"In my time, quality of players was better", says Rivaldo

Rivaldo, 44, lamented the fact that football was not the same anymore. "In my time the quality of the players was better, more quantity of good players. Football has changed a lot. It was hard when I played five years (at Barcelona). The game has changed."

Rivaldo was in the country as a part of football-promoting venture by Delhi Dynamos.

Rivaldo, a super finisher with the left foot, from close and far, a striker in the disguise of an attacking midfielder, graced the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex here, part of the football-promoting venture by Delhi Dynamos.

He spent time with some of the young footballers. Did it matter some of them had no clue who the lanky chief guest was. The world knew him as a lethal footballer, part of the Brazlian team that won the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

“Heard a lot about Indian football from Zico and Elano. They have been here before,” said Rivaldo. “You have to be dedicated, work hard and be more professional. India is a big country, if you work in a proper way, you can find good players in the future. Very important if you bring big players who can teach youngsters.”

Rivaldo, 44, lamented the fact that football was not the same anymore. “In my time the quality of the players was better, more quantity of good players. Football has changed a lot. It was hard when I played five years (at Barcelona). The game has changed.”

He reiterated a strict regime of training. “Skills is something you are born with, like Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo. You have to have fitness, you have to work and improve. Have to work on the physical and mental aspect the whole week to be able to play on Sunday.”

Rivaldo insisted that the coach can’t be blamed for a debacle. “Football is not tennis. We play as a group. Can’t blame one man. In 2002 everyone was a champion. In 2014, everyone was responsible for the result. That kind of result (in 2014 against Germany) happens once in 100 years.

The Brazilian observed that Neymar would emerge the best player in the world. “Neymar one day will become the best player in the world. He is making history in Barcelona and Olympics. He will be the best player in the world in the coming years.”

He showed the other side of his personality, the one that is concerned with social issues that impact his country’s image. “Before the Olympics I told people not to come to Brazil. Crime and politics in Brazil is bad. We have many problems that need to be addressed than building stadium. We need to build schools and hospitals to help poor people. Need to help them first. We have to have right priorities.”

How was it playing with the national team?“Ronaldo on my left and Ronaldinho on my right. It was easy to play.”

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