Luiz Adriano - All you need to know about the Shakhtar Donetsk striker
Shakhtar Donetsk's Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano became the second player in history after Lionel Messi to score five goals in a single Champions League game, achieving the feat in the 7-0 away win at BATE Borisov of Belarus in October. As he leads the scoring charts in the tournament ahead of the Argentinian wizard and prepares to take on Bayern Munich in the knockout stages, here's all you need to know about the 27-year-old.
Romario and Ronaldo were his idols
Adriano was born in Porto Alegre to a family of Internacional fans. As such, he had no choice but to support Inter and could never imagine himself wearing a Gremio shirt. Both of his role models, though, came from Rio de Janeiro. Romario and Ronaldo, the great heroes with such different styles, were the ones whom Adriano strived to emulate when playing football in his grandmother's backyard.
He chose football over music
Adriano's second passion is music and at a certain stage he had to choose between pursuing professional football career and continuing to play in his rock band. He preferred the former, but never misses an opportunity to sing and once even performed the Shakhtar anthem in Portuguese with his Brazilian teammates.
He won the Club World Cup as a 19-year-old
Adriano was lucky to start his career at Internacional right after they won Copa Libertadores, and thus took part in FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December 2006, alongside his good friend Alexandre Pato. He scored his only goal for Inter in the semifinal against Al Ahly of Egypt, and played as a substitute in a 1-0 win over Frank Rijkaard's Barcelona in the final.
He cost Shakhtar just 3 million euros
The Ukrainian giants have amazingly effective business relations in Southern Brazil and their scouting there is second to none. Manchester City's Fernandinho, for example, was spotted at Atletico Paranaense as a 20-year-old and spent eight seasons at Shakhtar. Mircea Lucescu's club signed Adriano in March 2007 for a bargain price before anyone else even thought about him.
His start in Ukraine was very slow
The Brazilian had an extremely tough time in the beginning of his career in Eastern Europe. He had trouble with the new mentality and severe winters. Even more importantly, he disliked the new position on the pitch. The veteran Romanian coach insisted that Adriano played as a lone striker, whereas he was used to closer to midfield at Internacional. "Lucescu taught me to play up front," the striker remarked later on in his career. In his first two full seasons at Shakhtar, he scored just eight league goals.
He considers the goal in UEFA Cup final the most important
Shakhtar fans started to appreciate Adriano's contribution only in spring 2009, when he scored extremely important goals against CSKA Moscow and Marseille en route to the last ever UEFA Cup final. There, versus Werder Bremen in Istanbul, he scored the opening goal and played an important part in leading the team to their first European triumph in history, even though he wasn't on the pitch when fellow Brazilian Jadson netted the winner in extra time to make it 2-1. "This was the most important game in my career," Adriano said.
He was frequently criticised
Despite contributing more goals since that breakthrough, he has been constantly criticised in Ukrainian press for not being effective. He tends to go missing in numerous games and his passing leaves a lot to be desired. Compared to his compatriots in Shakhtar squad, Adriano has long been considered as one of the less skillful.
He was banned for scoring a goal
In the Champions League match at Nordsjaelland in November 2012, Shakhtar attempted to return the ball to opponents following a break for injury, only for the Brazilian to ignore the unwritten rules of fair play and put it into the net. The Danes, who lost 5-2, were understandably furious at such behaviour, and the outcry eventually made UEFA to somewhat controversially suspend the Brazilian for one match for "violation of the principles of conduct." The club and Lucescu apologised and so did the striker himself. "I didn't see what happened before getting the ball, and only wanted to score. Later, after watching the incident on video, I changed my mind about it. I am sorry, and promise that such behaviour will never be repeated. I will pay more attention," he said.
He only made his debut for Brazil in November
Having had his best personal season in 2013-14, crowned the top scorer in Ukrainian league for the first time with 20 goals in 25 games, Adriano hoped to be included in the World Cup squad that played on home soil but was totally ignored by Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. That is understandable given his inexperience, but one might claim that Adriano couldn't possibly do worse than Fred and Jo, the two strikers that were disappointing in the extreme during the tournament. Finally, new Selecao coach Dunga called him up and he made his debut in a 4-0 win over Turkey, just three weeks after scoring those five goals against BATE.
He is the top scorer in Shakhtar history
In the remarkable game in Belarus, Adriano also became the most potent striker ever for Shakhtar. His record now stands at 122 goals in 253 games in all competitions. Nevertheless, it will be nearly impossible to find a single Shakhtar fan who would agree that the Brazilian is the greatest striker in the history of the club. That title would probably go to Vitaly Starukhin, who starred for Shakhtar in the 1970s, and there are numerous other candidates bound to finish ahead of Adriano in the polls.
His record comes with caveats
While Adriano is enjoying his recent fame, it is important not to overestimate his abilities. Eight of his nine goals in the Champions League were scored against BATE, while he only found the net once in three games against Porto and Athletic Bilbao. In the local league, Adriano has only scored four goals this season, putting him third behind Oleksandr Gladkiy and Alex Teixeira even among Shakhtar players alone. Roma thought about signing him in January, only to opt for Seydou Doumbia instead. If the Brazilian fails to prove himself against Bayern, his feat against Borisov is likely to be considered a fluke and forgotten pretty quickly.
Michael Yokhin is ESPN FC's European football writer. Follow him on Twitter: @Yokhin