Five-time world champion and with a rich history in football, Rivaldo keeps following the Brazilian team and the news involving the great players of today. The former player granted an exclusive interview to Sports Gazette to talk about the most varied subjects about the world of the ball and remember some important moments in his career.
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During the conversation, Rivaldo praised Willian, who was recently hired by Corinthians in one of the most anticipated deals in this last transfer window. According to the ace, the former Arsenal player is fully capable of putting on the Brazilian national team’s shirt again and helping Timão on the field.
In addition, Rivaldo showed frustration for his time at São Paulo in 2011, when he did not receive as many chances to play as he expected. “I did my best, but I didn’t have opportunities. Criticism came my way for nothing, I didn’t play and had no sequel. In my time, there was a lot of that, they criticized me and looked at my age. That was my sadness, but the fans of the São Paulo supported me the entire time,” said the former player and currently the ambassador for the Betfair.net.
Sports Gazette – Brazil is now in the qualifier and next year has another World Cup ahead. How do you rate Tite’s work so far?
Rivaldo – Tite’s evaluation is more positive than negative, for games, victories. Of course, criticism will always exist, people start to say that the victories are only at the clubs, but there are few games to evaluate in the Seleção, counting friendlies and competitions that Brazil plays. Of course, the Seleção lost some matches, but they’re football stuff. Tite is positive and I believe he has to go to the Worlds, try to win. Of course, if he gets there and doesn’t win, he’ll have a challenge, there will be two Cups and no conquests, but now is not the time to want to take the coach out, the atmosphere is not good. That happened in 2002 and it worked, but it’s not always like that. When you have a formed team, with a coach with working time, it makes it much easier. I believe he has to stay until the end to get this title.
Gazeta Esportiva – And on Sunday there is the re-edition of the Copa América final between Brazil and Argentina… What is your expectation for the match?
Rivaldo – This game will be tough as it always is, but I believe Brazil is the favorite, despite having lost the Copa America final. Brazil has great players and I believe they will play a good game and get the victory. The team is practically qualified for the Worlds, it’s playing calmly and looking for victory. Forget what’s happened and do everything to win.
Gazeta Esportiva – You had a very special moment in Brazil and Argentina, which was the friendly that ended 4-2 for Brazil, at Beira-Rio, in 1999. You ended the match, scoring three goals. What was your feeling at that moment and how much is that game in your memory?
Rivaldo – Talking about Brazil and Argentina brings back many good memories. There was this game in Porto Alegre, in which I scored three goals, a feat that only Ronaldo and Pelé achieved. I am honored with this, this feat is not easy. It was a friendly, there were two games, we lost the first in Argentina 2-0 and in Porto Alegre we got a 4-2 and I was fortunate to be on an inspired day. There were three goals and I had a disallowed one, which was not offside. When talking about Brazil and Argentina, it is impossible not to remember this historic moment in my life.
Gazeta Esportiva – There is a lot of debate about the level of Brazilian players today in relation to other periods of glory in Brazil. How do you evaluate the players who currently defend the Brazilian team?
Rivaldo – They are good players. I always say that Brazil needs to have a player with more personality. They are players who work very well at clubs, but they need more personality, like Neymar. Neymar is not afraid of anything, he goes up there, he wants to win the game anyway. I feel that Brazil needs to have a player with the same spirit as it, fighting to do “something more”, not just leave the responsibility on him. In my time we had me, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho Gaucho and others who showed up to make “that smoke”, so that the other teams respected us. That’s what’s missing, for a Gabigol to do what he does at Flamengo in the Seleção, to have personality. He’s a great player, which I admire, but he has to get rid of his shyness. There are many shy players in the national team and there they have to go up there, play the same way they work at clubs, without fear. And the coach has to give that opportunity, that confidence to the player so that he can act as he works at the club. Sometimes the player enters already with the responsibility to score and if he doesn’t score, he ends up leaving the team. Put Gabigol and, if he doesn’t do it, put Firmino and still have Jesus, with the coach running them. You have to say “you are the man” and give confidence, which is not even done with Neymar. A football player needs the coach’s confidence, this vagueness harms the athlete.
Gazeta Esportiva – Speaking of Neymar, he will return to play alongside Messi, this time at PSG. Considering that he went to the French club in search of a bigger role, do you understand that the arrival of the Argentine star could end up taking the spotlight off the Brazilian?
