forward was in the 2006 World Cup, the one that the emperor was supposed to win for Brazil. Adriano was invisible that entire World Cup after two early group stage goals. Brazil were eliminated in the quarter finals by France, and that would be Adriano’s last World Cup.
By 2007 you could not find a picture of Adriano online that wasn’t at a nightclub. On February 18, 2007, Adriano skipped a team practice with Inter Milan following the lengthy effects of a birthday celebration the night earlier. Adriano had fallen out of favor at Inter after starting off the season with terrible form and fitness. To attempt to recover, Adriano was sent to FC Sao Paulo’s training center so he could regain his fitness; this spell later turned into a loan spell at Sao Paulo. Other clubs like West Ham looked at him but decided not to try and get him for a loan because of his massive weight gain. He started his Sao Paulo career magically with a brace on his debut, before causing more problems in Brazil off the field. He was fined by São Paulo on February 29 for arriving 30 minutes late for training, leaving early and exchanging vulgar words with a photographer. According to the team’s sporting director at the time, Marco Aurélio Cunha, Adriano “left the training ground because he wanted to. The team does not miss him. If he is not happy at São Paulo, he is free to go.” Adriano came back to Inter the next year, scored a few goals, then rescinded his contract on April 24th. He signed for boyhood club Flamengo where he played his best football in years. That season he led Flamengo all the way to the Brazilian Serie A title for the first time since 1992. He earned a move back to Italy with Roma, where he earned a ridiculous 5 million Euros a year. Roma terminated his contract after only 7 months of failure. He signed with Corinthians and was released a year later after treating playing like a part time job. He returned to soccer 2 years later with American 4th league team Miami United. He didn’t manage to play a game there. Now, Adriano is back in the neighborhood he grew up in living among gun ridden gangs forgetting the days of himself dominating Pro Evolution Soccer games everywhere. He now lives with deadly gangs like the Red Command, a real change from earning 80,000 a week playing football.
Adriano’s story is far sadder than Mutu’s considering what had occurred with his father and his deep ascend into alcoholism. It would have been great to see Adriano dominate defenses for this decade, but unfortunately he didn’t choose the right path after the death of his father. There’s really not much else to say for Adriano. It’s sad how things turned out for him. I could have seen Adriano as a top 10 Brazilian player of all time if he didn’t start drinking. He was amazing, few players had the physical skills that the Brazilian had. Adriano and Mutu’s stories are similar and different at the same time. Thanks for reading, and I will end you on this highlight video.
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Brazilian Big12 series, Episode 8/12: Corinthians
In this series I will present each of the 12 Brazilian teams that together compose the "Big 12". My point is to make them more knowledgeable to you, since each one of these teams have their share of the Brazil national team success and of Brazilian club football accomplishments as a whole. I'll try to be as smooth, efficient and non-boring as I can. If the feedback is positive, I'll keep bringing more to this series. So ok, let's do this!
Method: I'll present the teams in a chronological order, from the oldest foundation (Flamengo-1895) to the latest one (São Paulo-1930). The order will be: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Grêmio, Botafogo, Atlético Mineiro, Internacional, Corinthians, Santos, Palmeiras, Cruzeiro, São Paulo. How many of these have you heard of?
Extra clubs: Due to a high number of requests, I'll also present 3 teams who don't belong to the Big12, but are also considered big clubs in Brazil: Bahia, Athletico Paranaense and Coritiba. Welcome to the club!
Geographical reference: Before we start, I'd like to ask something very simple from you. I want you to keep in mind that these 12 teams are spread in 4 different States in Brazil. The club's State name is written below, next to the club's name. It has a direct link to Google Maps, so that you can check it out to make this experience more accurate.
Episode 8/12: Corinthians (State: São Paulo), founded in 1910
State rivals: Palmeiras, São Paulo, Santos
Stadium: Arena Corinthians / Pacaembu (Old)
Major achievements: 2 Club World Cup (2000, 2012), 1 Copa Libertadores (2012), 7 Brazilian Leagues (1990, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2011, 2015, 2017), 3 Copa do Brasil (1995, 2002, 2009)
State League titles: 30 (Against Palmeiras' 23, Santos' 22, São Paulo's 21)PLAY AND LISTEN TO CORINTHIANS ANTHEM WHILE READING - Click here
The kings of São Paulo and the team of the people (1910-1954)
Corinthians was founded in 1910 by a group of factory workers in São Paulo, inspired by Corinthian FC, an English team that was going on an excursion in Brazil. From the first moment of Corinthians foundation, their president stated that they would be the "team of the people, and that the people would make the team". It was a manifest against the aristocratic trend of only allowing rich and white people into football clubs.
