'If I was Batman, Dzeko was my Robin' - How Grafite's heroics helped Wolfsburg win first Bundesliga title
In April 2009, Wolfsburg striker Grafite scored the fifth and final goal in a 5-1 rout of Bayern Munich that helped secure an unexpected Bundesliga title and, in the process, sealed his status as club legend.
Grafite's magical moment was far from a one-off either, as the forward finished a triumphant 2008-09 campaignwith 35 goals to his name in all competitions – and from just 31 games.
The season marked the high point of the Brazilian's career.
Before 2008, Grafite had shown only subtle signs of his full potential, with 22goals for Sao Paulo in 2004 opening the door for a move to Europe through Ligue 1 outfit Le Mans.
The burly front-man had only turned professional at the age of 20, having initially made money by selling rubbish bags on the streets of Brazil.
Grafite's time at Sao Paulo would prove memorable, though, as he found his feet in front of goal and played a parting role in the club'svictorious Copa Libertadorescampaignin 2005.
In France, the Brazilian didn't exactly set the world alight but he did end the 2006-07 season as Le Mans' top scorer, with 15 goals.
That form was enough to attract the attention of Wolfsburg, who signed Grafite on deadline day in August 2007 for €5.5million (£5m/$7m).
Former Bayern manager Felix Magath had himself only just arrived at the club and would prove key as Grafite became anunlikely Bundesliga star.
After scoring12 goals in his first season with Wolfsburg, Grafite exploded in the 2008-09 season and formed a deadly pairing with a young Edin Dzeko.
Worked harder than ever before by a determined anddisciplinedMagath, Wolfsburg managed to reach new heights as they won their first Bundesliga.
Grafite's league-high 28 goals was closely followed by Dzeko's 26, making the duo the most prolific in the the competition's history at the time.
The pair, who both scored twice in that famous 5-1 rout of reigning champions Bayern, have since been described at Wolfsburg's Batman and Robin, a label Grafite has reluctantly embraced in recent years.
"Sure, I am the Batman of that team, andwe had a lot of Robins in the team, but for sure it wasEdin Dzeko," Grafite told Wolfe TV in May.
"We were so strong on and off the field. We did so well that season. We had a lot of players that were very important. As a team we were very strong.
"If I was Batman, Dzeko was my Robin, my partner."
While many Wolfsburg fans rightly view that terrific strike partnership as integral to the club's historic title triumph, Grafite says the off-field support he received at the club played just as big a role in his inspired performances for the club.
"The 23rd of May, 2009 was a very special day because that was when we beat Werder Bremen to win the league. The game against Bayern Munich was very special also," Grafite said.
"But I also remember once at the end of 2008 we were training and there was a lot of ice on the field. Someone slipped and theirboot hit me in the head behind my ear.
"I was out for two months.Three days in the hospital.And I was so grateful for all the support from the club at the time. They cared about me outside of the field and that was a very important moment for me.
"It's not a happy or sad moment, but it was a moment that I was so happy to be there and receive such support."
The goals would slowly start to dry up, however, and in 2011, at the age of 32, Grafite decided to make the most of what time he had left in the game and move to UAE giants Al Ahli.
While some players can cruise in the Middle East as they pocket a sizable pay check, the Brazilian striker gave his all for the club and ended up scoring an impressive 86 goals across 113 matches.
In 2015, Grafite then sealed a return to Brazil, where he ended his career two years later, in hishomeland, and out of the European spotlight.
Source : goal.com
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