Robson de Souza, more commonly known as Robinho, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for the Brazil national team as a forward. He is known for his ball control, attacking instinct and dribbling. In 1999, at only 15 years of age, Robinho was personally picked by Brazil legend Pelé as his heir apparent and went on to lead Santos FC to their first Campeonato Brasileiro title since Pelé himself played for the club. Since then, he has won a second title with Santos and two more with Spanish club Real Madrid. He won the Italian Serie A title in his first season at Milan. Robinho has won one Copa América title and two FIFA Confederations Cups with the Brazilian national team, and played at two FIFA World Cups.
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Robinho was born in São Vicente, São Paulo State. He signed his first professional contract with Santos FC in 2002 at the age of 18. He made 24 appearances in his debut season and scored one goal as Santos won the 2002 Campeonato Brasileiro. He reached the final of the 2003 Copa Libertadores with Santos, but lost in the final to Boca Juniors. In 2004, Robinho finished with 21 goals in 37 games and led Santos to win another Campeonato Brasileiro. His form had brought him to the attention of many European clubs in the summer of 2004, but Robinho remained with Santos after the Brazilian club rejected all offers. His form suffered in the 2005 season, however, after his mother, Marina da Silva Souza, was kidnapped by gunmen at her Praia Grande home on 6 November; she was released unharmed six weeks later after a ransom was paid. Robinho scored nine goals in 12 league games, and his value continued to increase as his talent became more and more apparent to the powers of European football. Santos began to realize it would become increasingly difficult to hold on to their star player. In July 2005, Spanish giants Real Madrid signed Robinho by agreeing to pay a fee equal to 60% of the buyout clause in his contract belonging to Santos (€24 million).