Rivaldo, 50, overcame doubts to become the best player in the world


Rivaldo Vítor Borba Ferreira turns 50 this Tuesday (19). Champion in several of the clubs he played for, the attacking midfielder had an excellent season in 1999, when he won the Ballon d’Or, offered by France Football magazine to the best player in Europe, and the FIFA World Player of the Year award.

The Pernambuco native, who would play an important role in Brazil’s victory in the 2002 World Cup, had his story told by Sheet at the time he received his greatest individual awards. To reach the top, he had to overcome the doubts that had accompanied him since he was the gangly boy called Vado. Check out the player’s profile published in January 2000 below:

In the village, only father bet on Rivaldo

Low popularity accompanies the best player in the world since the “peladas” on the outskirts of Recife

Fábio Victor
special envoy to Recife, 25.jan.2000

With the exception of Romildo Vitor Gomes Ferreira, the father, a football lover and a fanatical Santa Cruz supporter, no one ever had much faith that a skinny, gangly boy like that could succeed as an athlete.

In Vila da Chesf, municipality of Paulista, metropolitan region of Recife, “Vado”, nickname by which Rivaldo Vitor Borba Ferreira, 27, the best player in the world in 1999, is known to this day, has always had a reputation as a barely reasonable striker.

He was one of the boleiros who occupied the “eucalyptus field”, which later, with the eucalyptus trees laid to the ground, would come to be called Gonzagão – homage to the merchant who promoted deforestation and created the only leisure instrument for the small community of four streets, 139, 140, 141, and 142.

Brother Rinaldo, the neighbors pointed out, was, without a doubt, the star of the family.
When Rivaldo joined Santa Cruz, his first club, the discredit continued: first, he was released from the junior team. In the first games as a professional, he was booed by the crowd, ignored by the press and discredited by the managers, to the point of being included as a counterweight in an exchange with Mogi Mirim.

In his first big club, Corinthians, he suffered the reserve in several games.

And, already a football star, he was blamed for the failure of the Brazilian team at the Atlanta Olympics.

Even today, whether at Barcelona or the national team, the best in the world is not unanimous. His “calling to Judas” is greater than that of any other star.

Romildo’s third child with Marlúcia Salomão Borba –after Ricardo, 32, and Rinaldo, 31, and before Cristiane, 25, and Soraya, 22–, Rivaldo showed an extremely shy personality from an early age.

He didn’t go to parties, didn’t participate in teenage games and disdained Carnival.

At the Presidente Castelo Branco public school, which he attended up to the eighth grade, he was isolated.

“He was weak at reading aloud, he was nervous, his hand was cold. But he was a very well-behaved student, better than his brothers, and he had a very assiduous father”, recalls teacher Aliete Oliveira Vinezof, 43.

With women, the behavior was similar. “He was always the slowest with a girlfriend,” says his brother Ricardo.

Rose, a former supermarket cashier for Mogi Mirim, his wife since 1993 and mother of children Rivaldinho, 4, and Tamirez, 2, was his first girlfriend.

To make his future in football even more difficult, “Vado” was never one of those kids who think about football 24 hours a day.

He liked to beat his kicks, but he had a similar passion for birds and fighting cocks.

When he wasn’t playing, he took his grasshoppers and weepers to “camp”: he put the cage on his shoulder and went to show the birds the world.

The family’s money limitations meant that Rivaldo faced some “jobs” to complete the budget.

Along with colleagues, he traveled around Recife selling popsicles, coxinha, dream. His favorite place was Arruda stadium, where he combined the useful (selling his product) with the pleasant (watching Santa Cruz games, his favorite team).

Sometimes he weeded backyards in exchange for a few coins.

It was the father, who did not like to see his young children working, who took Rivaldo and his brothers to the Santa Cruz soccer school. He was the one who accompanied them, paid for the bus tickets, was interested in finding out about the latest training sessions.

“My father was very attached to us, he always encouraged Rivaldo”, says Ricardo.

“It was more like a couple in love. The two always walked arm in arm”, recalls Edigley de Souza Lima, 29, one of the best childhood friends.

Today, seeing “Vado” as the best in the world, he is amazed.

“I don’t think he even dreamed of reaching that high. He still can’t believe it, he must think he’s dreaming,” says Edigley, an unemployed goalkeeper.

He and Rivaldo went to train together at Santa Cruz, studied in the same class, they were inseparable. At Santa’s school, they were trained by Mário Santana, a former member of the Navy, who reinforced Rivaldo’s sense of responsibility and discipline.

The group of friends from Vila da Chesf was also formed by Róbson, who died about seven years ago, a victim of leptospirosis.

In an equally tragic way, Rivaldo had, on January 6, 1989, the greatest sadness of his life. His father left for work and never came back. The family was left without news at night and in the morning.
Only in the morning of the next day, neighbors heard on “Bandeira Dois”, the most popular police radio program in the state, and went to warn: Romildo had been run over by a bus, in the early afternoon of the previous day, on a busy avenue in the center of Recife. .

“He went crazy. At the funeral, he was stuck, without crying. He just looked, angrily”, says Ricardo.

The death of his father, which further worsened the family’s living conditions, can be seen as a watershed in Rivaldo’s career. If on the one hand it shook him deeply, at the same time it gave him more motivation.

