Why Alexandre Pato turned down European offers for Orlando City SC

Alexandre Pato - Orlando City SC - stadium pose

Before he became a head-turning offseason signing for Orlando City SC, Alexandre Pato faced other offers for his globetrotting career's next stop.

Orlando's shiny new acquisition addressed the media for the first time since his stateside arrival on Friday, revealing that he had suitors in Europe, Asia and Brazil, but turned them all down to sign with the Lions. The root of that decision? Pato said it simply came down to feeling as though Orlando will provide the best quality of life, both for himself and his family.

"I received many opportunities to go to Europe again, to Asia and [the United Arab] Emirates. I said for my family, 'No, I want to be more happy.' I don't know, maybe [other places] have very good football and nice people, but I said, 'No, I want a new challenge' but I need to find someplace nice for a family," Pato said. 

“I expected for the new step, for the new club [to] get my happiness back for myself. I want to just be happy.”

Pato burst onto the world stage as a highly-touted teenager at Internacional and AC Milan, embarking on a well-traveled career that's included Serie A, La Liga and Premier League stops. While the 31-year-old Brazilian forward has been hampered by injuries at times, he feels like he has plenty still to offer.

“I’m 31 years old,” he said. “I’m so young. I’m still so young.”

Pato, early into his Orlando stay, said he's already connected with head coach Oscar Pareja, who led the Florida-based club to their most successful MLS campaign to date during his first year on the sidelines in 2020. Upon joining a formidable attack that includes Designated Players like Nani and Mauricio Pereyra, Pato said he's looking forward to working with his new coach.

“He’s like a father,” Pato said of Pareja. “He loves you, but sometimes he knows [you] need a push. ... I will give everything for him. From the first impression, he’s amazing.”

In a setting where he feels comfortable and happy with life off the field, Pato's confident he can make an impact in Orlando.

“I’m so empowered now,” he said. “My mentality is empowered. I understand what I need to do to enjoy my work. I need to work hard. You get some things important in your life, you need to work hard. So that’s my challenge when I accept to come to Orlando.”