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Rivaldo - Overcoming Tragedy to be the Greatest

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Rivaldo may have suffered personal tragedy during his football career but that has not stopped him from becoming one of the world's greatest players.
Football supporters the world over delight in debating the same question: who is the world's greatest player. For many fans Vitor Borba Ferreira, otherwise known as Rivaldo, is the only player who merits this title.
If winners' medals are a deciding factor, there are numerous players with better claims to the title. But in terms of pure footballing genius - the ability to astound opponents and specatators with moments of spontaneous breathtaking skill, to score and create wondrous goals from virtually anywhere on the pitch - then Rivaldo is the only candidate.
Add triumph in the face of adversity to the equation and the man who followed such greats as Pele and Zico into Brazil's hallowed number 10 jersey becomes hard to overlook.
Like many before him, Rivaldo found in football a game he loved and a hope for salvation. Born into stark poverty, the hardship of his childhood almost ruined Rivaldo's dream. As a child he lost teeth decayed by malnutrition, and his poor diet left him dangerously thin, bow-legged and muscularly underdeveloped for his height. Crucially, he maintained the determination to succeed as a major footballer, despite the doubts of coaches at his first club Paulista who feared that he would be too frail to withstand the rigours of the professional game.
Tragically Rivaldo's father Romildo was killed in a road accident in 1989. Romildo had always encouraged his son to pursue his footballing dream and his death was a massive personal blow to Rivaldo at the time that his career was just beginning. Nevertheless he overcame both personal loss and his doubters to blossom very rapidly into one of the world's most exciting footballing talents.
Rivaldo - the complete package, and in the eyes of many, the world's best.


Mike Lee, April 2002


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