rivaldo, ronaldo, ronaldinho, Kabuscorp, Angola, pakistan football, umaid wasim, El Periodico, messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Palmeiras, Mogi Mirim, Zinedine Zidane, Ballon D’Or, Deportivo La Coruna, Rossoneri, AC Milan, Olympiakos, AFC Champions League, AEK Athens, Sao Paulo, Bunyodkor
Photo courtesy rivaldooficial/Instagram

Before Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho, it was Rivaldo who ruled the Nou Camp.

And it is incredible that the bow-legged Brazilian is still playing professional football —that too at the ripe old age of 40.

However, it’s a far cry from the heady heights of Barcelona. The 2002 World Cup winner is plying his trade in Angolan club Kabuscorp.

In January this year, Rivaldo left his homeland to move to the unfashionable African side in a deal that surprised many. The reason he gave was even more surprising; attributing his move to a ‘call from God’.

His aim is to serve God and the suffering people of Angola, a country which is struggling to rebuild after years of civil war.

On October 18, he will be opening a new evangelical church he has built ‘to help those most in need, as in Brazil’.

“I went there because it was also an opportunity, not just football, but with a religious side. I am evangelical and believe much in God,” Rivaldo told Spanish newspaper El Periodico in an interview last week.

Others see it differently, calling it Brazil’s soft politics in the African country.

Rivaldo might have moved to an Asian club when he left Brazilian giants Sao Paulo and guarantee himself a fat paycheck. But he’s investing in Angola.

Rivaldo has purchased a large piece of land in Luanda and he plans to develop it in the following years and the target audience is Angola’s small but growing middle class.

He has set up his institute Rivaldo10 and has already asked players like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to help in his social project.

Whatever the motive may be, Rivaldo is certainly helping football grow in Angola while helping Kabuscorp, a club founded only in 1994, stamp their authority in the country’s top division.

They currently lie third, and their rise has been aided by Rivaldo scoring crucial goals in the last eight months.

Despite many of the players of his era having retired, Rivaldo says he is fine and “two kilos underweight than he was in Barcelona [for whom he played from 1997-2002].”

At present, he is not sure if he will continue playing next season but even if he does, he will leave a lasting legacy.

Having made his professional debut in 1991 for an unglamorous Santa Cruz FC in his hometown, he joined Mogi Mirim before finally landing at Corinthians a season later.

But it was his stint at Palmeiras which captured the attention of European clubs.

53 goals in 126 games brought along a move to Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna and a season and 21 goals later, Barca came calling.

In his element, Rivaldo packed power and speed in a 6-foot-1 frame and combined those traits with creativity and sublime skill.

And he enjoyed considerable success. Two league titles came along with the 1999 Ballon D’Or.

There is little doubt that at the turn of the millennium, he was the best player in the world alongside Zinedine Zidane, commanding an invincible aura that Ronaldinho, who eventually succeeded him in the play maker role at the Catalan club, and Messi, currently, enjoy.

The crowning moment of his career came in the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan where he alongside Ronaldo and Ronaldinho formed a fearsome attacking trident that guided Brazil to ultimate glory.

Following that success, Rivaldo bade farewell to the Nou Camp faithful to join Italian giants AC Milan.

He won the 2003 UEFA Champions League with the Rossoneri but he was a bit-part player during their European campaign.

He left Milan in 2004 and spent four years in the European backwaters of Greece — first at Olympiakos and then at AEK Athens.

He left for Uzbek side Bunyodkor in 2008 in another surprising move and although he was superbly consistent for the club, he came narrowly short of landing Asia’s top club prize — the AFC Champions League — in his two years at the club.

While many thought he would retire after the stint in Uzbekistan, he returned to Brazil and played a full season at Sao Paulo.

The move to Kabuscorp reflects his taste for the exotic.

He feels at home in Angola and even if he doesn’t turn up for Kabusorp next season, his social projects will keep him connected to the African country.

