The 3Rs of Brazil – Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are still hailed as one of the best attacking partnerships the world has ever seen. More than a decade has passed since the Brazilian trio won the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are still in the limelight but Rivaldo, 43, who is still playing for a Brazilian second division side, hardly gets a mention.
Recently, Rivaldo put his foot in mouth and claimed that if at present he were in his prime, he’d win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Barcelona legend also questioned the standard of football and declared that he’d also be able to score 50 goals in a season.
He said: “Football today is very different from before. The quality was much better before, in Brazil and worldwide, such as Spain and Italy. You see how football is not good when [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the best today, are scoring 50 goals in the championship.
This shows that the level [of football] is lower. Even for the best in the world, you should not be scoring 50 goals in 38 games.”
Many have ridiculed the former Brazil international for his recent comments as Ronaldo and Messi are regarded as the extra terrestrials of this era and are even named alongside the greatest players of all times. But only a person who hasn’t watched Rivaldo can totally deride these comments as we believe Rivaldo could have easily scored more than 40 goals if he were in a team as good as Barcelona or Real Madrid
People certainly don’t realize how good Rivaldo actually was in his prime. Here’s his time line reminiscing one of the geniuses of modern football.
1972: Rivaldo Vitor Borba Ferreira, aka Rivaldo, was born in Pernambuco in Brazil and had an upbringing in the favelas of Recife.
1989: Rivaldo’s football career started in 1989, when he signed for Paulistano Futebol Clube at the age of 16 and he signed his first professional contract with the same club.
1991: The forward changed clubs and moved to Pernambuco-based outfit Santa Cruz.
1992: His tenure at Santa Cruz barely lasted a year when he moved to Mogi Mirim, who were playing in the second tier of Brazilian league football.
1993: Another switch happened in a year’s time and Rivaldo was off to Brazilian football giants Corinthians of Rio de Janeiro.
Rivaldo made his international debut for the Brazil national team and scored the match-winning goal in a friendly win over Mexico.
1994: The trend of changing clubs year continued and this time the young striker moved to Palmeiras.
The same year, Rivaldo won his first league title, helping Palmeiras to the Brazilian Serie A title in 1994. He also helped the Alviverde win the Campeonato Paulista in 1994.
1996: After the Atlanta Olympics, where Rivaldo represented the Brazil national team, he was expected to move to Parma, the club having announced his signing. But a dispute saw the forward moving to Deportivo La Coruna instead of Italy.
1997: Rivaldo scored 21 goals from his 41 games for Deportivo La Coruna and earned himself a move to Spanish giants Barcelona.
1998: In his first season at the Camp Nou, the Brazilian scored 19 goals in 34 matches to help the side claim a double of the league title and the Copa del Rey.
Rivaldo was part of the Brazil national team under Mario Zagallo and scored three times en route to the final against hosts France, where the South Americans lost the summit clash to a Zinedine Zidane-inspired Les Bleus.
1999: The forward helped Barcelona retain the league title with his 24 goals and scooped both the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or for his efforts.
His case for the individual honours was bolstered by his performances at the 1999 Copa America which the Selecao won as Rivaldo finished the tournament as the highest scorer with five goals.
2002: Louis van Gaal took charge of Barcelona in his second stint at the Camp Nou and Rivaldo, who had fallen out with the Dutchman in his first spell, swiftly moved to AC Milan.
His international career reached its peak when he helped Brazil win their fifth World Cup in South Korea/Japan.
2003: In his first season with Milan, he played an instrumental in securing the Serie A giants the Champions League and the Coppa Italia.
That same year, he played his last match for the Brazil national team in a 3-3 draw with Uruguay.
2004: The next stop in Rivaldo’s career was Cruzeiro and he subsequently moved to Greek giants Olympiacos after a brief spell in Brazil.
2005: The prolific marksman won his first title in Greek football in 2005 and went on to repeat the success in the following two years.
He also helped Olympiacos win the Greek Cup in 2005 and 2006.
2007 and beyond: The twilight of Rivaldo’s career resembled that of a journeyman footballer as he moved clubs with regularity. He played for A.E.K., Bunyodkor, Mogi Mirim, Sao Paulo, Kabuscorp and Sao Caetano before ultimately retiring in 2014.
2014: He announced his retirement from football at the age of 42, while playing for Mogi Mirim, the Brazilian Serie B club that he is the president of.
2015: With Mogi Mirim in trouble and facing relegation, Rivaldo has put on his playing boots as he attempts to secure their Serie B status.
Founder and editor of Footiecentral. A voracious reader who loves reading anything and everything related to the history of football. He’s an ardent supporter of Manchester United and rarely misses a match.