Rivaldo Vitor Borba Ferreira, better known simply as Rivaldo (40), was a genuinely excellent player for FC Barcelona during the late 90s and early years of the new millennium (1997-2002), one of the few fans could always look to for something special during volatile seasons at the club. He was signed, as a replacement for Ronaldo, from Deportivo la Coruña for 26 million US Dollars, a massive fee at that time. He was worth it.
With 136 goals in 253 games and many assists, Rivaldo was a critical component in the 2 league crowns (1998, 1999) and 1 Copa del Rey (1998) the Brazilian won while at the club. So good was he that in 1999 he won both the FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or. He was the first player I had every seen slide a free-kick underneath the predictable jumping wall, and then there is ‘the goal’ that will forever define his time at Barça.
On the eve of the very last game of the 2000/1 season, FC Barcelona sat in 5th place with 60 points, 3 points behind Valencia in 4th. The fixture was FC Barcelona vs Valencia at the Camp Nou. Barça had to win to qualify for the Champions League. In the 4th minute Rivaldo curled in a perfect freekick to make it 1-0 . Valencia equalized, but in 1st half stoppage time Rivaldo blasted one from 40 yards past that trickled past Valencia’s Cañizares, making it 2-1. Valencia again equalized in the 2nd half and going into the final minute of the match, of the season, FC Barcelona was not going to qualify for Europe’s premiere competition, while rivals Real Madrid again won the league. Frank de Boer then lobbed one towards Rivaldo on the edge of the box. First touch on his chest, second touch a perfect bicycle kick into the bottom corner. Rivaldo hat-trick, Barça win 3-2, overtake Valencia, and finish 4th. It still is among the elite sporting moments of not only my life, but also for thousands of other culés.
Bringing it back to now, Rivaldo paid a visit to the squad on Friday to wish them luck for Sunday’s match. On Thursday he went to dinner with former Barça player Simao Sabrosa, and he arrived to the training center Friday with Brazilian compatriot Dani Alves. Rivaldo is actually still playing professionally in Angola.
Rivaldo was asked by the media a range of topics and below are his thoughts:
On Barça Now
“Now, I enjoy watching Barça on tv. They are a great team and I hope they can win more titles because their game is so good.”
“He’s a great coach. Now, as a substitute for Guardiola, who did a historic job, he has a great opportunity. I’m sure he will triumph because he still has a team that plays well and finds it easy to play football. I think things will go well.”
“I like him a lot, also as a person. I like when players are humble like him. I think all Barça players are.”
On the New Ciutat Esportiva
“All this was not here when I was at Barça. It’s great. I’m very happy to see this amazing structure. I feel sorry I couldn’t have had something like this and wasn’t able to win a Champions League, but I am very grateful to the club.”
“It’s a tough game. Complicated. You never know what is going to happen because Madrid has a great team and they’ve won at the Camp Nou. But they are playing at home, and I think Barça can win.”