Brazil is a special gift for the football world. It is here that the famous Rivaldo footballer was born but his is a story of how fate uplifts you when you least expect it.
When the media reached out to him for an interview in 1991, he looked nothing like a footballer. His lengthy legs bent outwards at the knee, a sure indicator of vitamin D insufficiency and the reason for his bow-legged walk.
Then, Rivaldo footballer was playing for Santa Cruz. Local media had seen how good he was but his stature was nothing they expected. His cheeks were sunken due to persistent starvation in his early teens, BBC Sports describe.
Now 50, Rivaldo’s legacy lives on. He now has a career that not only surpassed his own expectations. Surprisingly, he had no dreams of ever becoming this great.
In his legacy, Rivaldo won the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year. He also scored for Barcelona in what many consider the greatest hat-trick ever.
In 2002, he won the World Cup with Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. A year later, AC Milan won the Champions League through him. Here is his moving life story.
Rivaldo Footballer Life Story
Rivaldo Ferreira grew up in a favela on the outskirts of Recife, which visitors avoided and dreamers were ridiculed.
He would assist his parents out on weekends by weeding lawns and selling gum and ice cream on the city’s famed beaches. On match days, he would set up outside Santa Cruz’s Estadio do Arruda.
Less shy than his elder siblings, Rivaldo’s teachers characterize him as a shy, hesitant reader. He admired Zico and Diego Maradona’s football.
In spite of his thin frame, he was a skilled player who could control the ball like a pro. As much as he loved football, he was equally happy gathering grasshoppers or fighting cockerels.
How Did Rivaldo Start Football Career?
Rivaldo footballer was asked to a trial with Santa Cruz three years after receiving his first boots from his father Romildo. However, Romildo was killed by a bus two weeks before the trial.
Romildo’s death affected Rivaldo and he nearly gave up but his mother came to his rescue. But his mother Marlucia pushed him to get into football. Rivaldo had to walk 30km each day to Santa Cruz’s training center, 15km away. He’d arrive fatigued and leave tired, his bow-leggedness increasing. Despite his efforts, praise was few. He was critically evaluated for much of his career, at least by Brazilians.
His early efforts at Santa Cruz were inconsistent, and he rapidly became the club’s scapegoat. He was used as a makeweight in a player trade with second-tier Sao Paulo side Mogi Mirim. Former Santa Cruz president Joao Caixeiro dubbed it “the worst contract in club history.”
Rivaldo spent four years winning awards but not general acceptance.
How Did Rivaldo Footballer Star Rise?
Rivaldo won the 1994 Brazilian league title with Palmeiras after leaving Sao Paulo. Despite his consistency, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira believed the 22-year-old was “too egotistical” and “unreliable” and kept him at home when Brazil won the World Cup in 1994.
Rivaldo made the national team for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 after Parreira left. But he was once again blamed. With 12 minutes left in the semi-final against Nigeria, he lost possession in midfield and the Africans scored. In the changing rooms, Rivaldo broke down after missing a fantastic chance to score.
Coach Mario Zagallo, who led Brazil to the 1998 World Cup in France, publicly discounted Rivaldo’s chances. But he, like many others, had no idea what was going to happen.
Predictably, Rivaldo sought a move away from Brazil, but Palmeiras had already agreed to sell him to Parma before the 1996 Olympics. He ended up in Spain since he couldn’t agree on contract details.
Rivaldo footballer lasted in Galicia for one year, scoring 21 goals in 41 games as Deportivo rose from mid-table mediocrity to third in La Liga, tied with Barcelona.
His goals were not just prolific, but varied. And a cheeky Panenka penalty that almost went horribly wrong. No one in his family had seen the game because Brazilian TV only showed Barca and Real Madrid.
Rivaldo was ready to make the transition when the Catalan giants decided to pay his four billion peseta release clause (about £32m today).
How Rivaldo Ruled Europe
Between 1997 and 2002, he ruled Europe and the world with pace, power, magnetic control, and a limitless variety of technical perfection.
He paired perfect assists with pirouettes and scored an unimaginable number of wonder strikes. A week later, he scored from halfway again for Mogi against Atletico Madrid.
He scored 130 goals for Barcelona, winning La Liga twice, the Copa del Rey, and the Ballon d’Or and Fifa World Player of the Year in 1999. A hat-trick against Valencia in 2001 outdid it all.
Barca needed a win to qualify for the Champions League. His first goal was a free-kick that sailed inside the post, and his second was an unstoppable long-range drive. His third goal, with two minutes left, came from another planet.
World Cup 1998
Rivaldo footballer scored three goals for Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final, which they lost to France. He scored a brace in the final to win the 1999 Copa America and was named player of the tournament. He scored five goals in Brazil’s first five games at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
Rivaldo’s career brought him to Greece, Uzbekistan, Angola, and back to Brazil after a brief stint with AC Milan. He won the 2003 Champions League on penalties against Juventus at Old Trafford.
He retired in 2015 with legendary stories about his football career.