FORMER Brazil star Alexandre Pato has opened up about how he was 24 hours away from LOSING HIS ARM as a child.
The forward, 33, was tipped to win the Ballon d’Or and become an all-time great in the early stages of his football career.
Alexandre Pato spent six months at Chelsea in 2016AFP or Licensors
Pato now plays for MLS club Orlando CityRex
However, his football dream could have been scuppered when he was a boy after a freak injury to his arm.
In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, he said: “I had tripped over a chain in a car park and fallen on my left arm. They bandaged me up so heavily, I was half human half mummy.
“I played a tournament with my arm in a sling. After the cast had come off, my friends and I played this silly game where whoever got up from the sofa would get kicked — unless he managed to run away.
“That was fun until I accidentally sat on the left arm, and the pain got so bad that it reached my legs.
“The doctor did an X-ray and found a big tumour. He said, ‘He must have surgery now, or we’ll have to amputate’.
“I was shocked. I was 24 hours away from losing my left arm. But you think my parents could afford the surgery? Pfffffft. We were all like, What do we do now???
“Well, my dad had to get creative again. He used to film my games. So he took the tapes to the hospital, sent a prayer to the skies, went into the doctor’s office and put on some grainy footage where this grinning kid was running around on a futsal court.
“My dad said, ‘Doc, this is my son. I don’t know how to pay for this, but I just don’t want to see him stop playing’.
“Then I don’t know what happened. Maybe the doctor thought I was good. Maybe he heard the voice of God. The doctor said, ‘Don’t worry, the surgery will be on me’.
“I’m telling you, it was a miracle. I’ll never forget that name: Paulo Roberto Mussi. He gave me a new life.”
Pato also discussed his relationship with legendary manager Carlo Ancelotti – who coached him during his early days at AC Milan between 2007 and 2009.
Pato contributed 27 goals and eight assists in 62 games under the Italian head coach.
And his deep connection with Ancelotti led the AC Milan boss to name his dog after the forward.
Pato, who contributed just one goal in two games for Chelsea back in 2016, added: “Ancelotti became like a father to me. He even named his dog Pato.
“You saw that picture of him on the bus parade in Madrid, with the sunglasses and the cigar? Well, at Milan he’d turn up to training in a helicopter.
“He lived in Parma and his wife knew how to fly one. He’d step out like James Bond. If anyone lived with style, it was Carlo.”