One wonders if some footballer will ever do that for Pakistan — a country torn by conflict.

It’s a long shot, but how about Ronaldinho?

 


Umaid Wasim is an international football journalist from Pakistan. His dream is to one day see Pakistan on the global football map.

 

 


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Updated Oct 17, 2012 04:14pm

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Comments (12) (Closed)


haris
Oct 17, 2012 12:43pm
"One wonders if some footballer will ever do that for Pakistan — a country torn by conflict." Why not the Cricketers? Imran Khan has shown his commitment by building Hospitals and a University. Why not others coming forward?
Hasan
Oct 17, 2012 01:52pm
Dear Umaid, Rivaldo's primary motive is to build a church there, will we let anyone do the same in Pak?
A. Khan
Oct 17, 2012 01:52pm
As Rivaldo has said as much, football is secondary, his main reason is evangelizing. Why would any footballer risk life and limb to come to Pakistan if the motivation was to spread Christian faith ? Although I appreciate Rivaldo's initiative, I wouldn't want anyone to come to Pakistan in good faith and be attacked, even if the goals are noble.
Imran
Oct 18, 2012 05:54am
It will take 500 years for any Pakistani to take such step. Its not only a person, rather its mindset. Some people are still trying to find ways, how to degrade the Great Malala and compare her with confirmed terrorist. Winner is the Western values and how they teach their people to become Good citizens not only for their country but for whole of Humanity.
Zahid Gix
Oct 18, 2012 05:55am
well said
Waqar
Oct 18, 2012 04:46pm
i am not seeing football in Pakistan in upcoming 50 yrs ,, our governance didnt allow to play any thing except cricket,,, ,, even hockey is not being got their peak after 1994 due to bad & corrupted governance.. i think the media also dont play its role...
Mushtaq
Oct 17, 2012 10:51pm
We are a nuclear armed Nation....why on earth are we crying about getting international support for our problems. When Pakistan rises, I'd rather have it done by the might of its citizens than beg for international sympathy. Pakistan at the moment needs a bigger revolution than the one in Egypt to plunge the militants and the corrupt in the hole. Political columnists must help the nation visiolize that need rather than hell bind 190M people to foreign alms.
Mansoor
Oct 17, 2012 07:53pm
One , Pakistan is not Angola. Two, Pakistan doesn't need anymore religious nuts. Three, your article doesn't make sense.
A. Khan
Oct 17, 2012 06:36pm
You missed the point. Imran Khan is Pakistani. However, Rivaldo is Brazilian but working/helping/evangelizing in Angola, a country riven by conflict. Instead of killing people, our Muslims brethren should be working in remote areas of Africa to spread the faith through personal example. Tablighi jamaat are way ahead of others in this respect. Although I disagree with their focus (on existing Muslims), but do appreciate the fact that they try and do their bit in a peaceful way.
Zahid Gix
Oct 17, 2012 04:04pm
After seeing what happened to the Srilankan team in 2009, who on earth would dare come to Pakistan for such an adventure. It would be a great blessing if we could even revive International cricket in Pakistan within the next 5 years.
bushra
Oct 17, 2012 02:07pm
Why should some footballer come and help Pakistan? Why do we always want to be the victims and look up for help. When are we going to stand on our feet and actually help ourselves. Malala is a shining example of that. We Pakistani's have shown huge talent in the world, so why arent we willing to build up our own country with our own hands. It has to be us willing to change ourselves and not some outsider such as a footballer. Do we want to be the great Pakistan or do we want to compare ourselves with countries such as angola? I think the above article is written by a person who just wants to be helped but doesnt want to do anything himself. It makes me angry.
haris
Oct 17, 2012 12:46pm
BTW I still sometime watch and cheers Rivaldo's era at Nou Camp ;-) His hat-trick with a masterfully architectural Low-Free kick against AC Milan in Champions League tie has a lasting impression on everybody. grrrrrrr! Why he left FC Barcelona?