Fútbolita had the honor of recently interviewing one of football’s greatest forwards to date, Romario! We’re happy to report that contrary to popular belief, he is one of the most down-to-earth players we’ve met …. but one who also lives up to his reputation!
Romario also received the exclusive Cultzeros-Futbolita tee, (“e muito legal, eu gosto”) and told us about his career, that toe-poke technique of his, Brazil’s World Cup, his relationship with Bebeto and even his son. Don’t worry, we told him that Romarinho ‘e muito fofo’ on behalf of all of you. And despite our Portuguese, he got the message but was quick to add that Romarinho will ‘never’ be the next him.
ASH: Firstly, Romario, please tell us how you mastered that brilliant toe-poke goal technique of yours!
Romario (smiling): It’s a technique that is very special to me. It took many years of training and perfection for me to finally become comfortable and start scoring goals with it! But it’s something that cannot be ‘taught’ – you can either score a goal by the toe poke or not. There is no ‘right way’ to do it and I’m glad to be able to win many matches thanks to it.
ASH: Everybody in Brazil said Felipe Melo was the villain in the game against the Netherlands. Do you agree?
ROMARIO: It is difficult to say. He is clearly one of the best players in the world and a great professional, because to be selected to play for the Brazil team is not easy. But on that day of the quarterfinals, he simply did not perform well for the selecao and was very unlucky with the cards and fouls. There was a lot of pressure but unfortunately, he was blamed for causing our elimination but I will not call him a ‘vilao’ (villain).
ASH: What were the problems in this Brazilian team? How can Mano Menezes improve on this?
ROMARIO: They need to bring back the Brazilian football style to what it was before. Dunga played a defensive style of football, that is not unique to us and many people disliked it. His methods failed at the World Cup because our players were not used to it. The new coach, Mano (Menezes) needs to encourage the players to attack, keep passing, moving fast, and instill a sense of ‘hunger’ in the new players so that they will want to win the World Cup again. He needs to ‘renovate’ the team, experiment and bring new boys in. And the new coach must also remember that always playing beautiful football is essential to the Brazilians.
ROMARIO: Of course, it’s hard to pick just one (laughs). I scored many, many goals and I don’t remember all of them. But if I had to choose, it would be when I scored the two goals against Uruguay (1994 World Cup qualification) to send Brazil to the finals of tournament, which we later won. It was even more special to me because I scored the goals in the Maracana stadium, Brazil’s most historical stadium.
For me, the most beautiful goals I have scored in my career would definitely be for the selecao, and I can’t say it any other way. The feelings are different than playing for a club because you are wearing the green and yellow of your country, and there is always a sense of pride that comes with it.
ASH: What are your plans for Romarinho? (Son) He is now playing for the youth team of Vasco de Gama and has shown a lot of promise. Do you believe he will become the ‘next Romario?’
Romario: For him to become the next Romario will be quite complicated because there is only one Romario and that is me (laughing)! But on the other hand, I want him to have a successful career, play with a lot of heart, develop his style and become his own person and footballer at Vasco, where I started my career. I want Romarinho to score many goals, and I think more importantly, I want him to be able to prove any and all (of his) critics wrong in the future.
ASH: You also play beach football and footvolley. Is this how many footballers – both female and male – in Brazil start their careers in football?
Romario: Ah, definitely. Both games are similar to football and many Brazilians like to spend their time at the beach playing with the ball and it doesn’t matter what game it is, whether football or footvolley. It helps you develop your style of playing, and for me, I started my career mostly playing at the beach. So I’m always happy to play.
ASH : And your son, Romarinho, was seen a lot at the Rio beach with Ronaldinho. Are they good friends?
Romario : Yes, we all are good friends. Romarinho is very close to the nephew of Ronaldinho, Diego, who is in Milan now. And whenever we (or Romarinho) visits Milan, they will visit each other and they will play against each other. Who wins? No one does – it’s a draw!
ASH: What is your relationship with Bebeto (seen above, centre) like now? Do you speak with him? (both players were former adversaries)
Romario : Yes, of course. I speak to him a lot and Bebeto is a great friend of mine. In the past, we had a few problems with each other but it was only because we both wanted to do well for the (national) team. Later, he joined me at America, where he coached for a few games but he still remains a good friend of mine even though I made the decision to sack him (after eight games). Our friendship is still great, and it was a professional decision.
ASH: What about Pele? In the past, he said many things about your attitude that you did not like.
Romario: I respect Pele a lot because he has done a lot for Brazilian football. To me, he is still the best in the game. I regret some of the things I said, but at that time, I was very passionate about playing for Brazil and I was going through a bad time when he said those things. But I will always have respect for him.
ASH : There are many youngsters here in Singapore who want to be as successful as you were in football. What advise do you, Romario, have for them?
Romario: I want to say to them that in order to become the best in football, you must know the basic techniques and if you don’t, be prepared to work hard to ‘perfect’ it. You must always be happy with what you do to. Never play football or do something if you do not feel passionate about it. You must also be disciplined, and be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices. It is not an easy journey.
ASH: As a former World Cup champion, do you believe Spain deserved to win the World Cup?
Romario: As I said before, Netherlands and Spain are two teams close to my heart (he played for both PSV and Barcelona). But Spain deserved to win for the first time because they played beautiful football and were “os melhores” (the best) in the tournament.
Photos 2 & 4 © Futbolita
Photos 1 & 3 via SportingHeroes