- Kerlon the seal dribbler was hailed Brazil’s most exciting prospect since Ronaldinho
- The teenager stood out due to developing his own skill move, the seal dribble
- The iconic skill involved flicking the ball up, balancing it on his forehead and running past defenders while juggling the ball on his head
Kerlon, the seal dribbler, introduced himself to the football world in 2005 when he scored eight goals in seven games at the South American U-17 Championships.
The midfielder linked up well at the tournament with future Manchester United star Anderson and Real Madrid left-back Marcelo. He won the Golden Boot and was voted player of the tournament as Brazil won the title.
His next opportunity to shine was at the U-17 World Cup. However, he suffered an injury, preventing him from participating in the event. Unfortunately, that was just the first of many injuries that would rob the football world one of the best young players.
Kerlon was hailed Brazil’s most exciting prospect since Ronaldinho because of how he ripped defenses to pieces and seemed to embrace their humiliation. There is no doubt that he knew how to beat defenders on one-on-one and use his pace to get in behind the line to slot the ball past the into the net.
The teenager stood out due to developing his own skill move, seal dribble, and that’s why some know him as Kerlon seal dribbler. The iconic skill involved flicking the ball up, balancing it on his forehead and running past defenders while juggling the ball on his head. This is something nobody had managed to do before in the football world.
The skill dribble was more of showboating, and it would be difficult to defend against without giving away a foul. Kerlon was elbowed, grabbed, bundled over, kicked and even headbutted by opponents who didn’t like his trickery.
Speaking of his skill move, Kerlon previously told Globoesporte:
“Even knowing that I would suffer a foul or a violent challenge, I still tried it, flicking the ball up in the air and travelling metres with the ball on my head, not letting it drop. That was my style of football: irreverent, with lots of joy.”
Kerlon’s worldwide reputation was established in YouTube videos and he was one of the favourite subjects of the pioneers of skill compilation videos.
Fast forward over ten years after the South American U-17 Championships, Kerlon the seal dribbler was nowhere to be seen. Sadly, he had already announced retirement from professional football at the age of just 29.
Even though the majority of football fans don’t even know where Kerlon is now, his signature skill remains iconic. You wouldn’t be wrong to say Kerlon is something of a mythical figure in football, and it’s just sad that we never saw him do wonders in European top leagues.
What Happened To Kerlon?
Following Brazil’s U-17 triumph at the South American U-17 Championships, Kerlon was handed his senior club debut at Cruzeiro. Fans began comparing him to Ronaldinho because he did most of the things the Brazilian legend was doing in Europe.
In 2008, Kerlon got his move to Europe after being linked with Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. However, he didn’t join any of the mentioned clubs.
The Brazilian was instead involved in a complicated deal, which saw Inter Milan and Chievo share ownership. The issue was with the number of non-EU spots available in Inter Milan’s squad.
In his debut season in Serie A, Kerlon played just four matches due to injuries. The attacking midfielder would later spend three years with Inter Milan and never make an appearance for them due to the same reason – injuries.
He was loaned to Ajax, Parana and Nacional-NS before eventually becoming a free agent, joining Fujieda MYFC in 2012 as a free agent. After two seasons with the Japanese club, Kerlon became a football journeyman, playing for five teams within two years.
Kerlon, the seal dribbler, announced his retirement from football on October 20, 2017, after being a free agent for three months. Following his retirement, the Brazilian star worked as a coach at Olé Soccer in the United States.
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