In a scenario oft repeated in Brazil’s Group F clash with Australia on 23 June, Adryan picked up the ball out on the left flank, where he is at his most dangerous, before driving at the opposing full-back. The ball close to his feet, swerving one way then another, a change of pace left the defender behind and the gifted forward was heading straight for goal.
“His level of technical ability is incredibly high,” says A Seleção boss Emerson Avila on a key weapon in Brazil’s armoury here at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011. “It’s really eye-catching the way that while he’s not actually that fast, he’s really quick with the ball at his feet. Aside from being fantastically skilful, he’s also a very good finisher.”
That said, for all his attempts to use his mazy dribbling against the Australians, Adryan invariably found himself dispossessed – a pattern that has dogged the Flamengo starlet in both his appearances so far. Yet while he has found it tough to elude his markers here at Mexico 2011, the youngster was still able to conjure up his country’s winning goal against the Joeys, clipping home a superb 76th-minute free kick to clinch a 1-0 group success.
“I’ve been really working on my set pieces,” he tells FIFA.com. “I managed to get to a bouncing ball first on the edge of the area and shield the ball with my body. When the Australian player grabbed me I thought ‘now’s my chance’, and when the foul was given I immediately grabbed the ball. I was so happy when it went in. I’ve been taking free kicks since I was little, I just concentrate hard and try to do my best.”
Making dad proud
Looking on with particular pride back home is the player’s father Toninho, who closely follows everything his son does, be it in training with the Flamengo first-team squad or over on Mexican soil. “We speak every day, morning, afternoon and night – before training, after training,” said Adryan, when leaving the Estadio Guadalajara after Thursday’s game. “I’m going to call him right now, in fact, and I’m sure he’ll be really happy.”
When I set off for Mexico, he told me to do my club Flamengo proud and also not to forget that I won’t be alone at any point.
As Adryan reveals, these regular conversations with his father prove vital to his well-being as a person and his progress as a player. “He’s really helpful, he always asks me how I’m doing mentally or how I’m feeling physically. He’s a great dad,” he says, before outlining another aspect of Toninho’s input.
“He also tells me what the TV experts say about me, about where I can improve, given that they’ve got a more global view of the match. Normally when you’re out on the pitch you don’t get the same perspective as someone looking on from a distance. He’s like a coach as well as a dad.”
However, despite his obvious passion for his son’s career, Toninho does know where to draw the line. “When I set off for Mexico, he told me to do my club Flamengo proud and also not to forget that I won’t be alone at any point. He told me to remember that I’m here with all the rest of the team, as well as the coaching staff.”
Rubro-negra rising star
In the eyes of Brazil boss Avila, Adryan’s club Flamengo need have no worries about the performance of their young prodigy. A club with a long tradition of producing home-grown stars, Os Rubro-negros have struggled to unearth attacking talent since launching Adriano onto the scene in the late 1990s. “I’m certain that he’s a player that can really thrive in the Flamengo first team,” says experienced youth coach Avila on his No10. “I also think he’ll move up the national-team ranks too.”
For the time being, though, Adryan and Co must focus on Mexico 2011 and specifically Sunday’s Group F meeting with Côte d’Ivoire. Having already qualified for the Round of 16, a point against the Ivorians would guarantee top spot in the section.
“My goal (against Australia) was a big help in getting us through to the next round but, like I said to the other players, that’s in the past now – we’ve got to move on to the next game. We need to be fully focused on the second round to stay in the title hunt,” said the attacker, as the conversation concluded. “We shouldn’t need to know our opponents’ names, we don’t need to know if they’re good or bad. Brazil should always approach games the same way.”