(The Ballon d’Or won as the best European player in ’99 was dedicated to Romildo. When he scored a goal in Brazil’s friendly against Barcelona, ​​he showed off a shirt with his father’s portrait.)

And the first great trial came in the same year, a few months later. If Edigley said he was scared by Rivaldo’s rise, Roberto Madeira, 52, aka Betinho, was really surprised.

Attacking midfielder for Santa in the 70’s, he stopped playing in 82 and became coach of the club’s base divisions.

He commanded the junior team in 1989, when, in one of the “sieves” promoted at Arruda, he sent Rivaldo away.

“He was an intelligent player, but, due to his origins, because he was in need, he didn’t have the strength, the little kick was weak. There were more than 50 players, and, in a sieve, he was in the middle. “, justifies Betinho, who says he asked for Rivaldo to return to the team after he, disappointed, had gone to Paulistano.

“When we lost to Paulistano and he scored two goals, I asked: who is this compridão?” They discovered that a federation membership still bound him to Santa and took him back.

“Today I would sign a certificate of stupidity, but these are things that happen in a player’s life.”

After returning to the junior team, Rivaldo was coached by Ramon, a striker who played for Santa, Vasco and Inter-RS in the 70s.

Ramon says he was impressed with Rivaldo’s technical quality and discipline, but noted that the young striker didn’t have “organic structure” to establish himself among professionals.

In Arruda, about 25 km away from his home, he received a daily allowance corresponding to US$ 89.00 today.

“It didn’t do much good to do muscle strengthening, because the food he had at the club was precarious”, says Ramon.

Even so, the professional’s coach, Sérgio Cosme, decided to introduce him little by little into the team.
It had a lot of difficulties. With irregular performances, falling a lot on the field and tiring easily, Rivaldo became an immediate target of the crowd.

In a classic against Náutico for Pernambucano, on July 1, 1991, one of the few games he started as a starter, Rivaldo had the lowest rating of the match in the “Jornal do Commercio” evaluation. “Without any presence in the enemy area and still tired at the end”, read the comment that followed note 4.

It was in this scenario that another “late villain” of Rivaldo’s trajectory in Pernambuco emerged.

Director of Santa in 91 and friend of the president of Mogi Mirim, Wilson Barros, Jorge Ribeiro, Chacrinha, now a councilor of Recife (PMDB), was directly responsible for the negotiation that exchanged Rivaldo, Leto and Válber, the latter the main target of interest of the Mogi, for the side Malhado, the striker Pessanha and the defender Paulo Silva.

“It was the worst negotiation in the history of Santa Cruz”, says João Caxeiro, Santa Cruz’s patrimonial director, summarizing the sentiment of the current leaders.

Chacrinha, who had and still has the endorsement of the then president of the club, Raimundo Moura, defends himself by claiming that, at the time, no one – management, fans and the press – thought that way.

“We had a diamond in the rough, but we didn’t know it. If we had known that Rivaldo was the ace he is, we wouldn’t have made such an imbecility”, he says.

“He was stunted, thin, gangly, toothless (Rivaldo lost his front teeth early and got his first denture as a teenager), and Santa didn’t have the structure or money to change that. If he hadn’t gone to Mogi, today wouldn’t be the best in the world.”

The thesis is endorsed by Ramon and his friend Edigley, who condemns the hurt held by Rivaldo in relation to Santa for not being valued in the episode.

“I think he should thank Santa Cruz. If he lasted longer here, he would be in the same situation as I am today.”

In fact, at Mogi Mirim, which prioritized the formation of players, Rivaldo gained physical conditions to develop his technique and began to emerge.

Now a millionaire and famous, Rivaldo, from what you can see in Vila da Chesf, maintains his characteristic shyness, but he is the same “Vado” as always. “He hasn’t changed at all. He was always that there. He never had an enemy, only friendship”, defines Manacés Diniz, 35.

When on vacation in Recife, Rivaldo sleeps in his apartment on the beach in Boa Viagem, but spends his days in the village.

At the end of the year, he always participates in the Singles x Casados ​​match in the Gonzagão field. In the last tournament he participated, last year, his team was defeated on penalties – Rivaldo missed the last penalty.

As for the mother, it seems like the finished explanation for the shyness of the illustrious son. Marlúcia runs away from the press. She did not give in to the insistent requests for an interview from the Sheet. She was almost “forced” by her son Ricardo to pose for a photo.

Less incisive, the rest of the family also avoids the spotlight – requested by Rivaldo himself.

Recently, a councilor from Paulista proposed to baptize 140th Street, that of the Borba Ferreira family, with the name of Rivaldo’s father.

The player thanked and declined. He stated that he would only accept the tribute if, along with it, the clay streets of the village were paved, which has not happened until today.

The tribute to the father, however, will come from the children themselves, in the form of a school that has just been built on the corner of their house and which will be called Instituto Romildo Vitor. Ricardo, who takes care of Rivaldo’s business in Recife, will accompany the work of sisters Cristiane and Soraya.

With capacity for 80 students, the school will be inaugurated in February and will charge R$ 25.00 monthly fee -R$ 30.00 for those who need transportation.

Brother Rinaldo, the family star, after twisting his knee, quitting football and working for a few years as a security guard, is unemployed. He will help the sisters in running the new business.

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