Pato reveals what went wrong at Milan and in his career in emotional interview: “I paid dearly”

By Oliver Fisher -

Alexandre Pato has penned an emotional letter recalling what went wrong for him at AC Milan and why his career was plagued with so many injuries.

When Pato arrived at Milan from Sao Paulo he burst onto the scene with a number of electric performances that made his potential clear for all to see. There was even talk of him potentially becoming the best player in the world, but the general feeling is that the Brazilian never quite reached his potential having suffered badly with injury problems.

Now, he has spoken to The Players Tribune about the various stages of his career, from the peak to the decline, the choices he made and the lengths that he went to in order to try and stay fit for longer.

“I know what you are thinking. I have heard it for 10 years. ‘What happened to Pato?’, ‘Why didn’t Pato win the Ballon d’Or?’, ‘Why was Pato always injured?’ Mah. I should have answered these questions some time ago,” he began.

“There were a lot of voices, especially in Milan. I was partying too much. I did not want to. I lived in the world of fairy tales. When I wanted to speak I was told to “think about football”. I was too young to argue. Really, I was just a kid.

“So I think it’s time to do some clarity. I’m 32 now. I am happy and fit. I don’t resent anything or anyone. If you want to believe the rumours, I’m not here to change your mind. But if you want to know what really happened then listen.

“The first thing you need to understand is that I left home very early. Maybe too soon.When you are 11 you are not ready for the world. You set out to pursue this dream but you are alone and getting lost along the way is really easy. God gave me a gift, that’s clear.

“Until I was 10 I had never even played on a regular pitch, because five-a-side football was more fun. I still had a scholarship to a private school. One day I played in this school tournament and an Internacional scout asked my father: ‘Lord, have you ever thought about letting his son try 11-a-side football?’.

“Then I broke my arm and they put me in a cast quickly. The doctor X-rayed me and found a large tumour. He said, ‘He has to be operated on right away or we’ll have to amputate him’. I was shocked. I was 24 hours away from losing my left arm. But do you think my parents could afford the operation? Pfffffffft.

“My father made do again. He usually he filmed my games. So he took the tapes to the hospital, prayed, went to the doctor’s office and put some grainy footage of this smiling boy running around a five-a-side football field.

“He said, ‘Doctor this is my son. I don’t know how to pay for it, but I don’t want to see him stop playing’. I don’t know what happened after that. Maybe the doctor thought I was good. Perhaps he listened to God’s voice. ‘Don’t worry, I will operate your son for free’.

“I could have gone to Barcelona, ​​Ajax, Real Madrid. Why Milan? Well, let me ask you a question. Have you ever played with that Milan on PlayStation? They were incredible! Kaká, Seedorf, Pirlo, Maldini, Nesta, Gattuso, Shevchenko… Sheva was unstoppable!

“The Phenomenon, the REAL Ronaldo. I could have played with him. What a team. They had just won the Champions League. Milan in those days was the team. I thought, When is the next flight?

“Ancelotti after the visits took me to the dining room. ‘This is Pato, our new forward’. They all stood up to shake my hand. One by one. Ronaldo, Kaka, Seedorf. WOW. That was my first day. at Milan. The video game had become reality.”

Pato also spoke about his relationship with Silvio Berlusconi, who was the owner of Milan at the time and pushed for his arrival.

“Clearly we all knew who the owner of the club was. One day Silvio Berlusconi calls me. He was a great President, he always told jokes. I went out with his daughter Barbara. I dribbled a lot on the wing, oplàààà, overtook anyone.

“Silvio told me: ‘Why do you dribble towards the outside?’ He wanted me to play more in the centre. Soon Carlo and Leonardo started telling me the same. That’s how I scored that goal at Camp Nou. I was in the centre, I saw a space and I ran into it. When Valdés came out I thought, f***, what do I do? Dribble? Lob? I tried to kick to his left, but the ball landed between his legs. Wow. Luck is blind.

“In those days I thought I would really get to the top. The expectations were very high. The certain thing was that I was the super talent. I was already playing for Brazil. The press writes about you, the fans talk about you and the other players too. They excite you.

“I loved attention. I wanted people to talk about me. But you know what happened? I started dreaming too much. Even though I kept working hard, my fantasy took me to all kinds of places. In my head I already had the Ballon d’Or in my hand. I couldn’t help it. It’s really hard not to be overwhelmed. I had suffered so much to get there. So why not enjoy it?”

