Robson de Souza (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈʁɔpsõ] or [ˈʁɔbisõ d(ʒi) ˈsowzɐ], born 25 January 1984), more commonly known as Robinho (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁɔˈbĩɲu]), is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for AEK Athens as a forward. He is known for his ball control, attacking instinct and dribbling.
In 1999, at only 15 years of age, Robinho was personally picked by Brazil legend Pelé as his heir apparent and went on to lead Santos FC to their first Campeonato Brasileiro title since Pelé himself played for the club. Since then, he has won a second title with Santos and two more with Spanish club Real Madrid. He won the Italian Serie A title in his first season at Milan. Robinho has won one Copa América title and two FIFA Confederations Cups with the Brazilian national team, and played at two FIFA World Cups.
Born in São Vicente, São Paulo State, Robinho signed his first professional contract with Santos FC in 2002 at the age of 18. He made 24 appearances in his debut season and scored one goal as Santos won the 2002 Campeonato Brasileiro. He reached the final of the 2003 Copa Libertadores with Santos, but lost in the final to Boca Juniors. In 2004, Robinho finished with 21 goals in 37 games and led Santos to win another Campeonato Brasileiro.
His form had brought him to the attention of many European clubs in the summer of 2004, but Robinho remained with Santos after the Brazilian club rejected all offers. His form suffered in the 2005 season, however, after his mother, Marina da Silva Souza, was kidnapped by gunmen at her Praia Grande home on 6 November; she was released unharmed six weeks later after a ransom was paid.
Robinho scored nine goals in 12 league games, and his value continued to increase as his talent became more and more apparent to the powers of European football. Santos began to realize it would become increasingly difficult to hold on to their star player. In July 2005, Spanish giants Real Madrid signed Robinho by agreeing to pay a fee equal to 60 percent of the buyout clause in his contract belonging to Santos (€24 million).
Robinho was given the number 10 shirt for Real Madrid, previously worn by Luís Figo. He ended up making 37 appearances and scored 14 goals in his first season. At the start of the 2006–07 season, Robinho spent much of the first few months of the season selected as a substitute by manager Fabio Capello, even after being Man of the Match in the first Clásico against Barcelona that year. Only after the winter break did Robinho find himself in the starting XI, later playing a crucial role as Real Madrid won their 30th La Liga title that year. The title was the third league championship of his career.
Capello was subsequently fired, however, and Bernd Schuster was appointed as head coach of Real Madrid. Robinho finished with 11 league goals and eight assists for Madrid in the 2007–08 La Liga season, as well as four goals during Real Madrid's Champions League campaign. Robinho then got injured at the beginning of the second half of the season. He did not recover fully enough to help Madrid against Roma in the Champions League. The week before, however, Robinho saved Real Madrid's La Liga title hopes with a two-goal performance on 3 March 2008 as Madrid defeated Recreativo de Huelva away from home. That game kept a resurgent Barcelona at bay and ultimately secured Real Madrid's 31st league title and Robinho's fourth.
Robinho was Real Madrid's third-highest scorer during his Madrid years, behind strikers Raúl and Ruud van Nistelrooy. He was also the player with the second-most assists, behind Guti, and the only Madrid player, along with goalkeeper Iker Casillas, to finish in the top ten of the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations for 2007–08.
Real Madrid President Ramón Calderón had promised to negotiate a new contract with Robinho at the midpoint of the 2007–08 season, which never materialised. Calderón, however, insisted talks would occur in the summer; again Calderón went back on his word. Robinho subsequently revealed talks never began because Madrid hoped to use him as part of the deal to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in the summer of 2008. After the failed move for Ronaldo, Madrid finally attempted to negotiate a new contract with Robinho, which he rejected and led to him wanting a transfer to Chelsea.
On 1 September 2008, the final day of the Premier League summer transfer window, Robinho completed a €42.5 million (£33M) move to Manchester City on a four-year deal. This occurred on the same day the club was bought out by the Arab investment company Abu Dhabi United Group.
