Lightning Can Strike At The Same Place

A club that revealed Pele. Reason enough to be known and respected worldwide. But for Santos, it was not. In addition to Pelé, the greatest player in the history of football, the coast club has become known for developing above-average players and, as a direct consequence, winning titles such as Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup.

Illustration by Antonio Losada (@chapulana)

With the most-winning Santos’ epoch gone, when Pepe, Coutinho and Pele himself wore the sacred cloak, we reached the 2000s. Although their glory and respect overlapped, the team had not produce that expressive type of player for quite some time. Then we got to 2002 and Elano, Diego Ribas and Robinho appeared at once. At the time, the team, after many doubts and incidents, had to resort to the youth ranks. Telling the story as shallow as possible, the three boys from Vila Belmiro led the team to the Brazilian Championship that year. So, history was written and the new crop unveiled to the world.

In addition to the players called “fora da curva”, the club has always had a reputation for developing players with potential to play in Europe. Rafael Cabral (Sampdoria), Alex (former PSG), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Thiago Maia (Lille), Ganso (Sevilla), Felipe Anderson (West Ham), Moraes (Shakhtar Donetsk) and Gabriel (Internazionale) are examples . Some in medium-size clubs, others in elite stages, but all with potential.

Santos became even more known by their recent grooming of stars. In Brazil, it is common to say that lightning does not fall twice in the same place — until Santos appears and belittles the story. Not only does it fall twice, but it falls in a considerable higher number of times. In 2002, Robinho appeared. Although he has not had the same performance in European soil, the player is an idol of the club, assuming great responsibility. But it was in 2009 that the club unveiled its greatest talent since Pelé. Nice to meet you, Neymar Júnior. The then kid brought a technical, tactical — and financial — return and raised the club’s name to unimaginable levels. He has brought more pros than cons, both on and off the field. The rest is history.

Since Neymar departed to Barcelona, ​​the club has not developed an above-average player. Today, Santos features defender Lucas Veríssimo and striker Yuri Alberto, but they’re still a good distance behind the technical return the incomparable Neymar brought with him. Gabriel Barbosa is becoming increasingly questionable at Vila Belmiro, given that he showed abilities but, once transferred to Inter Milan and then Benfica, he has disappointed and he’s just returned to his home club in Brazil. However, none of them — since Neymar — make us shiver like Rodrygo Goes, coincidentally called Raio (Lighting).

Rodrygo exploded earlier this year after being singled out thanks to his goals, assists and short dribbling in the club’s youth categories. At first, he had a certain difficulty in entanglement and physical disputes, but nothing that Raio could not adapt to. Today, he is the best player on the team. No wonder, he was signed by Real Madrid for 50 million euros. While still not present at the Spanish club (he will move on June 2019), Rodrygo has everything to keep his essence and engrave his name in the history of Brazilian football, as well as his idol Neymar Júnior, developed in the same club, nine years ago.

Lightnings that only fall on Santos Futebol Clube.

Caio Alves