On his injuries: “I felt so alone. So when I was in trouble at Milan, I had no idea what to do. Today every player has a team that follows him right?! Doctor, physiotherapist, trainer. At the time only Ronaldo had one.

“When the press wrote lies about me, I didn’t have a PR person. I should have clarified things, but I never understood the importance of communicating well and building relationships. I was told that the results on the pitch were the only count. This just isn’t true.

“Did I go to a lot of parties? Not as much as you were led to believe. I didn’t feel like running? They said it because of my way of running. But come on. Who really knows? God made me like that. I can’t change it. They wanted to see me slide. They wanted blood, sweat and tears. They had tears. I paid dearly.

“I should have told everyone the truth. Do you remember the history of PSG? Galliani was in England to sign Tevez and PSG made me an incredible offer. I wanted to go – Ancelotti was there – but Silvio told me to stay. I was injured, so the fans thought, ‘Ooooh Pato didn’t want to leave! With Tevez we would have won!’

“The press had also gone mad. I was thinking, what? I wanted to go! I missed the 2010 World Cup. The PSG story came out in January 2012. I was practically not playing. Mentally I was destroyed. I was the big flop, the guy with a lot of money, the one that even the fans wanted to give away.

“You know how much I fought to try to get back? I have traveled the world. I’ve seen every doctor worth seeing – and even a few more. A doctor in Atlanta put me upside down while he turned me around. Diagnosis? My reflexes weren’t aligned with my muscles.

“A doctor in Germany injected liquid all over my back – the next day I was walking around Munich airport hunched over in pain. A doctor put 20 needles on me every morning and every evening. I could go on indefinitely.

“I was seeing doctor number 6, 7, 8,… each of them was saying a different thing. I thought, Man, what do I have? I cried, cried and cried again. I was afraid that I would no longer be able to play football.

“Could my career have gone differently? Sure. But it’s easy to look back and say what I should have done. When you are there you can’t see certain things.So no regrets. I look on the bright side. I’m in good shape. Mentally I’m great. I still love football.

“Why I should be angry? We only have one life in this world. I still believe I can go to the World Cup. Look at people like Thiago Silva and Dani Alves. They still play at 37 and 39. But these things happen when God wills. I only live in the present. He decides the rest.

“I will not have become the best player in the world. But let me tell you a few things. I have a wonderful relationship with my family. I am at peace with myself. I have a wife that I love. The way I see it, I have a lot of Ballon d’Ors. If life is a game, I have won.”

Tags AC Milan Alexandre Pato


  1. What a gift it was to watch him play with the smile on his face and the excitement that only Leao has brought to this team since. He was brutally destroyed by the media and his relationship with Berlusconi was probably a magnification for what went wrong with his time at AC Milan because of how heavily it was scrutinized. I’d love to see him back playing with AC Milan even as a substitute or option during Copa Italia.

    Bring back the Duck!

  2. One of the best striker Milan ever had. But sometimes fate is cruel 😢

    Looking at Pato reminds me of what happened to Van Basten & Ronaldo. It’s just sad that these great strikers got injured badly and forced to retired when their career at its peak 😢

  3. Although previously Kaka and Ronaldo had complained, but in the case of Pato with an injury that didn’t heal and he had to go to Brazil to change places for treatment, that’s where I started to understand that there was something wrong with Milan Lab. And Barbara too…

  4. I thought he will be on par with Messi and Cristiano. He had bad luck with injuries but he also didn’t live the most disciplined professional life. He can say media lied , but how come we never heard lies about the zlatan, Cristiano and messi. Because they didn’t party like he did. But we used to hear about Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and neymar partying and they were true, that’s why those guys had short careers.
    Wish him all the best, hope he is happy but he will always be the Milan player that was the biggest regret

  5. I still cry for this guy till this day.
    He’s as old as my biggest brother and as a youngster I couldn’t believe such a young boy could stand out among the best in the world and stand toe to toe, shoulder to shoulder with legends.
    He did it with such fearlessness and swagger.
    I’ll forever defend this boy despite his ‘shortcomings’. For the times he was fit and running, none could stop him.
    Top 5 favorite player ever for Milan.
    Forza Pato#7
    Forza Milan

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