Brazilian Democratic Labour Party politician and FIFA World Cup winner, Bebeto, an official ambassador of the international governing body of FIFA, most recently appeared as a special guest on the much-heralded InStat webinar, the Livestream series for the preeminent professional football data and analytics company, with his son, Sporting Lisbon playmaker, Mattheus Oliveira, who inspired his famous cradle rock goal celebration after scoring Brazil’s second goal in the Seleção’s 3-2 win against Dick Advocaat’s Holland at USA ’94, to discuss both his legendary trophy-laden career and his forthcoming endeavors on the impressive InStat webinar.
The revered 56-year-old Brazilian national hero, a Deportivo de La Coruña idol, who was the catalyst of a turnaround for the underachieving Galician club to emerge as La Liga title contenders, scored 86 goals in 131 games (0.65 goals per game average) for Deportivo during his very memorable four-year tenure with the Branquiazuis, remains as the Seleção’s ninth all-time leading goalscorer in history with 39 goals in 75 appearances (0.52 goals per game average) for Brazil in a 13-year international career which spanned from 1985 until 1998; Bebeto played in three FIFA World Cup tournaments (Italia ’90, USA ’94 and France ’98) and won the Copa America with Brazil in 1989 where he led the tournament with six goals, twice as many goals as Romário and two more goals than Uruguay star Rubén Sosa, formerly of Lazio and Internazionale.
Bebeto, whose legendary FIFA World Cup-winning partnership with fellow professional footballer turned politician, Romário, the former highly-rated PSV Eindhoven, FC Barcelona, and Vasco da Gama superstar, who was an influential teammate of Bebeto’s in Carlos Alberto Parreira’s efficiently pragmatic, defensive-minded Brazil side which triumphantly won the FIFA World Cup at USA ’94 in an otherwise anticlimactic stalemate after defeating Arrigo Sacchi’s Italy via penalties, has since witnessed the Brazilian join political alliances with Bebeto in Brazil’s centrist party Podemos.
Bebeto, who was officially elected to the legislative assembly of Rio de Janeiro in 2010 as a democratic Labour party member, was enshrined as a member of the Brazilian Museum Football Hall of Fame. The bedazzling Brazilian forward, who was twice named as the South American Footballer of the year, won 27 trophies in an illustrious 20 year professional football career, which spanned from 1982 until 2002.
The fifth of eight children, Bebeto had a relatively middle-class upbringing with the clean living, ever-smiling, Evangelical Christian growing up in Salvador.
After appearing on the esteemed InStat webinar, FOX Sports Radio 96.9FM/1340AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with FIFA World Cup winner, FIFA Ambassador, Brazilian Museum Football Hall of Fame member and Politician, Bebeto, to discuss his pride of his son, Sporting Lisbon playmaker, Mattheus Oliveira, the fundamental differences of playing alongside Romário and Ronaldo for Brazil at FIFA World Cup winner tournaments, coupled alongside the Brazil legend revealing more about his political career and the social initiatives of empowering the Brazilian youth via sports and education.
Dean Perretta: Bebeto, how would you describe the recent InStat webinar with your son, Mattheus Oliveira?
Bebeto: It was a very nice experience to participate. I love talking and discussing football, football is in my blood! And being able to do that with my son, Mattheus, was a real gift! It was a special webinar that I will remember fondly. I hope you had as much fun as we did.
Dean Perretta: In relation to the InStat webinar episode, can you talk about the positive influence that you had on your son becoming a professional footballer?
Bebeto: I always made my children feel free to choose, to follow whatever they wanted. I never put pressure on them to play football. But I always made it clear that I would support the decision they made. I admit that I was happy when my son (Mattheus) said he wanted to be a football player. I try to help whenever possible and give advice that can help in his development, and as I have experienced the day to day life of an athlete, I can guide him. I always passed on to him the importance of training, doing what you love, making sacrifices, and working hard. These are pillars that guided my career. Seeing what he has become, I can say that I am proud to have passed on these good values.
Dean Perretta: Having played with the following two Brazil legends, who was the better finisher in front of goal inside the penalty area in their prime and why – Romário or Ronaldo?
Bebeto: This is a complicated question. Both were great players, exceptional partners, and finishers. Very difficult to choose between one of them. Ronaldo was not so fixed inside the box, he moved more on the flanks since Romário was more forward, he was more fixed. One thing, however, was certain – both knew how to score. It’s a difficult choice, but I will choose Romário. I made a great partnership with Ronaldo, but with Romário (leading the frontline) we were champions in USA ’94, so I will choose him.
Dean Perretta: Can you talk about the missed opportunity and heartache of Brazil not winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup final against Zinedine Zidane’s France and, of course, what it would have meant if you had won two FIFA World Cup trophies in consecutive FIFA World Cup tournaments with Brazil?
Bebeto: I have memories of that final until today. When we started the World Cup (a tournament in France), we were united in order to bring another title to Brazil. The group (of players) was very good, quality to spare. We had a good competition until the final and many highlighted our team as a favorite. France had an excellent team and deserved to reach the final. Under normal conditions, it would be a balanced game, but unfortunately, Ronaldo’s situation tipped the scales. On the day of the final, witnessing Ronaldo convulsing, leaving the concentration to take exams, not receiving news during the preparation before the game, and then his arrival in the dressing room and asking to play, even after Edmundo was announced in the official (starting line-up for the matchday) squad was a blow to the group. All the concern we had about the game was directed to the wellbeing and health of Ronaldo. We were all sad and shaken by the events on the day of the final, and it ended up unbalanced. It was my last game for the national team. I did my best to be (selected) at the World Cup and I really wanted to end my career as a world champion again, but unfortunately, it didn’t work. Not to mention the merits of the French team, not least because I have friends there and the team was full of talent, but I think that under normal conditions the game would be different.
Dean Perretta: Lastly, can you reveal more about your political career in Brazil and the challenges of being a politician, especially after a highly successful career in professional football?
Bebeto: I joined politics because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to transmit the values I learned along with sports, especially for children and young people. I wanted to give access to sport and education, especially for children and youth in the community, who in many cases see in these the only way to escape the crime (in our country). I have always raised the flags of the importance of education and sport for people’s lives. I try to draft projects and laws that address these issues and help several other projects with this focus. Knowing that I can help in the future, these young people and children fill me with pride.