In Brazilian football early days, there wasn't a national league until 1959, so the teams would play inside their own state, in the State Leagues. In this São Paulo State League Era, Corinthians rose from nothing to become the most victorious team inside the state, with 15 titles, notably leaving behind their rivals Palmeiras (12), São Paulo (8), Santos (4), and also traditional teams from the amateur era such as Paulistano (11). If there was a national league in this period, Corinthians would certainly be a serious title contender, along with Fluminense (from Rio de Janeiro state league) and their archrival, Palmeiras.
Highlights to Corinthians early-1950s decade, when they won 2 State Leagues (1951, 1952), 3 Rio-São Paulo Tournament (1950, 1953, 1954) and 1 Pequeña Copa del Mundo in Venezuela (1953).
|1950 Rio-São Paulo*||Corinthians||Vasco||Portuguesa|
|1951 São Paulo State League||Corinthians||Palmeiras||Portuguesa|
|1952 São Paulo State League||Corinthians||São Paulo||Portuguesa|
|1953 Rio-São Paulo*||Corinthians||Vasco||São Paulo|
|1953 Pequeña Copa del Mundo||Corinthians||Roma (Italy)||Barcelona (Spain)|
|1954 Rio-São Paulo||Corinthians||Fluminense||Palmeiras|
- The Rio-São Paulo Tournament was the most prestigious league in Brazil before the National Leagues. It allowed only the big teams from the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro: Corinthians, Palmeiras, São Paulo, Santos, Portuguesa (São Paulo), Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco, Botafogo, América, Bangu (Rio de Janeiro).
|1953 Pequeña Copa del Mundo||Corinthians 1-0 Roma (Italy)||Luizinho (1)|
|1953 Pequeña Copa del Mundo||Corinthians 3-2 Barcelona (Spain)||Luizinho (2), Kubala (1), Moreno (1), Carbone (1)|
|1953 Pequeña Copa del Mundo||Corinthians 2-1 Caracas (Venezuela)||Cláudio (1), Carbone (1), Aguirre (1)|
|1953 Pequeña Copa del Mundo||Corinthians 1-0 Barcelona (Spain)||Goiano (1)|
|1953 Pequeña Copa del Mundo||Corinthians 2-0 Caracas (Venezuela)||Cláudio (2)|
|1953 Pequeña Copa del Mundo||Corinthians 3-1 Roma (Italy)||Luizinho (2), Cláudio (1), Galle (1)|
1954-1977: the drought and the Rivellino Era
In this period, Corinthians went through their longest title drought of their history, without winning a single trophy. Technically, they won the 1966 Rio-São Paulo Tournament, but it had to be shared with 3 other teams due to a lack of dates to end it.
Between 1965 and 1974, Rivellino (born 1946), a creation of Corinthians youth system, was the team's main star. He played 474 matches for Corinthians, scoring 141 goals, and represented his club in the 1970 and 1974 World Cups. He never managed to win the then prestigious State League title, or even the National League, reaching the State League final just once, in 1974, losing to their archrival Palmeiras. He was "found guilty" of losing the final and was released from the club, sold to Fluminense. You can see some of Rivellino magical skills in this amazing skills-only video (3mn08s video).
In this difficult era, Corinthians also counted with legendary star Garrincha in 1966. However, his form was already declining at the age of 32, and he only appeared in 13 matches, scoring 2 goals.
Curiously enough, Pelé played professionaly from 1956 to 1977, almost the exact time Corinthians went trophyless. When Pelé began to shine in football, he used to say that he was rejected in a Corinthians trial in 1954, and therefore cursed that "while I (Pelé) play football, Corinthians will never be champions again". Pelé retired on the 1st of October 1977, and 12 days later, on the 13th October 1977, Corinthians 23-year title drought was over, as they won the 1977 São Paulo State League, 1-0 against Ponte Preta, with a goal from Basilio, at minute 81.
1976: The Corinthians Invasion
A year before Corinthians drought was over, one of the biggest events in the history of Brazilian football took place, the Invasão Corinthiana. The 5th of December 1976, a one-match-only Brazilian League semi-final would happen in Rio de Janeiro, between the home guests Fluminense (of Rivellino, who left Corinthians in 1974) and Corinthians, from São Paulo, 450km away from Rio.
