Barcelona Legend Rivaldo Announces Retirement at Age 41

Stuart NewmanFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2014

Getty Images

Today, we bid farewell to one of the finest footballers ever to play the game, as Brazilian genius Rivaldo announced his retirement, via an interview with FC Barcelona, from the game shortly before his 42nd birthday. 

The former Barcelona star broke the news via Instagram, with his emotional message causing lumps in throats all over the world as his 24-year career came to an end.

"With tears in my eyes today I would like first to thank God, my family and all the support, the affection that I received during those 24 years as a player. Today I communicate to all my fans in the world , my history as a player came to the end. Just I have to thank the lovely career I have built over this years. There were many obstacles, challenges, waivers, longings, disappointments, but were much greater joys, achievements, growth, change. Sometimes teaching other learning but never lost my focus, always with dedication, determination and direction of God. In this long journey, many people passed through my life, some for a period, other friends who remain until now. I built my career upon a miracle, leaving in Paulista, no financial resources, no businessman, incentives only of my family, discredited by doctors and trainers , saw a distant dream come true. With persistence, dedication and especially with the hand of God, I came to be recognized as the best player in the world, world champion, among many other important titles in the history of football. Among trophies, medals, awards and titles, in a land where everything is consumed, here I leave a story, perhaps an example, but surely a testimony that is worth believing and fighting. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Cor 9:25"

The fact the former FIFA World Player of the Year was still plying his trade professionally in his 40s speaks volumes; there simply aren't enough superlatives in the English language to describe his brilliance. Though his hip may not be as stable and his feet may not be as quick as they were in his prime, he's still spent the last few years of his career dancing circles around even the most sprightly of players in Brazil.

Having grown up in poverty, Rivaldo's remarkable rags to riches tale is inspirational, and one that sums up the determined, focused, passionate way he used to play the game. After signing his first professional contact at just 16 years of age for Paulistano, Rivaldo moved on to 14 different clubs and scored over 350 goals in his extraordinary career.

Rivaldo was an ever-present for Barcelona from 1997-2002, inspiring two La Liga titles and winning individual honours galore, but it was at the World Cup in 2002 where the midfielder really showed his class.

Alongside Ronaldinho and Ronaldo, Rivaldo electrified the world in Japan and South Korea and led Brazil to their fifth, and last, World Cup with five goals and endless top-drawer performances.

His retirement marks the end of an era, but the amazing contribution he's had to football means he can now sit with his talented feet up and say: "job done!"

"With tears in my eyes today I would like first to thank God, my family and all the support, the affection that I received during those 24 years as a player"—and we, Rivaldo Vitor Borba Ferreira, thank you.