Soccer

Exclusive: FIFA World Cup winner and Ballon d’Or recipient Rivaldo on the Seleção

Rivaldo, the iconic FIFA World Cup winner and Ballon d’Or recipient, an inductee in the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame, officially named in the FIFA 100 greatest players of all-time by three-time FIFA World Cup winner, Pelé, remains as a national treasure in Brazil on many honorific accounts of his indelible legacy, namely the pinnacle of a spectacular international career as an integral member of the last Seleção team to date to win the prestigious FIFA World Cup, which triumphantly materialized 18 years ago at FIFA World Cup 2002 Korea/Japan when Luiz Felipe Scolari’s commanding Brazil side defeated Rudi Völler’s Germany 2-0 at International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan before 69,029 in the FIFA World Cup final courtesy of an inspirational second-half brace from Ronaldo.

Moreover, Brazil’s 2002 FIFA World Cup-winning team witnessed a highly rejuvenated 25-year-old Ronaldo, somewhat questioned by cynical critics leading up to the tournament, emerge universally vindicated and relatively born again, by furthermore earning the Golden Boot award due to scoring eight goals at FIFA World Cup 2002 Korea/Japan.
Rivaldo, who scored five goals at FIFA World Cup 2002 Korea/Japan, finished second behind Ronaldo for the most goals scored at the tournament. The Seleção team, which emphatically emerged as world champions at FIFA World Cup 2002, also featured the likes of the aforementioned Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Dida and the criminally underrated Gilberto Silva; Rivaldo was a runner up four years earlier with the Seleção at FIFA World Cup 1998 courtesy of Brazil losing 3-0 to France.

Rivaldo, who scored 35 international goals for Brazil, throughout a 10-year span between 1993 to 2003, won 74 caps with the Seleção.
However, Rivaldo, who conjured history again, albeit 13 years later, under chiefly more sentimental and patriarchal circumstances, when aged 43, notably 24 years after his professional football debut with Santa Cruz in 1991 in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série B, played and scored alongside his son, Rivaldinho, then aged 20, in July 2015, as Mogi Mirim defeated Macae 3-1, to elicit worldwide headlines; Rivaldo was instrumental in all three goals in Mogi Mirim’s victory against Macae.

Rivaldinho, 25, currently of Casa Liga 1 club Viitoral Constanța, has been directly involved in 13 goals (nine goals and four assists) this season for Gheorghe Hagi’s side, which currently competes in Romania’s top flight.

Most recently, Rivaldinho scored twice for Viitorul Constanța in their 5-0 win against Academica Clinceni at the Stadionul Viitorul in Ovidiu.

Meanwhile, Rivaldo, who currently resides in Miami, Florida, maintains his focus on health and fitness daily with the esteemed 48-year-old Receife-born legend working out daily in his personal home gym.

The FIFA World Cup winner, FC Barcelona’s ninth all-time leading goalscorer in the highly decorated 120-year history of the Catalan giants, with 137 goals for Barça, additionally currently stands second on FC Barcelona’s all-time list of goalscorers in international competition with 31; Lionel Messi leads FC Barcelona with goals in international competition (131) with Luis Suárez presently third on the list with 29.

Throughout the decorated Brazilian’s very memorable five-year tenure with FC Barcelona, from 1997 until 2002, Rivaldo triumphantly won two La Liga titles, the Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Super Cup.
However, FOX Sports Radio 96.9FM/1340AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with FIFA World Cup winner and Ballon d’Or recipient, Rivaldo, one of the greatest players of all-time, to discuss his legendary career, his beloved son, Rivaldinho, his opinion on the greatest Head Coach during his Seleção career, coupled alongside the Ballon d’Or recipient sharing his thoughts on his relationship to this day with FC Barcelona supporters.

Dean Perretta: Rivaldo, as a national hero in Brazil, can you explain more about your humble origins growing up and how it motivated you greatly to succeed?
Rivaldo: It isn’t easy to become a successful football player in Brazil, especially because I was very poor and had to work a lot and sacrifice myself to arrive at the top.
Dean Perretta: Throughout your illustrious career with the Seleção, who was the greatest Head Coach which you played under for Brazil, and why?

Rivaldo: I had many good coaches in my career (with Brazil) but, of course, the one that comes first in my mind is Felipão (Luiz Felipe Scolari) because it was with him that Brazil won it’s fifth World Cup in 2002.

Dean Perretta: Elsewhere, as it relates to your relationship with your beloved son, Rivaldinho, currently of Casa Liga 1 club Viitoral Constanța, can you talk about his success in Romania and his football education under the legendary Gheorghe Hagi?

Rivaldo: My son is doing very well this season with nine goals and four assists (for Viitorul Constanța). I have no doubts that Hagi makes him improve a lot. Viitorul has a good team with many talented players. For me, they are the team that plays the best football in the (Romanian) league.

Dean Perretta: With regards to being an integral member of Brazil’s FIFA World Cup 2002 winning team, the last Seleção team to date to be crowned World Champions at a FIFA World Cup tournament,  can you talk about the spirit and quality of the Brazil FIFA World Cup squad of 2002 compared to the Brazil team which were, unfortunately, runners up four years earlier at France ’98?

Rivaldo: Both of them are very, very good squads. Unfortunately in ’98, we lost the final (3-0 to France), but we played very well. In 2002 (in Korea and Japan), it was amazing. Seven games, seven victories. I scored five goals (for the Seleção at FIFA World Cup 2002). Thank God that after the second place (at France ’98), four years later we had the chance to bring the trophy to our country and make millions of people happy.

Dean Perretta: Lastly, as it relates to FC Barcelona, can you talk about your proudest moments in Catalonia and the relationship you have with Barça fans even today?

Rivaldo: In Barcelona, I had my best years. It was amazing – the club, city and especially the fans. I feel very happy when I receive messages from (Barça) fans. It’s a pleasure to look backward and see that I’ve made a good and memorable job there (In Catalonia). The love and respect they have for me are incredible.
Dean Perretta
Dean Perretta is a 2x SEA Award-winning creative, Broadcast Journalist, Reporter, Courtside Analyst for BBC televised London Lions and Executive Producer who currently contributes to FOX Sports Radio, FourFourTwo Magazine and Muscle & Fitness Magazine.