The hype was intense. Fluminense were the frank favorites: 10 of their starting 11 had already been capped to the Brazil NT, they were called the Tricolor Machine.
The Maracanã 146.000 capacity would be split half-half. 70.000 tickets were given to Corinthians by Fluminense, and they were sold out in less than 3 hours. Tens of thousands of Corinthianos started moving from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro 2 days before the match: by airplane, bus, car, motorcycle, bike, taxi, it didn't matter, the Rio-São Paulo highway was dominated by Corinthians supporters (pic). On Saturday 4th, one day before the match, the city and the Copacabana beach of Rio de Janeiro became a huge Corinthianos party. Hundreds and hundreds of black and white flags and shirts all over the city.
On the day of the match, the atmosphere inside the Maracanã was INTENSE (5mn video). More than ever, Corinthians needed to end that title drought. Inexplicably, Corinthians fanbase had their biggest growth during the 60s/70s title drought. That's why they say that only the Corinthians supporters know what it's like to be a Corinthiano, that's why they nicknamed themselves "the Sufferers". Because they are the legitimate team of the people.
The match started under a moderate rain, and the pitch wasn't at its best. Fluminense opened the score at '29, with this goal from Pintinho. Corinthians needed at least a goal to go to extratime, and found it at '29 with Russo, after a corner kick. The rain intensified, and the pitch turned into this horrible mud. Not much happened afterwards, and the match went to the penalty kicks. Corinthians GK Tobias saved Fluminense's 1st and 2nd p.k., while Corinthians scored all their 3 penalties, and Fluminense only 1 out of 3. Zé Maria then scored Corinthians 4th penalty and qualified his team to the 1976 Brazilian League final.
However, Corinthians lost the final 0-2 to Falcão's Internacional, playing away. But the epic Invasão Corinthiana of Rio de Janeiro would be forever remembered in the Brazilian football history - this very good 46mn documentary comes back to 1976 and also shows the 2000 (Rio de Janeiro) and 2012 (Japan) Club World Cup posterior invasions.
1977: the State League title and the end of the drought
In 1977, Corinthians 23-year title drought finally came to an end, after they won the State League title. They played 48 matches, with 30W-6D-12L, cumulating 55% of the points. In the big final, they beat Ponte Preta 1-0, with Basílio scoring this eternal goal at '81.
It was Corinthians' 16th State League title, while their rivals had 18 (Palmeiras), 13 (Santos) and 11 (São Paulo) at that point. So, even without winning a State League title for 23 years, Corinthians was still fighting for São Paulo state title record.
1982-84: Socrates and the Corinthians Democracy
In the middle of the Brazilian military dictatorship, Corinthians chose to wave a flag in favor of democracy. It all began in April 1982, with the nomination of a sociologist, Adilson, to the football director job. Adilson liked to listen to the players, and along with politicized players such as Sócrates, Wladimir, Casagrande and Zenon, decided to establish an innovative democracy inside the club.
Basically, every decision (contracts, inside rules, etc) that was to be taken would be decided by voting. From the president to the average worker, all had the same right to vote, and the same vote weight. For example, thanks to this voting system, married players didn't need to sleep in hotels before matches with the rest of the team anymore. They would also use the Corinthians kit to spread political opinions in favor of democracy--such as the sayings "Diretas Já" ("Direct voting Now") and "Eu quero votar para presidente" ("I want to vote for president").
In April 1984, the Amendment Proposal For Direct Voting was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies, which collaborated to the departure of Sócrates to the Italian Serie A (Fiorentina), and to the end of the Corinthians Democracy. This talented generation won the São Paulo State Leagues of 1982 and 1983, and reached the 1982 and 1984 Brazilian League semi-finals.
This notable team provided the charming Brazil of 1982 (5mn46s video) with Sócrates, who played 265 matches for Corinthians, scoring 172 goals between 1978 and 1984.
1990: the first Brazilian League title
After winning the 1988 State League title, Corinthians won their first Brazilian League title in 1990. Led by midfielder Neto to the knock-out stages, Corinthians defeated Atlético Mineiro in the quarter-finals. In the 1st leg, they did a 2-1 comeback, with both goals from Neto: the first with a header and the second shooting from inside the box. In the 2nd leg, a 0-0 tie put Corinthians in the semi-final stage against Bahia.
