Association, position, prodigy and genius condemned the teenage Robinho to the burdensome tag of ‘The New Pele'. And although the Sao Vicente native's style is mightily similar to that of O Rei, he has become a superstar in his own right.
Robinho exploded onto the scene in 2002. With his speed and, principally, his magical dribbling skills, he inspired Santos to the Campeonato Brasileiro prize. He was just 18. The dashing, deep-lying forward went on to propel O Peixe to another league title in 2004, and the final of the Copa Libertadores one year earlier, before a big-money move to Real Madrid.
Robinho made a superb debut for Los Merengues, but his form was somewhat erratic during a first season at the club which included a La Liga winner's medal. However, in his second season Robinho became a player of huge influence, creating and scoring goals consistently and wowing audiences with his productive tricks. Real again won La Liga.
On the final ay of the transfer window in September 2008, Robinho completed a 42.5-million-euro transfer to Manchester City. He scored a brilliant free-kick on his debut, in a defeat by Chelsea, and quickly began to showcase the talent that had established him as one of the world's best players. In his first season with City, he was one of the leading marksmen and set-up men in the Premier League. Again, however, the Brazilian ace put in a few shaky performances, which along with persistent injuries, harmed his status and eventually led City to agree a six-month loan deal that brought Robinho back to his beloved Santos. Here he swiftly became the focal point of a young and talented generation of attacking players.
Able to play up front or in behind the forwards, Robinho - who made his international debut in 2003 and helped Brazil win the FIFA Confederations Cup two years later - was a valuable squad member under Carlos Alberto Parreira. However, he was invariably utilised as a substitute.
After limited playing time at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, Robinho was then made an automatic starter by new coach Dunga. He responded emphatically, becoming the heartbeat of the Brazil side and heroically guiding them to Copa America 2007 glory. He finished the competition as top scorer.
Robinho has taken this form into South Africa 2010 qualifying and the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. While many of his celebrated compatriots have been below-par, the Santos revelation has been at his inventive best and is an indispensable figure for A Seleção.