Rivaldo: His Greatest Moments and Accomplishments
“A forgotten Phenomenon” was how "In Bed with Maradona" characterized Rivaldo back in 2011.
At the time the Champions League, Copa America and World Cup winner was playing for Sao Paulo in his native Brazil, and the then-38-year-old was shortly expected to blow the whistle on an illustrious, if not understated career.
He played three years more.
It wasn’t until March 15 that Rivaldo finally retired—his teaming up with son Rivaldinho the final box to be checked on a lengthy to-do list that would see him represent 14 clubs all over the world.
“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 [for],” was the statement he posted on Instagram, as per Eurosport.
And for those who care to remember, he also leaves a collection of incredible moments and accomplishments from 23 years in professional football.
Following are his most notable.
15. Transfer to Deportivo La Coruna (1996)
But the deal fell apart, and La Liga’s Deportivo La Coruna swept in and acquired the Brazilian for £10.5 million (all transfer fees as per Transfermarkt).
Rivaldo would play the next 12 years of his career in Europe.
14. Brasileiro/Paulista Double (1994)
In 1994 the Brazilian championship consisted of three phases ending in a two-legged tie to determine the destination of the title.
That year the contestants were Sao Paulo archrivals Corinthians and Palmeiras, and after bagging a brace in Verdao’s 3-1 first-leg win, Rivaldo scored again in the return fixture as his side claimed the trophy.
Earlier in 1994 Palmeiras had won the Paulista state championship, so the Serie A win capped a memorable season for both Rivaldo and his teammates.
13. Olympiacos: Three Straight Titles and Some Individual Silverware (2005-07)
His goal against Iraklis the following spring secured the Greek giants the championship, and he would go on to help the side to an additional pair of titles before moving on in 2007.
He was also named the Greek league’s Best Foreign Player in 2006 and 2007.
12. Brace vs. Denmark (1998 World Cup)
Brazil’s 1998 World cup campaign would eventually unravel in the final against France, but two rounds before the 3-0 defeat Rivaldo delivered one of his many eye-popping international performances.
Twice he found the back of the net against Denmark, and his brace helped Brazil to the 3-2 win that would see them through to the semifinals of the competition.
11. UEFA Champions League Winner (2003)
Rivaldo’s lone, full season at AC Milan would have been rather forgettable had the Rossoneri not won the Champions League.
Although he remained on the bench through the 120 minutes of Milan’s 0-0 draw with Juventus at Old Trafford (the San Siro outfit won on penalties) he made 13 appearances during the tournament and scored a pair of goals.
10. 2-1 over Argentina (1999 Copa America)
Big performances against Argentina are typically required for the making of a Brazilian football icon, and in 1999 Rivaldo helped put his country’s archrivals out of the Copa America while foreshadowing some memorable international moments to come.
Juan Pablo Sorin had opened the scoring for La Albiceleste in the 10th minute, but shortly after the half-hour mark Rivaldo equalised—setting the stage for Ronaldo’s 48th-minute winner.
9. La Liga/Copa Del Rey Double (1997-98)
Rivaldo’s first season at Camp Nou was a memorable one.
He finished second to Atletico Madrid’s Christian Vieri in La Liga scoring with 19 goals, and by season’s end Barcelona had moved nine points clear of Athletic Bilbao to win the title at a canter.
They also won the Copa del Rey that season, and Rivaldo’s goal in the final set up the penalty shootout against Mallorca in which his side would prevail.
8. Equaliser vs. England (2002 World Cup)
Michael Owen’s 23rd-minute goal in Shizuoka had given confident England a 1-0 lead over Brazil in their 2002 World Cup quarterfinal.
But in the second minute of first-half injury time Rivaldo hit an equaliser—a blow from which the Three Lions would not recover.
Just five minutes into the second half Ronaldinho lobbed David Seaman and Brazil were through to the semifinals.
7. Transfer to Barcelona (1997)
Rivaldo played only a single season at Deportivo La Coruna as his 21 league goals—the same as Raul—and Deportivo’s third-place finish had combined to make him one of world football’s most sought-after talents.
In July 1997 he sealed a £20.6 million move to Barcelona—nearly double what Deportivo had paid Palmeiras for his services.
6. Winner vs. Belgium (2002 World Cup)
One of Brazil’s tightest matches at the 2002 World Cup came in the Round of 16 against Belgium.
The European side had managed to keep things level for more than an hour before Brazil opened the scoring—the goal a display of genius from Rivaldo.
Accepting Ronaldinho’s scooped pass from the right, the attacker moved the ball from behind to front with his left foot and, upon completing his swivel, smashed the ball into the back of the net.
Ronaldo added an insurance marker as Brazil progressed to the next round.
5. Copa America Final vs. Uruguay (1999)
Rivaldo had been the target of considerable criticism whenever Brazil had failed to win a trophy, but on July 18 in Asuncion, Paraguay the then-27-year-old answered his critics with a two-goal performance in the Copa America final against Uruguay.
The goals came seven minutes apart, and after Ronaldo had found the back of the net Brazil were able to coast to victory.
Rivaldo and Ronaldo finished the tournament with five goals apiece, and Rivaldo was named the tournament’s best player.
4. Ballon D’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year (1999)
The Copa America in the bag, Rivaldo’s 1998-99 season wound up including the Spanish title and 29 goals in all competitions in addition to the international championship.
And for his efforts, he was named Ballon d’Or winner and FIFA World Player of the Year.
Needless to say, he also won the Spanish Footballer of the Year award for that campaign.
3. Return to Mogi Mirim to Play with His Son (2014)
Way back in 1992 Rivaldo had established himself as a full-time professional at Sao Paulo side Mogi Mirim.
Nearly 22 years later he returned to Sapao, where his son had broken through.
In the 63rd minute of Mogi’s Paulista match away to Sao Bernardo on March 9 Rivaldo was substituted; five days later he retired.
2. Hat-Trick vs. Valencia (2001)
Has there been a better hat-trick?
On the final day of the 2001-02 La Liga season, Rivaldo scored all three goals as Barcelona edged Valencia 3-2 to secure Champions League football for the coming campaign.
His spectacular bicycle kick—executed in the 89th minute with the score level at two goals apiece—remains one of the most iconic goals in football history.
1. World Cup Final (2002)
Rivaldo didn’t score in the 2002 World Cup Final against Germany, but he had a hand in both Ronaldo goals.
In the 67th minute his lash from 25 yards forced goalkeeper Oliver Kahn into making an awkward save that produced a rebound for Ronaldo to tap home.
Twelve minutes later, following a bursting run from Kleberson, he allowed the ball to pass through his legs for Ronaldo to poke into the bottom-right corner.
At the final whistle Rivaldo was a World Cup champion.