In the 1st leg of the semis, Bahia opened the scored, but Corinthians tied with an own goal. Neto scored the 2nd goal with his trademark style, the free-kick. In the 2nd leg, a 0-0 tie was enough to put Corinthians in the final.
In the final, a derby between Corinthians and the São Paulo of Zetti, Cafu, Leonardo, Raí and the coach Telê Santana (former 1982 Brazil coach).
In the 1st leg, Wilson Mano scored the only goal of the match at '4. Fabinho (Corinthians) almost scored the 2nd after this brilliant run and conclusion, saved by Zetti, and Ronaldo (Corinthians GK), fantastic as always, kept Corinthians goal secured with great saves. In the final 2nd leg, Corinthians scored the only goal of the match at '54, after a great one-two between Fabinho and Tupãzinho, with the latter scoring the goal, and securing Corinthians first Brazilian League title.
Ronaldo (GK) and Marcelo Djian (CB) were both elected to the League's Best XI.
Corinthians kept the good shape and won 2 more State Leagues (1995, 1997) and 1 Copa do Brasil undefeated (1995), as well as 2nd place in the 1994 Brazilian League, with a new generation led by Viola and their eventual big idol, Marcelinho Carioca.
1998-2000: National legacy, champions of the World and the Copa Libertadores trauma
|Tournament||Champion||Runner-up||3rd place||4th place|
|1998 Brazilian League||Corinthians||Cruzeiro||Santos||Portuguesa|
|1999 State League||Corinthians||Palmeiras||Santos||São Paulo|
|1999 Brazilian League||Corinthians||Atlético Mineiro||Vitória||São Paulo|
|2000 Club World Cup||Corinthians||Vasco||Necaxa (Mexico)||Real Madrid (Spain)|
In this period, Corinthians won the 1998 and 1999 Brazilian Leagues, the 2000 Club World Cup and the 1999 São Paulo State League.
Luxemburgo (eventual Real Madrid coach) was the man behind the creation of this superteam. In the 1998 Brazilian League, Corinthians qualified to the knock-out stages with the best campaign. They first sent Grêmio home in the quarter-finals; and then Santos in the semi-finals, after three exciting matches (4mn51s video) and this fine and decisive goal by Edilson at '57 of the 3rd semi-final match.
In the big final against Cruzeiro, Corinthians started badly on the 1st match (away), losing 0-2 at half-time, but recovered greatly with two goals and left with a 2-2 tie. The 2nd leg, at home, was a 1-1 tie, with Corinthians opening the score and Cruzeiro equalizing later. In the 3rd final match, at home, Corinthians won by 2-0, with the first goal by Edilson at '70 and the second goal by Marcelinho Carioca at '80. For the 2nd time, Corinthians were crowned Brazilian champions. Gamarra and Vampeta were elected to the League's Best XI, while Edílson won the Golden Ball and Marcelinho Carioca was the team's topscorer with 19 goals in 28 matches. Their coach Luxemburgo left Corinthians to command the Brazil NT, appointing his auxiliary Oswaldo de Oliveira as the new coach.
Corinthians 1999 season was a hell of a rollercoaster. Qualified to the big dream, the Copa Libertadores, the team was the same as 1998, and had the arrival of Dida and Luizão.
In May 1999, Corinthians were knocked-off of the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals by their archrival Palmeiras, 2-4 on the penalties, after two evenly derbies (0-2, 2-0).
Weeks later, in June 1999, Corinthians and Palmeiras, again, disputed the final of the State League. Corinthians won the 1st derby 3-0. At minute 75 of the 2nd leg, with 2-2 in the score and Corinthians' title secured, Corinthians' winger Edílson performed the biggest provocation in the history of Brazilian football, by doing kick-ups with the ball, provoking this huge, epic and funny struggle. The match ended, and Corinthians were crowned State champions.
At the end of the season, Corinthians dominated the 1999 Brazilian League. In the K.O stage, they beat Guarani in the quarter-finals, and then their city rival São Paulo in the semis (3-2, 2-1), after Dida epically saved two penalties from São Paulo idol Raí (former PSG): the first on his left side at '52, and the second on his right side at '92. Corinthians then won the 2nd leg 2-1 and qualified to the finals.
They would face Atlético Mineiro, and lost the 1st leg (away) 2-3. At home in the 2nd leg, Corinthians beat them 2-0 with 2 goals from Luizão, the first at '28 from a header, and the second at '59 from inside the box. The 3rd leg was an electrifying 0-0 tie, and Corinthians were declared back-to-back Brazilian League champions.
