Cristiano Ronaldo said Fabio Paim was a better player than him - what happened next? | OneFootball

Cristiano Ronaldo said Fabio Paim was a better player than him - what happened next?

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Cristiano Ronaldo enjoys tooting his own horn but after his arrival at Manchester United in 2003, there was another player he wanted to rave about.

“If you think I’m good, just wait until you see Fabio Paim,” Ronaldo told reporters at the time.

Fabio Paim. Hmm.

Paim, like Ronaldo, was also in Sporting Lisbon’s academy and he was thought of even more highly than the future five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

But while Ronaldo went on to achieve extraordinary things in the game, things didn’t quite work out for Paim.

Paim's sad career

His story, as shared by The Sun, is a rather sad one. After joining Sporting at the age of six, Paim’s development was impressive and by the age of 14 he was being followed by United, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Indeed, the French Football Federation invited him to move to France so he could represent Les Bleus.

Sporting responded to the interest by tying Paim down to a contract worth £18,000-per-week when he was 16, an incredible sum for a youngster.

Paim spent his money on cars

Earning such an enormous wage while still a teenager did more harm to Paim, and it paved the way for his decline.

Speaking to Globoesporte in 2017, he said: “I spent a lot of money on cars. I love cars. I spent lavishly on the ones I wanted. All of them.

"Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Maserati and even a Punto. Every car you could imagine.

“When you have a lot of money, you need a support system around you. I would have done it differently, if I could.

“I knew what I was doing. I believed I had more talent than everyone else.

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"Like everyone, I wanted to feel good, wear nice clothing, drive a nice car and behave with no humility.

“But, it’s normal, that’s what people work for, to be satisfied. On the field, I did what I had to, in order to retreat to my place. I spent time with people I wanted to and did what I wanted.

“At the time, no one criticised me when things were going well. But when I stopped playing, they started pointing the finger. I just wanted to be with my cars.”

Paim joined Chelsea in 2008

Paim didn’t come from money - he didn’t even have proper boots when he started playing - so he wasn’t ready when suddenly he had a lot of it.

The attacking midfielder left Sporting for Chelsea in a loan deal in 2008.

It was a move that would hopefully ignite his career, but it did the exact opposite.

“It was there where I stopped training and doing my work,” he continued.

“I started drinking. I had money and I started doing a lot of things I didn’t do before. The doors were open for me to do what I felt like.”

His story has an uplifting end

Paim spent a year at Chelsea and returned to Sporting. In 2010, he was released by the Portuguese club without making a league appearance.

He then became a football journeyman, signing for 12 different clubs in seven different countries. Along the way were spells in China, Angola, Lithuania and Qatar.

In Luxembourg, Paim was sacked by second-tier side Union 05 Kayl-Tetange for “unprofessional behaviour”.

His football career was all but over by the time Paim was arrested on suspicion of ‘drugs trafficking’ in 2019.

Paim was eventually acquitted.

So his story has an uplifting ending.

Things didn't work out for Paim but he can use everything he's learned to help those coming through at Sporting.

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