Chances are you have never heard of Fabio Paim, a 32-years-old Portuguese winger whose swirling career has taken to the football minors of Angola, Qatar, China, Malta, Lithuania, and Luxembourg, all with the past decade.
Paim was one of the brightest Portugal prospects in the mid-2000s but failed to live up to the expectations of his talent, with money quickly turning his head.
Yes, believe me, the hype in football is a very dangerous thing! Like we have seen in most cases, there are players that have thrived off expectations such as Cristiano Ronaldo. And on the other hand, there are those like Fabio Paim, who are crushed under it.
As early as nine years of ago, Paim’s promising career had begun in his homeland of Portugal after Sporting Cp spotted the attacker and lured him to their youth side. In those early days at Lisbon, a young Ronaldo would come across Paim, who he could not help but praise his considerable talent.
“If you think I’m good, just wait until you see Fabio Paim,” Cristiano reportedly told reporters when he arrived in Manchester United from Sporting in 2003.
Ronaldo and Paim were more acquaintances than friends in Portugal, and they seemed destined for greatness. However, things didn’t go straight for one of them. While Ronaldo’s career took off without a hitch, Paim’s instead stumbled from one block to another.
As Fabio Paim’s career blossomed in those early stages, elite clubs across Europe, including Barcelona and Manchester United scouted him as a teenager. But Sporting was desperate to keep hold of their top talent. Thus, they ended up throwing a huge amount at the teenage player, who is still yet to know football.
Even Fabio Paim himself suggested he was earning up to €150,000 a month at that time, while still just 16 and also yet to play a senior game.
“I received a lot of money when I was 16; I already had a contract. I received more than the players of the main team because there were many clubs that wanted me,” Paim told Globo Esporte in 2017.
“I was not used to having money. When I started playing, I didn’t even have boots. All of a sudden, things were happening, and I was not prepared.”
Meanwhile, Sporting was happy to spend the cash that they were not so reluctant to offer Fabio Paim the first-team experience. They only continued shipping the youngster off on loans, with Paim experiencing three separate loan spells within Portugal as just a 19-year-old prodigy.
Fabio Paim Loan Move to Chelsea Sparked His Downfall
Paim’s loan moves earlier with Portugal had gone smoothly until a strange decision to send him to Chelsea on loan in 2008. The move totally undid any progress that he might have made on and off the pitch years back.
Now, with little or no chance of breaking into Chelsea’s first team at that time, Paim was left to tour the English capital. And with more money than sense, Fabio Paim admitted he had his head turned away from football.
“That’s when I started to stop training, started to fail to fulfill things, started to drink… I started doing a lot of things because I had a lot of money, I had open doors to do what I wanted,” revealed Paim.
It was then that when his supposed rise as another Sporting superstar started to crumble. He was just 20 at the time. The following year, 2009, Paim would depart Chelsea without making a senior appearance for the English side.
Following his return from Chelsea, Paim again was loaned out, this time to Rio Ave, only for the young talent to be sent packing without a game to his name due to his high wages.
Paim kept on going down instead of being on the rise as many had thought, including Cristiano Ronaldo. He was also shipped out to an underwhelming loan to Portugal’s third division side. But before Fabio Paim could know it in 2010, Sporting had served ties with him after having enough of the player who was not long ago on the radar of Europe’s biggest teams.
What Next Was On the Cards for Fabio Paim?
Fabio Paim was just a revelation that never happened. He went from a supposed Real Madrid transfer target as a teenager to a failed Star who plies his trade in Angola and Qatar in an attempt to reignite his career that was on a free fall.
Although the exact details of Paim’s several transfers over the past few years are not vivid at best, one thing stands out; he would barely manage a handful of appearances for any club he had been to before taking on another.
Back in 2015, it was reported that Paim was sacked for unprofessional behavior while playing in Luxembourg’s second division. Later, the Portugal youth international admits that he has a habit of associating with the wrong type of people.
“I would change a lot [about my career]. Perhaps, the people who were around me,” admitted Paim.
However, that habit has proved a difficult one to overcome for Paim. Last year, the 32-year-old was allegedly arrested in Portugal for narcotics possession.
Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to score freely for Juventus at 35 years of age. But the player he thought could have done better than him recently sealed a move to Poland’s fifth division. Paim is now understandably taking the blames for wasting so much potential.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is in another world today, there can be no comparison,” said Fabio Paim in an interview with Globo Esporte. “In the past, yes. Maybe I was even better than he was, but I didn’t have what he has, which is strength, the will to win, to be what you want to be.”
“He is a hard worker, and I wasn’t. I had the quality, maybe even more than him, but I didn’t have the rest. I would prefer to have much less quality and have the other part, then I could have been one of the best in the world.”
“I thought that only with talent I would succeed, but no.”
Here at the end, is a lesson for everyone. A lesson that Fabio Paim has learned the hard way. The lesson says, “Talent alone is never enough!”
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