Rivaldo possesses the most extraordinary (and expensive) left foot in the world. The latest in a long line of Brazilian magicians, the gangly, 6-foot-3-inch, 165-pound player offers a combination of speed, lethally precise shooting and creative dribbling.
Soccer deity and countryman Pele calls him the world’s best. Barcelona fans don’t disagree. "He’s pure magic," says one, from the Canary Islands. "He can solve a bad game in one minute."
Rivaldo has led Barcelona to consecutive league titles and Brazil to America’s Cup championships. Still, the forward is seen by some as a problem player, prioritizing his own performance above the team’s, playing inconsistently and being polemic in salary negotiations. He has already expressed his yearning to leave Barcelona. Top European clubs are circling to snag him away.
Is Rivaldo one of the greatest? If winners’ medals are a deciding factor, there are numerous players with better claims to the title. But in terms of pure footballing genius – the ability to astound opponents and spectators with moments of spontaneous breathtaking skill, to score and create wondrous goals from virtually anywhere on the pitch – then Rivaldo is the only candidate.
Add triumph in the face of adversity to the equation and the man who followed such greats as Pele and Zico into Brazil’s hallowed number 10 jersey becomes hard to overlook.
Like many before him, Rivaldo found in football a game he loved and a hope for salvation. Born into stark poverty, the hardship of his childhood almost ruined Rivaldo’s dream. As a child he lost teeth decayed by malnutrition, and his poor diet left him dangerously thin, bow-legged and muscularly underdeveloped for his height. Crucially, he maintained the determination to succeed as a major footballer, despite the doubts of coaches at his first club Paulista who feared that he would be too frail to withstand the rigors of the professional game.
Tragically Rivaldo’s father Romildo was killed in a road accident in 1989. Romildo had always encouraged his son to pursue his footballing dream and his death was a massive personal blow to Rivaldo at the time that his career was just beginning. Nevertheless he overcame both personal loss and his doubters to blossom very rapidly into one of the world’s most exciting footballing talents.
Rivaldo – the complete package, and in the eyes of many, the world’s best.
Source: British Council
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