Some belters from the Brazilian and international media here, with almost
any glimpse of talent meaning this label is often slapped on a youngster.
In many cases they've been right, but in some they were wide of the mark.
1982 Walter Casagrande
Striker who first came to prominence as an 18 year old back in 1982. A phenomenal
Corinthians ended with 28 goals in the Campeonato Paulista. Played 3 times for Brazil
in the 1986 World Cup before his first transfer abroad, to Porto. Didn't particularly
shine in Europe and returned to Brazil in 1993.
The baby-faced striker started out with local club Esporte Clube Vitoria but within a
matter of months he'd been snapped up by Rio giants Flamengo. His goal-scoring feats
soon had the Brazilian
football media raving, and he made his national team debut just a year later. However,
despite great scoring records with Flamengo, and later Rio rivals Vasco da Gama, it
wasn't until a move to Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna, and then the 1994 World Cup,
that the rest of the World real stood up and noticed him.
It might have been the eye-catching name that
attracted all the early attention, but Muller certainly didn't live up to all the hype.
His final national team record of 20 goals in 56 games certainly looks impressive
for a left-sided attacker but he always seemed to fall short when faced with real
top quality opposition. First started grabbing the media's eye as an 18 year old at
Sao Paulo and gained his first Brazilian Cap aged in 1986.
First touted as a potential superstar back in 195 whilst playing for Vasco da Gama,
Romario was one of the first wave of young Brazilians that top European side decided
to take a gamble. Top Dutch scout Piet de Visser was instrumental in persuading
PSV Eindhoven to take him on, and the rest is history. An incredible 98 goals
in just over 100 games for PSV sealed a switch to Barcelona, where he achieved
another near goal-per-game ratio. He also helped Brazil to the 1994 World Cup.
His highpoint (and possibly the tournaments) was an impressive cameo appearance in
the 1994 World Cup final against Italy, when, with just 10 minutes of extra-time
to go, he came on showed us more skill than we'd witnessed in the previously dreadful
110 minutes. It wasn't a surprise to the watching Brazilians... they'd known about
his fantastic ability since he'd started out with Corinthians, but problems
on and off the pitch had stagnated his career. The hope was that after picking
up a World Cup winners medal he'd go on to fulfil his great promise. They were
wrong. A move to Spain didn't work out and he returned to yet more problems in
Brazil - having to be taken away by 3 riot police as he chased a referee and then
delaying a match for 25 minutes after he punched a touchline radio reporter in mid-game!
The talent was still there though - he finished as top scorer in the 1998 Brazilian Championship
whilst at Santos.
Hit the Brazilian headlines back in 1989 when he finished as Brazilian Championship top
scorer with home club Goias. Rather than biding his time for a move to Europe he went
almost immediately, choosing Swiss club Sion rather than waiting for the big boys to make
a move. He was back in Brazil though within a couple of years and re-discovered his
form, finishing top scorer in the Brazilian champs again in 1994 and 1995 with Botafogo.
Known for his creativity as much as his goal-scoring, he notched an impressive 13 goals
in just 15 games for the national team, and was still playing in the lower reaches of
the Brazilian league as he approached 40.
A 'wonder-kid' from an early age starring with local Rio side
Sao Cristovao, Ronaldo was snapped up by Cruzeiro as soon as he could
sign professionally. From then on his career path followed that of
Romario - moves to PSV and Barca with goals galore on the way. Further
transfers, yet more goals, World Cup medals and illnesses, have all
Opinion remains divided on whether Denilson made a decent success of
his career given his talent, but although you cant really argue with a World Cup winners
medal, you always feel like this outrageously gifted left winger could have achieved
even more. He first came to the fore as a teenager with Sao Paulo, then as a 20 year old
he produced a head-turning performance at the 1997 Copa America. The sight of his famous
step-over (mostly done on the spot, rather than when running) baffled many a defender and
was enough to persuade Real Betis to break the world record and hand over just short of
£22m for him. He seemed to struggle with the burden and expectation for a long time,
although his best form came around 2002, his 2nd half substitute appearances in the World
Cup a real treat all but the right-backs.
Word of Ronaldinho's talent soon spread through supporters of
Brazilian side Gremio after his dazzling performances for the club's
youth team. Some eye-catching performances at the 1997 U17 World
Championships had the Gremio fans shouting for a full-team debut.
By 2001, aged only 21, it was obvious that the club could no longer
hold on to him, but everyone was surprised when he ignored the advances
of Europe's largest clubs to sign for PSG. A couple of seasons there
and one World Cup winners medal later and he was heading down a road that
had proven so popular with other great Brazilians - the road to Barca.
Kaka was well known in the Brazilian football community for his dynamic displays with
Sao Paulo's youth team before a fractured spine looked to have ended his career before it
had even started. However, he was thrust into the limelight when he made an extraordinary
recovery and came back better than ever, breaking into the full team and scoring almost a
goal every other game as an attacking midfielder. In 2003, Milan paid just short of
£4.5m for him, which after success in Serie A and Europe now looks a bargain.
Grew up in the Santos youth team with Robinho and made his full-team
debut aged only 16. Linked heavily with a move to Spurs in 2003 but
ended up taking the more traditional transfer for a young Brazilian
to a Portuguese side, Porto. A disastrous spell looked like it
would result in him heading back to Brazil, but an inspired
transfer from Werder Bremen has got the little playmaker back on
Pedala, lollipops, stepovers. Call them what you like, but since the
age of about 3 we bet Robinho's been doing them. One of those kids
who would score about 20 goals a game for the local team, he was labelled
a wonder kid from the moment he was snapped up by Santos.
Has shown glimpses of his undoubted quality since his
move to Real Madrid in 2005 but needs to do it more consistently.
You can keep you lollipops and stepovers, Kerlon beats them all with 'the seal dribble'
(flicking the ball up then running through heading it!). Named player of the tournament
at the 2005 South American U17 Champs, he has constantly been linked with big money
moves to Europe. However, his success at youth-level has not yet translated to
the full Cruzeiro team, and he has struggled to find the net regularly.
2006 Alexandre Pato
Nicknamed 'the Duck', he's also been tagged both the 'new Ronaldo' and the 'new Ronaldinho'.
He grabbed the headlines in December 2006 as a 17 year old for Internacional, scoring in
the FIFA Club World Cup semi final and then playing in the final victory against Barcelona.
After helping Brazil win the 2007 S.American U20 Champs all the usual
suspects from Europe were clambering for his signature and in summer 2007 he signed for