FIRSTLY - Apologies for the legnth, I got started and couldnt stop lol. Someone may find the time or interest to read it, I doubt it though lmao!
Here is my personal tribute to one of the greatest footballers ever in my opinion. More commonly known as simply "Romario", he was a household name in the 90's until he left Europe to return home to play out his career in Brazil longside Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush, he is my all time favourite striker. Its a pity he has, for the most part (bar a season playing for Valencia) stayed away from European football since 1994, it has meant that he has been hidden in Brazil and never seen by many in outside world, except on the international level.
He has been called controversial and irresponsible, labelled a troublemaker and a womaniser. Romario has been called many things but he is, above all, a soccer legend, an sheer genius, of the kind that only Brazil seems capable of producing.
One of the greatest, most naturally gifted and most prolific strikers ever to grace this earth, he may hit 1000 career goals this weekend.
I am have been a HUGE fan of Romário since his Barca day's, watching him is literally like watching magic take place in front of your very eyes. He doesnt have the out and out skill of players like Ronaldinho, but the one thing he does have, is exactly, what he needs as a striker. The ability to create goals from nothing, literally. The ability to win games for teams when they playing utter crud. The ability to terrorise opposition defences, just from the mere mention of the name Romário on the teamsheet!
I am sad to see that this exceptional feat has gone pretty much totally un-noticed except by his current club, Vasco Da Gama, and one of his former clubs, PSV Eindhoven. The guy is an absolute genius, and soon he will retire, as his plan has been to reach 1000 goals, a mark only achieved previously by the great Pele. For league games only he has scored 737 goals against Pele's 720 goals, and also has a higher overall goal:game ratio then the man many people agree was the greatest striker ever.
Here is an overview of some of his career statistics and achievements:Notable goal records
- 71 goals in 84 games for Brazil
- 316 goals in 400 games for Vasco Da Gama
- 98 goals in 109 games for PSV Eindhoven
- 202 goals for Flamengo (hard to establish how many games, its around the 240 mark)
- 34 goals in 46 games for Barcelona
- And so many more I cba mentioning them all!Notable Cup Wins & Personal Titles
- 1994 FIFA World Cup + Player Of The Tournament
- 1994 World Player Of The Year
- 1988 Olympic Games Silver Medal
- 1994 Spanish League Top Scorer
- 1989 and 1991 Dutch Cup Winner
- 1989, 1991, 1992 Dutch League Winner
- 1994 Spanish League Winner
- 1990 and 1993 European Champions League Top Scorer
- 1997 Confederations Cup Top Scorer
- 1988 Olympic Games Top Scorer
- 1986, 1987, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 2000 and 2005 Brazillian League Top Scorer
- And on and on and on and ariston....
Unfortuatly, after an exception 1994 World Cup triumph scooping the Player Of The Tournament award, and an exceptional year all round in which he won FIFA World Player of the Year, was the top Spanish League scorer, won the Spanish League title with Barcelona, his career was hampered by his dislike of the way managers (particuarly in Brazil) and the game itself was becoming so influenced by money.
Every single team he played for, he scored goal after goal after goal, but was simply too vocal with his opinions about the modern game and ended up being sold, way ahead of his time.
There is a reason why even today, Brazil fan's chant his name at international matches, and when Brazil play poorly, the Brazillian people and media alike campaign for him to be back in the team.
[youtube]gR8YwdzVaDg[/youtube]His top 20 Goals according to the Japanese, some of them he had absolutely no right to score, and yes, number 16 is against England in 1997.World Cup History - The Most Important Player For Brazil Since 1974 Full Stop
In the 1990 world cup, it was to the shock of many Brazillians, that he was left out of the Brazillian team. After all, a player who had been scoring goals for fun at every team he player for, for the past half a decade, well it would be.
In the 1994 world cup, Brazil had endured 20 whole years of pain, the self proclaimed home of the world cup had not been won since 1974. The qualification matches didnt go too well to begin with for Romario, he was not played and fell out with the then Brazil manager, Carlos Parriera, and was ultimately banned from taking any further part in the world cup qualifying series. However, fate was on his side, when Brazil lost for the very first time against Bolivia, and needed to win their final games against the tricky Uruguay to progress to the 1994 finals. This was the start of something huge. This was the first time the press and fans had called for Romário to be played without question, and everytime Brazil have struggled since, the name Romário comes to their lips. He was called up at the last minute, and scored both goals in a 2-0 win, to take Brazil to the 1994 World Cup.
Partnered with the quiet, but nevertheless talented Bebeto up front in attack, the combination seemed totally at odds on paper. But, it turned out to be the dream combination. With Carlos Dunga keeping control of the vocal Romário during the tournament, Bebeto and Romário absolutely terrorized opposition defences. Romário scored 5 goals during the torunament, and played in the memorable world cup final, where the game ended 0-0 and Brazil won on penalties, thanks to that fateful miss by Robert Baggio. Such was Romário's influence during the 1994 world cup, he was voted player of the tournament, and later that year world player of the year.