He had previously been linked with a transfer to Chelsea, and he had emphasised his desire to play for the London club up to the eve of the transfer. On 27 August, Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon said that the club were "confident" that the transaction would go through, and Madrid had also given their consent for the player to leave. Robinho's expectancy to move to Chelsea was such that upon signing for Manchester City he accidentally stated, "On the last day, Chelsea made a great proposal and I accepted." To this comment, a reporter then replied, "You mean Manchester, right?" "Yeah, Manchester, sorry!" answered Robinho.
In an interview with The Guardian, Robinho stated that Manchester City being a big club and the presence of Brazilian friends Jô and Elano were incentives for him to join the team. He made his team debut and scored his very first Premier League goal on 13 September 2008, coincidentally in a 3–1 home defeat to Chelsea. On 26 October, he scored his first Premier League hat-trick against Stoke City, and he scored his first European goal for Manchester City in a 3–2 UEFA Cup group stage win over Twente on 6 November. He was given the captain's armband for the match against Hull City, due to Richard Dunne's suspension, which ended in a 2–2 draw.
On 19 April, Robinho scored his 13th league goal for Manchester City in the 2–1 win away at Everton on 25 April, City's first away win since 31 August 2008. The following week, he scored his third consecutive goal in three games, against Blackburn Rovers, to help Manchester City to a 3–1 win. Robinho finished the season as City's top goalscorer with 14 and the fourth top scorer in the league.
His second season at Manchester City did not go as well. He missed three months of the season due to injury and only played 12 games in total (ten in the Premier League), and scored one goal (against lower league club Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup). Due to this, he fell down the pecking order and sought a move away from the club in the January transfer window.
Return to Santos (Loan)
On 28 January 2010, Robinho returned to his home club Santos due to moving down the pecking order at Manchester City, joining them on a six-month loan deal. He had publicly stated that at Manchester City he would play every other game, and because of the upcoming World Cup, he wanted to play every game, and so returned to Brazil with Santos after declining a move to São Paulo. On his return to Santos, Robinho scored a backheel against aforementioned admirers São Paulo with five minutes to spare to complete a 2–1 victory for the Peixe. In the final match of his loan deal on 4 August, Robinho helped Santos win the Copa Brasil. Although Santos lost 2–1 to Vitória, they won the tie 3–2 on aggregate to win the competition for the first time in their history. Shortly afterwards, Robinho stated that he wanted to remain with Santos rather than return to England. Manchester City, however, refused to extend the loan deal and Santos failed to make a transfer bid.
Robinho returned to training with Manchester City in August 2010, but stated that he was seeking a move away from the club before the end of the summer transfer window on 31 August. Turkish clubs Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş opened transfer negotiations with City, but Robinho rejected a move to Turkey, declaring that he would rather move to a club in Spain or Italy.
On 31 August 2010, Robinho moved to Milan from Manchester City for a fee of £15 million (€18M), signing a four-year contract. He made his debut as a substitute in a 2–0 defeat to newly promoted Cesena. He started his first game with Milan in their 1–0 win over Genoa. He scored his first goal in injury time against Chievo to make the score 3–1 on 16 October 2010. He continued his goalscoring form with a goal the following week in a Serie A match against Napoli on 25 October 2010. He then scored the first goal for Milan against Sampdoria, but Giampaolo Pazzini equalised on the hour mark to end as a draw. On 4 December 2010, he scored the second goal for Milan against Brescia in their 3–0 win at the San Siro. Eight days later, on 12 December, he again scored the second goal in a 3–0 victory for Milan against Bologna. He scored his first goal of 2011 against Bari to give Milan another 3–0 victory. On 29 January, he scored against Catania following a deflection from a Zlatan Ibrahimović free kick to give Milan a 1–0 lead, then assisted Ibrahimović to give Milan a 2–0 win. On 12 February 2011, he scored his first brace for Milan against Parma to help Milan to a 4–0 win. Against Cagilari, Robinho scored a brace in the 37th week of Serie-A on 14 May 2011, leading to celebrations of the Scudetto winners after the match.
He started the 2011–12 Serie A season well, taking part in Milan's win over Internazionale in the Supercoppa Italiana. Scoring 11 goals in all competitions, Robinho helped Milan to a second-place finish in the Serie A.
