As a farewell, Werder Bremen is once again celebrating ex-striker Ailton. Many have looked down on the Brazilian.
Celebrated once again: Ailton (archive photo 2013). Image: dpa
"Ailton, oho! Ailton, ohohoho!", the Werder fans will sing with full fervor one last time on Saturday. The arena in Bremen has been sold out for weeks. The now 41-year-old Brazilian has become a living Werder legend and will now be honored with a farewell game and certainly many noble speeches. And it doesn’t take much imagination to picture the vocabulary from which the farewell speakers will draw.
There will certainly be talk of the "honest skin", the "one-of-a-kind", the "bird of paradise" and the "ball lightning". Ailton has unquestionably written Bundesliga history. He scored countless goals with admirable efficiency. He was the first foreigner to be voted Player of the Year in Germany. He will once again be put on a pedestal and celebrated.
After all, the striker is also considered proof of the crazy types this league produces. People like to remember how he once rode to training on horseback or took a cab to the training camp in Norderney for 333 euros.
Meanwhile, no one is interested in how crumbling it looks under this pedestal. That is part of the hypocrisy of this Bundesliga circus. Because basically everyone has always looked down on Ailton. He was ridiculed for his stoutness, his comfort, his bad German and ultimately also for his fatuousness.
At Werder, he still threw his inimitable class in front of the opponent’s goal into the balance and thus remained somewhat in equilibrium. After that, the crash followed. His stations became shorter and shorter and more bizarre. After stints in Austria and China, he kicked for FC Oberneuland and Hassia Bingen (sixth division).
The tabloids pulled him through the ring with a nose ring until the end. While the Bild newspaper was morally outraged that Ailton was mocked abroad as a "fatty," it printed interviews of the speech-breaking Brazilian in the exact wording. ("Ailton always win, even when he loses.") His money debts made him an easy victim. He trusted the wrong friends and was always given bad advice. Willingly, he let himself be paraded in front of a large audience in the "jungle camp". Afterwards, he was chosen to host "Upps! Die Pannenshow".
Ailton has increasingly become an object of general amusement. A circumstance that was rather conducive to his popularity. After all, anyone who went to the stadium could feel superior to him. And so, when he leaves Bremen, he will be smiled at rather than admired. People will reminisce about the past, when Ailton was not just a laughing stock, but a great act on the pitch. The fact that his fame in the Bundesliga also caused him serious damage and that he now faces an uncertain future is one of the side effects of the business that people prefer to keep quiet about.