If the ball isn’t on the floor, they can’t tackle you. Sound logic really, don’t know why more players didn’t try it. Kerlon tried it, spectacularly, multiple times, and the ‘Seal Dribble’ became his signature move. He got an elbow from Dyego Rocha Coelho for his efforts on one of the occasions as defenders struggled to deal with his ingenuity and balance.
Bursting onto the scene as the ‘Best Player’ and ‘Top Scorer’ at the South American u17s 2005 tournament (8 goals in 7 games), he was linked with every major European club and lauded as the next Ronaldinho.
At 17 years old, the world was at his feet, or head, depending on how you look at it, and FM2006 was ready to celebrate such a Wonderkid. Dribbling was obviously 20, how could it be any less? Heading, weirdly was only 12. Finishing 14, Technique 17, Creativity 14 (Really? The guy INVENTED a dribble?!), Flair 16 and Pace 17 made him a must buy on that year’s game. He was a starter in almost any side, and would develop into the greatest CAM you’d ever seen. If only life imitated art (or gaming).
A move to José Mourinho’s Italian powerhouse Internazionale beckoned in 2008, where he would join up with Ibrahimovic, Quaresma, Crespo, Figo, Zanetti, and compatriots Adriano and Maicon. I know what you’re thinking, this guy can only go right to the top working alongside talents like this. But he didn’t account for Inter pulling the old non-EU quota shuffle, and off he went to Chievo for the season. A recurring knee injury suffered in July 2007 meant that he only played four times for I Gialloblu, and upon ‘officially’ joining Inter in 2009, he was again loaned out, this time to Ajax, with Inter adding into the deal an option to buy, and subsidized wages. It seems the writing was on the wall for young Kerlon and his time in Italy was rapidly coming to an end.
His time at Ajax was even less fruitful than his stint at Chievo. His problematic knee meant he was only offered a place in the Jong Ajax squad until he could prove his fitness, and after a staggering zero appearances in Holland, he returned to Inter for the 2010-11 pre-season.
That knee eh? Injured. Again. During pre-season. Kerlon never wore an Inter shirt in a competitive game and this injury was the death knell to his Italian adventure. After a long stint away from the football pitch recovering, he left on loan, this time to his native Brazil, playing for both Parana and the recently formed Nacional NS. 5 games played between them.
Released by Inter, he joined Fujieda MYFC in Japan for two seasons where he managed to stay fit enough to take part in 22 games, scoring nine goals. His performances were excellent, but his persistent knee issues meant he returned to Brazil for knee surgery and ultimately left the club in 2014.
Once ‘fit’, his globe trotting continued, Miami Dade FC, Sliemma Wanderers, Villa Nova and finally Spartak Trnava all hoping to get more than a few minutes out of the undoubtedly talented, yet perma-injured Brazilian. Twenty games in total over the four clubs, along with multiple visits to physios and surgeons, meant his last shot in Slovakia was terminated. With no other clubs willing to take a chance on him anymore, he retired in October 2017.
For most footballers, that’s the time to pick up the golf clubs. Most footballers aren’t as ingenious as Kerlon however. This guy not only created the Seal Dribble, he created an entire football club. You can’t get released from a club you own can you! Plying it’s trade in the CSL in America, he set up Ole Soccer International. Primarily made up of young Brazilians, Kerlon provides the players with mandatory English classes, and most importantly, a showcase opportunity in front of the best college coaches in America.
Still only 31, you can’t help but feel sorry for a guy who, but for glass knees, was destined for greatness. The Brazilians have a saying: ‘Não adianta chorar sobre o leite derramado’. In fairness, it’s a saying that’s said the world over, ‘There’s no point crying over spilt milk’. Just sounds better in Portuguese.
Kerlon could have easily walked away from the game that destroyed his dreams, but instead, he’s put all his efforts into helping others realise theirs.