Rivaldo – I believe that Messi’s arrival at PSG is positive for Neymar. Messi will help Neymar a lot, he will try to help him win the Ballon d’Or, because of the friendship they have. I think Messi is grateful to Neymar for this transfer to PSG, they are friends on and off the pitch. It’s important for you to be the best in the world, so Messi being six times, going to seven, will help Neymar to achieve this. Messi’s going there is good.
Gazeta Esportiva – On the other hand, there is Barcelona, a club you know so well… How is Barça’s situation without its great star? What are the prospects for the future?
Rivaldo – In terms of Barcelona, the club will have to follow. I believe Barcelona will find it difficult at first, but it will be a strong Barça. The players will unite and show that the team does not depend on Messi, that the group is strong. This happens in clubs, a star comes out and the group unites. I believe this will be a great season for Barcelona, I see many people doubting it, but I believe the club will go far in both the Champions League and the national championship.
Gazeta Esportiva – Brazilian football is going through a time when many players established in Europe have returned to Brazil. The most recent case is that of Willian, who returned to Corinthians after good seasons in England. How do you evaluate Willian’s arrival at Timão?
Rivaldo – I believe that Willian’s return to Corinthians is good for the player himself, who is 33 years old and has the possibility of playing for the Seleção. Daniel Alves is 38 and is doing it, he was Olympic champion. Willian has time and coming back, with this thought of wearing the national team’s shirt, he can achieve this. He is an athlete that Corinthians needed, he plays a lot, so I believe he is thinking of doing something different so that he can have the chance to be called up again. If the national team coach gives an opportunity to older players, he has that chance too. Coming back to Brazil gives you this possibility, especially when you are not in such a good situation in Europe. He knows the pressure from Corinthians, but he has great football and could return to the national team.
Gazeta Esportiva – In 2011, something similar happened in Brazil, with the arrival of Ronaldinho Gaúcho at Flamengo and his time at São Paulo. How was your period in the Tricolor Paulista?
Rivaldo – I returned to São Paulo in 2011 and was 38 years old. I was still feeling really good, but I didn’t have many opportunities to play. The fans of São Paulo always supported me in every game, shouted my name, wanted me to play. Every time I played I tried to do my best, but I didn’t get that many opportunities. Today we see Daniel playing all the games at this age and when I went to São Paulo they didn’t put me to play. The coach didn’t put me on, even with the support of the fans. It even left me out of the pack and that was sad. I felt good in training, I was fine, but I played very little. There were always two, three from the press who criticized me. Today you see Daniel Alves playing the Olympics at 38 years old, acting calmly. Baby, others… And nobody says anything, because they are playing. I did my best, but I didn’t have opportunities. Criticism came my way for nothing, I didn’t play and had no sequel. In my time there was this a lot, they criticized me and looked at my age. That was my sadness, but the fans of São Paulo supported me the entire time. The coach, Carpegiani at the time, didn’t put me on the line, and I was very sad. My age bothered me, people saw me as someone who had to stop, today the treatment is different. Age has nothing to do with it, the coach’s confidence is the difference.
Gazeta Esportiva – Continuing in Brazil and going to Palmeiras, another club you played, how do you rate Abel Ferreira’s work at the club? Even with important titles, he still suffers from some criticism…
Rivaldo – Abel is doing an excellent job, with titles, semifinal now in Libertadores. It’s fine, I hear some criticism when he says something about cheering, but his work is excellent. He came, it worked, he “married” Palmeiras. Congratulations, now fighting for another final. You just have to be careful what you say, because sometimes people can interpret it differently. It’s successful, it searches for a title, it’s not easy, especially when it comes to a Portuguese who came from Greece, it’s not easy.
Gazeta Esportiva – About Libertadores, do you have any forecast? Is there a favorite among the clubs classified in the semifinals of the competition?
Rivaldo – Difficult. It’s Atlético-MG, Palmeiras and Flamengo, with all due respect to the other opponent (Barcelona-EQU), but it’s difficult for them to advance. Will stay in Brazil, but difficult to talk about favorite. Everyone is well. Whoever wins will be deserved, they are big clubs and everyone deserves to play in the final.
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