Dida, Rincón and Vampeta were elected to the League's Best XI, Marcelinho Carioca won the Golden Ball, and Luizão was the team's topscorer with 21 goals in 25 matches.
The 2000 FIFA Club World Cup title
In 2000, took place in Brazil the first edition of the Club World Cup, and Corinthians qualified as Brazilian champions.
|Group A||Points||Goal difference|
|Real Madrid (Spain)||7||+3|
|Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia)||3||-3|
|Raja Casablanca (Morocco)||0||-4|
|Group B||Points||Goal difference|
|Manchester United (England)||4||0|
|South Melbourne (Australia)||0||-6|
This beautiful image is perfect to describe Karembeu's humiliating moment.
Corinthians would proceed to play against Vasco in the big final. 70.000 Corinthianos invaded Rio de Janeiro just like in 1976, expecting a great match against Vasco's dream team that had Romário, Edmundo and Juninho Pernambucano. After a 0-0 tie, it went to the penalties. Dida saved Gilberto's shot, and Marcelino Carioca only needed to score to end it, but he missed it. However, Edmundo lost Vasco's last penalty, and Corinthians were crowned Club World champions.
However, later that year, Corinthians met their archrivals Palmeiras once again in the Copa Libertadores, now in the semi-finals. After two crazy evenly derbies (4-3, 2-3), it went to the penalties, just like in 1999. And Marcelinho lost his one, getting Corinthians out of the tournament, and beginning a huge frustration and trauma of the Corinthianos for not having a continental title, while all their state rivals (Palmeiras, São Paulo and Santos) had.
2001-2010: Carlitos Tévez, the 2007 relegation, Ronaldo Nazário's last dance, and the Copa Libertadores trauma
The 2000s was a crazy decade for Corinthians.
They won 3 State League titles (2001, 2003, 2009), 1 Brazilian League (2005), 2 Copa do Brasil (2002, 2009) and 1 Rio-São Paulo (2002). But they were also relegated to the Brazilian League Serie B in 2007.
Highlights to their Galáticos 2005 team, led by Argentine stars Tévez and Mascherano, as well as Carlos Alberto (former Porto) and Nilmar (eventual Villareal), who together won the 2005 Brazilian League.
After their relegation to Serie B in 2007, the club rebuilt greatly under the president Andrés Sanchez.
He brought the legend Ronaldo Nazário in 2009, who led Corinthians to the 2009 State League title against Neymar's Santos and to the 2009 Copa do Brasil title against Internacional. Ronaldo scored 35 goals in 69 matches, with great highlights, notably this last-minute goal on his 1st match in a derby against Palmeiras and also this goal against Santos in the 2009 State League final. He was joined by left-back Roberto Carlos in 2010, before retiring in 2011.
But the Copa Libertadores trauma was still alive. The 30 million Corinthianos couldn't live with the jokes and suffering for not having a continental title.
|1977 Copa Libertadores||Group Stage||Internacional|
|1991 Copa Libertadores||Round of 16||Boca Juniors (Argentina)|
|1996 Copa Libertadores||Quarter-finals||Grêmio|
|1999 Copa Libertadores||Quarter-finals||Palmeiras|
|2000 Copa Libertadores||Semi-finals||Palmeiras|
|2003 Copa Libertadores||Round of 16||River Plate (Argentina)|
|2006 Copa Libertadores||Round of 16||River Plate (Argentina)|
|2010 Copa Libertadores||Round of 16||Flamengo|
|2011 Copa Libertadores||Preliminary Round||Tolima (Colombia)|
Corinthians 2011-2012: National, Continental and World champions, the dream came true
The coach Tite almost lost his job after the ridiculous defeat to Tolima. But he stayed and focused on the 2011 Brazilian League.
Corinthians dominated the league, leading it for 27 rounds (out of 38). On the last round, they tied 0-0 against Palmeiras and secured their 5th Brazilian League title. However, sadly on this same day, the old idol Sócrates passed away, at the age of 57.
