What Happened To Fabio Paim: The Player Who Cristiano Ronaldo Thought Was Better Than Him
After signing for Manchester United in 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo was quick to praise Portuguese football's next big talent.
"If you think I'm good, just wait until you see Fabio Paim." Ronaldo said.
But 17 years after being thrown into the spotlight by one of the greatest players of all time, Paim, 32, was reportedly arrested last year on suspicion of 'drugs trafficking', according to Portuguese paper Correio da Manha.
Police reportedly found 12 grams of cocaine, weighing scales, 900 euros and a BMW during house searches following his arrest and afterwards, the former Chelsea-loanee was remanded to Caxias Prison near Lisbon.
Portugal's PSP force confirmed a man and a woman had been arrested on suspicion of drugs trafficking, as a number of Portuguese newspapers identified the man as Fabio Paim, who was said to have been under investigation for months.
Paim was destined for greatness in the early stages of his career.
He shone in Sporting CP's youth system, just like a certain five-time Ballon d'Or winner did all those years ago, and at the age of 14, scouts from Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid regularly attended games he featured in.
Then, at the age of 19, super-agent Jorge Mendes found him a move to Premier League giants Chelsea.
It all looked promising when Luiz Filipe Scolari brought him to Stamford Bridge in 2008 and many believed he would break into the first team, but the highly-rated teenager only made reserve-team appearances during a disappointing four-mouth spell.
He ultimately failed to live up to expectation after further loan spells at Rio Ave and Real Massama and was released from his contract at Sporting CP in 2010.
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The young striker, who Ronaldo once described as better than him, eventually signed for Portuguese third-division side SCU Torreense, where he made three appearances before leaving in 2011.
In the next eight years, Paim struggled to make a name for himself at a host of different clubs, including Qatar-based side Al Kharaitiyat SC and Luxembourg first division champions Union 05 Kayl-Tétange.
He played in seven different countries - China, Angola, Malta, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Qatar and Brazil - but a lack of fitness, among other factors, played a part in his downfall.
Paim spoke about the height of his career in an interview with Globoesporte, where he talked about Ronaldo, the man who gave him such high praise in 2003.
"He is out of this world. There is no comparison today. In the past, yes." he said.
"At one point, I could do more than him but I did not have what he had, which is the strength and desire to be what I wanted to be. He had a great work ethic and I didn't have that.
"I had the quality, at least as much as him, but I did not have the rest.
"I would have preferred to have less quality if I had more of the other part. I would have been one of the best in the world. But, no one is born perfect. I thought having talent was enough but it's not."