Funnily enough, at the 1994 world cup was a 16 year old player, who went by the name of Ronaldo. Move aside Bebeto, Edmundo and the like, because lurking in the background was the player set to become the new national team partner for Romário, every bit as exciting and prolific, a deadly combination that every single national team defence was fearing! In the 1997, both Romário and Ronaldo played against Australia in the confederations cup and both scored a hatrick. The scene was set for an explosive 1998 world cup!
Unfortunatly though (maybe fortunate for every other nation), 1994 was the last time the world ever got to see the great Romário on the biggest stage in international football. But this was far from his final input into Brazil's destiny and success at future world cups.
Just weeks before the 1998 world cup finals, it was revealed that Romário, had picked up a supposed muscular injury during training. In tears, the man attended a press conference, in which he expressed his deep sadness at not being able to be included in the Brazillian squad. However, fan's and the media back in Brazil new better. It was no co-incedence that the coach, Mario Zagallo had fallen out with Romario publicly just months prior to the 1998 world cup (Zagallo had failed to see the funny side of a picture Romario had put up in his bar of Zagallo sitting on the loo lmao) and the fans and media knew damn well Romario was not injured. Although he has never revealed the true reason for not attending the 1998 world cup, its is believed by most people to be due to him being dropped rather then the injury.
Anyway, Brazil were left with an aeging, but once great team in 1998. With many players like Dunga, Bebeto, Leonardo, Mazinho in their 30's and veterans from previous world cups, they would always be a great team, but just didnt seem to have the killer edge that was needed to finish teams off. They reached the final where they would play France. But minutes before the match, Ronaldo, their only star striker with the absence of Romario, was taken ill with a siezure. He was forced to play the match (many believe due to a contract between the CBF and Nike) and was a shadow of the player everyone knew he could. As the match wore on, Brazil found themselves 2-0 down and in dire need of goals, in dire need of someone who could score goals. Bebeto was too old and tired around the 60 minute mark, Ronaldo may as well have not turned up. They looked to the bench and the only option available was Edmundo. Whilst he was an excellent striker, and did score goals, he had spent a lot of time in prison in recent year because he was found guilty of manslaughter. Brazil needed someone else and they knew it. Every brazillian fan in the Stade De France was chanting for Romario as they watched in disbelief as their team was left reeling in a 3-0 defeat. It was not only a defeat, but it was maybe the one thing that proved everyone right, Romario was the most important man in Brazillian football since 1974.
In the lead up to the 2002 World Cup, Brazil were left struggling to qualify, thanks to defeats by Argentina, Columbia and Ecquador. They needed goals and they needed them fast. And once more, Romario was called upon to provide them. And provide them he did. Romario helped the team avoid missing the world cup finals, and in the end they finished just 3 points ahead of Uruguay and Columbia, and therefore narrowly avoiding not qualifying for the world cup. In his exploits, he managed to score 7 goals for Brazil helping towards the 2002 qualifications. He was not taken to the World Cup final's, because at the age of 36, the coach deemed he was too old. The whole of Brazil wanted Romario to at least be named in the squad, as they knew how special he is. But it was not to be. Fortunatly for the coach, Brazil brought home the World Cup, otherwise there would have been a national outcry in Brazil.Bowing Out
On the 28th April 2005, at the age of 39, Romario played his final game for Brazil, in a 3-0 victory over Guatemala. He was only on the pitch for 38 minutes, but you guessed it, he managed to score a goal. As he sung the national anthem, his eyes flooded with tears. As he left the pitch after 38 minutes (he was carrying a slight injury and was only supposed to play 20 minutes, but he ignored calls from the coach to come off), he walked around the stadium thanking the fans, who had supported him with all the will in the world over his career spaning two decades. He recieved a stunning guard of honour as he finally left the pitch, from some of the most famous to grace the Brazillian international team, and most of his 1994 world cup winning team mates. Again he was in tears, he knew it was the end and he knew he wouldnt do it again.
He then made himself one last target... the most impressive target anyone could ever imagine. A target many believe even he could not achieve. He wanted to do something that only the greatest man before him had ever achieved. He wanted to break the 1000 barrier, and nobody and nothing was going to stop him.
And here we are today. Last weekend saw him score goal number 999. 1000 is within sight, it will be broken. And he will be only the second man after Pele to break it.
I think a quote from Diego Maradonna sum's up just how great the guy really is:
Former Argentina international player Diego Maradona, in his autobiography Yo soy El Diego, described Romário as an "incredible finisher" adding that he had not seen a striker like him, and mentioning that Romário would be in his all-time "dream team" without any hesitation.
Like Muhammad Ali, Romario was able to change styles mid-career. The post-comeback Ali reacted to the decline in leg power by inventing his more static 'rope-a-dope' style.
When Romario could no longer burst past defenders he became a master at finding space at the far post. It has been a privilege to watch him but perhaps it would have been better if he had stayed a few more seasons in Europe.
At the time of his return he was the biggest name in football, Barcelona's top striker and the star of the 1994 World Cup. Coming back to Brazil was the soft option. He was not pushed, he trained only when he wanted to and when he believed that he could get by on natural talent alone.
Had he stayed longer in one of the major leagues, playing with other great players in packed stadia, he would surely have been forced to push himself to the limit.
As it is, in 50 years football historians will probably see Romario as a footnote in between the eras of Pele and Ronaldo. But those who saw him will know that the genius of Romario deserves something better.