Adriano reveals he fell out of love with football after dad's death saw him spiral into depression and hit the bottle

BRAZIL legend Adriano has heartbreakingly revealed that his father's tragic death was the reason he fell out of love with football.

The former Inter Milan striker, 39, was once touted as the heir to Ronaldo before battles with alcohol and depression saw his career decline.

At his peak, 'The Emperor' scored seven on the way to winning the Golden Boot during his country's Copa America triumph in 2004.

But just nine days later Adriano's father Almir Leite Ribeiro passed away and the forward has admitted the news sent his career spiralling.

He wrote in The Players’ Tribune: “After that day, my love for football was never the same. He loved the game, so I loved the game. It was that simple.

“It was my destiny. When I played football, I played for my family. When I scored, I scored for my family. So when my father died, football was never the same.

“I was across the ocean in Italy, away from my family, and I just couldn’t cope with it.

I have a hole in my ankle, and one in my soul

“I got so depressed, man. I started drinking a lot. I didn’t really want to train. It had nothing to do with Inter. I just wanted to go home.

“To be honest with you, even though I scored a lot of goals in Serie A over those few years, and even though the fans really loved me, my joy was gone. It was my dad, you know? I couldn’t just flip a switch and feel like myself again. Not all injuries are physical, you understand?

“When I popped my Achilles in 2011? Man, I knew that’s when it was over for me, physically.

“You can get surgery and rehabilitate it and try to carry on, but you will never be the same. My explosiveness was gone. My balance was gone. S***, I still walk with a limp. I still have a hole in my ankle.

“It was the same thing when my father died. Except the scar was inside me. ‘Man, what happened to Adriano?’ Brother, it’s simple. I have a hole in my ankle, and one in my soul.”

Adriano – who retired in 2016 – revealed Inter had to pretend he was injured to cover up his drinking following the death of his father.

But behind the scenes, the ex-Brazil international admitted his off-field demons caused plenty of rows with then-manager Jose Mourinho.

He added: “In 2008, it was the time of Mourinho at Inter, and everything was just too much.

“The press were following me everywhere, and everything with Mourinho was, ‘F***ing hell! F***ing s***! You’re going to f*** me, aren’t you, boy?’

“I said, ‘Oh Lord. Get me out of here.’ I just couldn’t cope. I got called for the national team, and before I left Mourinho said, ‘You’re not coming back, are you?’ I said, ‘You already know it!’

“One-way ticket, brother.”

In 2008, it was the time of Mourinho at Inter, and everything was just too much

Adriano ultimately won four Serie A titles with Inter – and these accomplishments are especially dear to him.

In fact, when he recently flogged his £1.2million mansion, moving to a luxury £10,000-a-month hotel room, he only took his medals with him.

Adriano was also beloved for the three different spells he had with Flamengo – who play at the Maracana.

He even recently broke down in tears following the announcement that he had been inducted into the Maracana Stadium Walk of Fame.

And in the honest piece published in The Tribune, Adriano lifted the lid on the party culture at Flamengo on his return to Brazil.

He said: “I was broken from my father’s death. I wanted to feel like myself again. I wasn’t on drugs. Was I drinking? Yes, of course. Hell yes, I was. Cheers to you, brother.

“Listen, if you test my piss — hand to God — you’re not going to find any drugs in my system. The day that I do drugs is the day that my mom and nan will die.

“But you know what? You will definitely find some booze. That p*** cup is probably going to turn cloudy like a caipirinha!

“When I came home to Rio to play for Flamengo, I did not want to be The Emperor anymore. I wanted to be Adriano. I wanted to have fun again. And brother, we had some fun.

“I will tell you the truth about that Flamengo team. Sometimes we showed up to training not for the football, but just for the drinks afterward.

“As soon as we were dismissed from training — poom! — party time. Straight to the Mercado Produtor. All the wives knew the deal! ‘We’ll be home at midnight!’ Hahahaha!

“The next day at training, someone would really be suffering, and another guy would say, ‘It’s O.K., brother. I see that you’re f*****. I’ll run for you! I got you!!!’”

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