Aílton Gonçalves da Silva (born 19 July 1973 in Mogeiro, Paraíba, Brazil), usually known simply as Aílton, is a football player, currently playing for SC Rheindorf Altach. A journeyman, Ailton has previously played for Beşiktaş in Istanbul, UANL Tigres in Mexico, and for the German clubs Werder Bremen, FC Schalke 04, Hamburger SV, MSV Duisburg as well as serving small stints with Red Star Belgrade and Grasshoppers Zürich. After Giovane Elber (133) and Stéphane Chapuisat (106), he is only the third foreign player to have scored more than 100 goals in the German Bundesliga.
Ailton's career began in Brazil, and he played in his homeland with Mogi Mirim EC, Santa Cruz FC and Guarani FC. He then moved to UANL Tigres in Mexico, which made way to a 1998-99 move to Werder Bremen in Germany.
He had some difficulties in his first season, managing only two league goals, but developed into a strong service provider. Werder Bremen won the DFB-Pokal in 1999. However, Ailton did not take part in the final, which was won on penalties against Bayern Munich. In 1999-00 he scored twelve goals, 13 in 2000-01, 16 in 2001-02 and 2002-03, the following season bringing with it 28 goals. He won the Bundesliga and the German Cup with Werder Bremen. Due to his achievements at Bremen, he was selected in 2004 as the first foreigner to win the German Footballer of the Year award. The 2004-05 season saw a lucrative move to Schalke 04.
In July 2005, Rıza Çalımbay brought him to Beşiktaş for €3.5 million, but he failed to show his full potential. Beşiktaş management brought him to the team with high hopes but his lack of scoring touch turned the fans against him and they wanted him replaced with another quality striker as soon as possible. Having failed to find himself a club in January 2006, Ailton had undertaken an escape attempt toward Brazil, but was stopped at the airport by Beşiktaş interim manager Mehmet Eksi. However, because he had not found a new club during the winter, he returned to Istanbul and faced his old team Werder Bremen in the Efes Cup scoring a hat trick for Beşiktaş.
He returned to Germany on loan to Hamburger SV in January 2006, but broke his jaw in only his second appearance for the club - an away game against Hannover 96 - and missed most of the remaining season. He scored three times upon his return. As a result, Hamburger did not decide to buy Ailton for a previously agreed sum of € 1,75 million.
Ailton had to return to Beşiktaş where he was still out of favour. As a result he was transferred to Serbian side Red Star Belgrade where he signed on August 31, 2006. In the winter break of the 2006/07 season Ailton was loaned out to Grasshopper Club Zürich. He managed to score eight goals during his spell in Switzerland. Grasshopper announced not to renew Ailton's contract and he was signed by newly promoted Bundesliga side MSV Duisburg in July 2007 on a one year contract. Unfortunately, he didn't meet the expectation in his new club. He even showed unprofessional conduct by arriving late from winter break. The contract was canceled end of February 2008.
He is married to wife Rosalie, with two children.
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