Corinthians had thus qualified to the 2012 Copa Libertadores, which they would brilliantly win undefeated (8W-6D), as well as their 2nd FIFA Club World Cup title.
|2012 Libertadores||GS||1-1 Táchira (VEN)||Ralf|
|2012 Libertadores||GS||2-0 Nacional (PAR)||Danilo, Jorge Henrique|
|2012 Libertadores||GS||0-0 Cruz Azul (MEX)||-|
|2012 Libertadores||GS||1-0 Cruz Azul (MEX)||Danilo|
|2012 Libertadores||GS||3-1 Nacional (PAR)||Jorge Henrique, Sheik, Elton|
|2012 Libertadores||GS||6-0 Táchira (VEN)||Danilo, Paulinho, Jorge Henrique, Sheik, Liédson, Douglas|
|2012 Libertadores||Ro16||0-0 Emelec (ECU)||-|
|2012 Libertadores||Ro16||3-0 Emelec (ECU)||Fábio Santos, Paulinho, Alex|
|2012 Libertadores||QF||0-0 Vasco||-|
|2012 Libertadores||QF||1-0 Vasco||Paulinho|
|2012 Libertadores||SF||1-0 Santos||Sheik|
|2012 Libertadores||SF||1-1 Santos||Danilo|
|2012 Libertadores||Final||1-1 Boca Juniors (ARG)||Romarinho|
|2012 Libertadores||Final||2-0 Boca Juniors (ARG)||Sheik (2x)|
|2012 Club World Cup||SF||1-0 Al-Ahly (EGY)||Guerrero|
|2012 Club World Cup||Final||1-0 Chelsea (ENG)||Guerrero|
In the quarter-finals, the adversary was the Brazilian team, Vasco. The 1st leg was in Rio de Janeiro, a 0-0 tie, with this only big chance in Corinthians' favor. In the 2nd leg, Corinthians were pressing Vasco a lot, until the minute 62, when Vasco forward Diego Souza threw this incredible opportunity away. Had he scored, Corinthians would need 2 goals in 30 minutes. Corinthians kept pressing, until Paulinho scored the winning goal at '87.
In the semi-finals, the current Copa Libertadores champions, Santos, with Neymar, Ganso, Elano & co., would be a tough opponent. But, playing away, Corinthians' Sheik opened the score at '27 with this nice goal. Cássio made this good defense at '57, and this other one at '80. In the 2nd leg, Neymar opened the score for Santos at '35, but Danilo scored for Corinthians at '47, as the match ended 1-1, with Corinthians qualified to their 1st Copa Libertadores final.
In the big final against Riquelme's Boca Juniors (Argentina), who were chasing their 7th title, Corinthians would play the first match in Argentina. Boca opened the score at '72, but Romarinho equalized at '84, after Paulinho took the ball from Riquelme. Boca still had time to hit the post at '90. In the 2nd leg in São Paulo, Sheik opened the score at '53 and scored the 2nd at '71, after a juvenile mistake by Boca. At '92 the match was over, and Corinthians were crowned Copa Libertadores champions for the first time, and undefeated.
2012 Club World Cup - Corinthians 1-0 Chelsea
After beating Al-Ahly (Egypt) 1-0 in the semis, with this goal from Paolo Guerrero, Corinthians was ready to face Chelsea, the European champions, in the final. 30.000 Corinthianos invaded Japan for this unique moment.
Cássio (GK) saved Corinthians at least 4 times, notably with this one. But at '68, after a confusion inside the box, Paolo Guerrero scored the only goal of the match. At '84, Fernando Torres lost this 1on1 opportunity, brilliantly saved by Cássio. At '94, the match ended, and Corinthians were crowned Club World champions for the 2nd time in their history.
|Corinthians - 1||Chelsea - 0|
|12. Cássio||1. Cech|
|2. Alessandro||2. Ivanovic (Azpilicueta)|
|3. Chicão||4. David Luiz|
|13. Paulo André||24. Cahill|
|6. Fábio Santos||3. A. Cole|
|5. Ralf||8. Lampard|
|8. Paulinho||7. Ramires|
|11. Sheik (Wallace)||13. Moses (Oscar)|
|23. J. Henrique||17. Hazard (Marin)|
|20. Danilo||10. Juan Mata|
|9. Paolo Guerrero (Martinez)||9. Torres|
After these brilliant days, Corinthians remained on the top tier of Brazilian and South American football. They completed an International Treble in 2013 after winning the 2013 Recopa Sudamericana, won two more notable Brasileirão titles (2015, 2017), and also four more state leagues (2013, 2017, 2018, 2019). Their new arena was also concluded, in 2014.
Aqui é Corinthians!!! (This is Corinthians!!!)
To this day, Corinthians has a fanbase of 30 million supporters, and a stadium attendance average of 33.000, as of 2019.
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