After Alexandre Pato took the number 9 jersey at Milan following the departure of club legend Filippo Inzaghi, Robinho was handed the number 7 jersey that previously belonged to Pato. Robinho started in Milan's first game of the 2012–13 Serie A against Sampdoria, but was replaced by Urby Emanuelson due to an injury. Robinho made his comeback as a substitute against Cagliari, where Milan won 2–0. Four days later, Milan drew against Parma in an away match where Robinho came on as a substitute. Robinho came on as a substitute again against Internazionale, but Milan eventually lost 1–0. Robinho was then injured in training and was sidelined for the next five games. He made his comeback against Málaga as a substitute in the 80th minute; the game ended as a draw. He scored his first goal of the season against Juventus, which was the winner in a 1–0 victory on 25 November 2012.
Robinho was close to signing with old club Santos in both January 2013 and July 2013, but the move fell through on both occasions due to the player's wage demands. On both occasions, Santos managed to reach an agreement with Milan over the transfer fee.
On 18 July 2013, Robinho signed a new contract with Milan on a reduced wage, keeping him with the Rossoneri until 2016. His previous deal was set to expire on 30 June 2014.
Robinho suffered a groin strain early in the pre-season against Valencia on 27 July 2013, which disrupted his preparation for the upcoming season. Before he suffered the injury in the match, he missed a penalty, but scored a goal from open play less than a minute later.
On 22 October, Robinho scored the opening goal in the 2013–14 Champions League match against Group H favourites Barcelona, from a pass by his compatriot Kaká. However, after Lionel Messi's equalizer, he missed an excellent opportunity to score another goal in the second half, after which the match ended in a 1-1 draw. In November, he was sidelined again, this time due to a dislocated shoulder, an injury he picked up during the match against Celtic in the Champions League.
Robinho scored his only goal in Milan's Coppa Italia campaign at the San Siro in the quarter-finals against Spezia on 15 January 2014. He opened the scoring with a close-range header in a 3-1 victory against the Serie B club. In February, an injury of his left thigh prevented him from playing in the first leg of the Champions League first knockout round against Atlético Madrid. He made a substitute appearance during the second leg in Spain, but was unable to prevent a 5–1 aggregate defeat against the Rojiblancos.
Second return to Santos (loan)
On 6 August 2014, Robinho arrived in São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport and subsequently returned to Santos in a one-year loan deal. Despite being out of new coach Filippo Inzaghi's plans, the Italian side still will pay Robinho's wages—while Peixe pays R$600,000 per month, Milan will pay another R$400,000.
Robinho was presented on the following day, stating a desire to play in the following match against fierce rivals Corinthians. He made his re-debut for Peixe on 10 August, starting in a 0–1 eventual home loss.
Robinho scored his first goal after his return four days later, netting the first and assisting Rildo in a 2–0 home success over Londrina for the Copa do Brasil championship. His second goal came on the 29th, in a 2–0 away win over Grêmio for the same tournament.
On 13 September, Robinho scored his first Brasileirão goal, netting his side's second in a 2–1 home win over Coritiba. He scored again on 21 September with a left-footed strike in a 3–1 victory over Figueirense. On 30 June 2015, after already rescinding his link with Milan in May, he left Peixe after his contract expired.
On 16 July 2015, Robinho signed a six-month contract with Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, managed by compatriot Luiz Felipe Scolari and linking up with his international teammate Paulinho. On 23 July 2015, he made his unofficial debut for Guangzhou in an international friendly against Bayern Munich. He won the Chinese Super League in the 2015 season.
On 1 February 2016, Robinho became a free agent after his contract expired with Guangzhou.
Robinho earned his first cap for Brazil in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup match on 13 July, which Brazil lost 1–0 to Mexico. Although Brazil chose to send their under-23 team, the CONCACAF Gold Cup matches are considered as full international matches by FIFA. He was part of Brazil squad for 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, which Brazil went on to win. During the tournament, Robinho partnered Adriano in attack and scored in group matches against Greece and Japan.
Robinho was named in Brazil's squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. During the tournament, Robinho was mainly used as a substitute, with the established forwards Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Adriano and Kaká starting in attack. However, Robinho was named in the starting line-up for Brazil's third group match; a 4–1 defeat of Japan. He made a third substitute appearance of the tournament in Brazil's 1–0 quarter-final defeat by France.
