Rivaldo, Brazil's yet another football genius

Rivaldo was deceptively quick, superb at dribbling, often using sideways step overs and feints to fool defenders, and possessed the supreme ability to drill low, powerful shots from seemingly any distance with his left foot.

In the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea-Japan, he accounted for five goals.   -  AFP

Rivaldo turned out for Brazil in just two World Cups – 1998 and 2002. But the Brazilian legend made his mark in both.

At France 1998, he scored three goals and in Korea-Japan 2002, he accounted for five.

Rivaldo never looked like a footballer let alone a flashy Brazilian one at that. While he walked, it often seemed like he was lumbering along. He had bandy legs with unusually long limbs and moved with an element of stiffness.

 

Yet, when it mattered, he was deceptively quick, superb at dribbling, often using sideways step overs and feints to fool defenders, and possessed the supreme ability to drill low, powerful shots from seemingly any distance with his left foot.

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The best example of the last of these characteristics was the winner he scored against Denmark in Brazil’s 3-2 quarterfinal win in 1998. There were also the curling free-kicks and a unique penalty-taking routine wherein his run up comprised of just one step.

The period across the two World Cups was when Rivaldo was at his absolute peak both for club and country. In fact, in 1999, he won both the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or. Some even called him the most unstoppable footballer since Diego Maradona.

However, Rivaldo often sullied his image by play-acting. In Brazil’s opening match against Turkey in 2002, he feigned an injury by clutching at his face after Hasan Unsal had kicked the ball at his leg while he was waiting to take a corner. Even against England in the quarterfinal, even as he scored the equaliser with a stunningly precise finish, he was guilty of faking an injury. Yet when one looks back, it is his genius which sticks.

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