Undoubtedly one of the biggest talents that has ever graced the football scene, Rivaldo went as far as winning the World Footballer Of The Year award in 1999, when he almost single-handedly led Barcelona to an impressive La Liga triumph, scoring some spectular goals along the way. His achievements obviously do not stop there, as he was also lucky enough to win several competitions and league titles with the clubs and the country he played for. Given his nomadic nature, it comes as no surprise that, amongst his collection of titles, a hattrick of Uzbek League winners’ medals shows up.
Over the course of his career, Rivaldo ended up making senior appearances for a total of 14 clubs. Many might not look at this Brazilian genius in such a way because his time at Barcelona was particularly defining for both the Blaugrana and himself. It was almost unfortunate or even potentially ironic that he won the Champions League, arguably the most iconic club title in world football, with AC Milan rather than with the club that defined his career. In five years at the club from Catalonia, he managed a rather underwhelming two La Liga titles and a Copa del Rey winners’ medal. However, he will be remembered, that is for certain.
Rivaldo left Barcelona for Milan in 2002, at the age of 30. He arguably spent his best years in Spain and experienced his pinnacle in the 1998/99 season. Prior to playing for Barca, the Brazilian had five clubs on his CV. Leaving the club at age 30, one would have thought that fewer than five were to follow, but Rivaldo ended up playing for no fewer than ten more clubs. In fact, he only ended his career in 2014, aged 41. The football Gods were kind to him and he was able to prolong his career due to the lack of any major injuries.
After his time at Barcelona, Rivaldo won an impressive six league titles in a row, three with Olympiacos of Greece and another three with Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan. Having turned into a football ambassador of some sorts, the Brazilian legend even ended up playing for Kabuscorp in Angola’s top division, scoring 11 goals in 21 appearances, an impressive feat for a 40 year-old. His career then came to an end slowly, when he returned to Brazil to play a few more games in the country’s second and third tier respectively. In March 2014, Rivaldo finally hung up his boots and allowed football’s historians to finally reminisce about incredible overhead kicks, partnerships with other greats and trophy lifts such as the 2002 World Cup.
Remembered by many for some arguably negative moments such as his play-acting at the 2002 World Cup to get his Turkish opponent sent off, there is no doubt that Rivaldo is one of the greats. Often, football nomads do not achieve such success, but in Rivaldo’s case, especially given the countries he ended up playing in, one could almost regard him as a football representative rather than a nomad focused on pay-outs. Will the football crowds in Angola ever be able to watch a World Cup winner score a hattrick in a league game again? We doubt it and that is why we love Rivaldo.