In the absence of Brazil's World Cup forwards, Robinho was a regular starter for the team at the 2007 Copa América a year later. For the tournament, he wore the number 11 shirt, the same number that his childhood hero Romário wore. Robinho scored all four of Brazil's group stage goals via a hat-trick in Brazil's 3–0 group stage match against Chile, and a penalty in a 1–0 win over Ecuador. He then scored two goals in a 6–1 quarter-final thrashing of Chile. Brazil went on to win the tournament, beating Argentina 3–0 in the final. Robinho reaped the individual honours, finishing as the Golden Boot winner in addition to being named the best player of the tournament.
In 2009, he was a member of the Brazil team that won the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa. He played in every game in the competition, as Brazil defeated the United States 3–2 in the final to win the tournament.
Robinho was named in Brazil's squad for the 2010 World Cup, where he played alongside Luís Fabiano in attack. He scored in the second round match against Chile as Brazil won 3–0 to advance to the quarter-finals. He then scored the opener in the quarter-final match against the Netherlands, but Brazil eventually lost 2–1 and was eliminated.
On 31 October 2013, after a hiatus of two years, Robinho was recalled to the Seleção by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. He took part in two games against Honduras and Chile on 16 and 19 November respectively. During the game against Chile, he scored his first international goal since 2011. However, he was not included in Scolari's squad for the 2014 World Cup.
After the World Cup, returning coach Dunga recalled Robinho to the Brazilian national squad. On 6 September 2014, Robinho played 13 minutes as a substitute in Brazil's 1–0 win against Colombia in Miami. In May 2015, Robinho was included in Brazil's 23-man squad for the 2015 Copa América held in Chile. He started their final group game against Venezuela after Neymar was suspended for the entire tournament. In the ninth minute, Robinho sent in the corner from which Thiago Silva volleyed Brazil into the lead in an eventual 2–1 victory which sent them into the quarter-finals as group winners. On 27 June, Robinho scored the opening goal of the quarter-final with Paraguay, which Brazil eventually lost 4–3 in a penalty shootout.
Style of play
A quick, creative, agile and technically-gifted player, Robinho is mainly known for his flair, ball control, attacking instinct and dribbling skills, as well as his use of tricks and feints, such the step over and the flip flap, due to his quick feet; his precocious performances and ability on the ball drew comparisons with compatriot Pelé in his youth. Usually deployed in a free role, he is capable of playing in several offensive positions, and often plays as a winger, although he has also been used as a supporting forward, as a striker, and even as an attacking midfielder on occasion, due to his tendency to be involved in the team's attacking play, as well as his capacity to both score and create goals. Robinho has, however, also been criticised for his poor work-rate, lack of tactical discipline, and for his slender physique, which often leads him to go to ground easily. Despite the talent he demonstrated in his youth, his career has also been marked by inconsistency, and he has been accused by some in the sport of failing to live up to his potential.
|Real Madrid||2005–06||La Liga||37||8||6||4||—||8||0||—||51||12|
|Manchester City||2008–09||Premier League||31||14||0||0||0||0||10||1||0||0||41||15|
|Santos (loan)||2010||Série A||2||0||8||6||—||0||0||12||5||22||11|
|Santos (loan)||2014||Série A||16||4||5||5||—||0||0||0||0||21||9|
|Guangzhou Evergrande||2015||Super League||10||3||0||0||—||—||1||0||11||3|
|Atlético Mineiro||2016||Série A||0||0||0||0||—||0||0||3||5||3||5|
- Appearances in the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana
- Appearances in the Copa Libertadores
- Appearances in the Campeonato Paulista
- Appearances in the UEFA Champions League
- Appearances in the Spanish Supercup
- Appearances in the UEFA Europa League
- Appearances in the Italian Supercup
- Appearances in the FIFA Club World Cup
- Appearances in the 2016 Campeonato Mineiro
- Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (2): 2002, 2004
- Campeonato Paulista (2): 2010, 2015
- Copa do Brasil: 2010
- Real Madrid
- Guangzhou Evergrande
- FIFA Confederations Cup: 2005, 2009
- Copa América: 2007
- CONCACAF Gold Cup: Silver 2003
- Superclásico de las Américas: 2014