With the light hand of Pele, who forty years ago, with the help of journalists, set forth the story of his ascent to the peak of fame, the new stars rush to perpetuate themselves on the book publishing field long before the end of their football career. In these footsteps, Rivaldo Vitor Borba Ferreira, better known by his first name, went on to Barcelona and Brazil’s national team, the best footballer of the world in 1999, the Golden Ball and many other individual prizes, which are especially valued in his sport, where victories are achieved through collective efforts. The book, published in mid-2001 under the heading “Rivaldo: Victory over Fate”, promises in advance the narration of the difficult path to triumph on the field and the millions in the bank, which the author already says “in the first lines of his letter.” Let’s start reading the most interesting fragments of the book.
The story about the life of a football player recognized by FIFA as the best player in the world in 1999, as it predetermines a happy ending, reducing the role of the main actor to mentioning minor difficulties, light doubts, which in the end didn’t prevent triumphant success. However, in my case, nothing predetermined a calm, prosperous life. Childhood consisted of a struggle for survival, and the whole subsequent football career was a series of resistance to unfavorable circumstances, including the signing of my last contract. It was not at all easy for me to get the Golden Ball of 1999, and ninety minutes of each game always demanded composure and courage, plus many hours of hangover from these meetings – and so on for many years. I admit, I was visited many times by the idea that the only way out could only be changing the situation and doing something else.
If something led me through the streets of football, it was surprises, often accompanied by contradictions and doubts, rather than clarity and positive emotions. Being accustomed to encounter problems, not looking for them at all, I came to the conclusion that the world of football consists more of the outcasts than of the heroes, and I am more among the first than the second.
Perhaps my Brazilian mentality is largely to blame. The last straw that led to this conviction was the commotion that the ill-fated trip to Brazil in October 2000 caused in Barcelona. In fact, with the permission of the coach, I went to a medical examination conducted by the Brazilian Football Confederation.
Already in Brazil, I heard that the press showed a painful interest in my absence. It is not in my habits to ignore the media, and therefore attacks from afar — from Spain itself — quickly reached their goal. I learned a lot of new things, not pleasant at all, including from interviews that I never gave.
Of course, the press is far from the main source of my problems, although it cannot be said that it does not provoke them. And in this case, journalists simply should not have based their conclusions on conjectures; they would have asked the Barca press department and its official representative for an explanation. And so, theoretically, a fully justified trip to Brazil was universally condemned, and I myself ranked this quarrel as a long train of bad luck, which has been dragged since that first day when I first put on the boots.
Upon my return, before the training session, which I conducted alone, I was warned that I had to appear before the journalists in the Nou Camp press service. When he came, the TV crews only set up the cameras, the rest slowly pulled up. I sat down in anticipation of the first question and, because the wait was delayed, gave a short speech with an irresistible conclusion: if they don’t favor me at Barça, I’m ready to terminate the contract, give up the money the club owes me and go where I’m treated with with due respect. Thanked for your attention, got up and left the press center, leaving the journalists with their mouths open.
That’s how the heart and mind began to speak. Nothing was invented in advance; spontaneity reflected my authentic experiences. I admit that in my own words I presented the press with behind-the-heads, which they did not even think about during my stay in Brazil, where, while relaxing with my family, I healed my injured knee. There I tried to isolate myself from any public contacts. In those days on the beach, I smashed waves with a sore foot and even covered my face with my shirt when someone, perhaps an ordinary amateur, pointed his camera at me. Of course, I did it not out of harm, but only from the desire to be alone from the whole world.
In principle, I am a non-conflicting person. After the mentioned press conference, the next day I went to the Barcelona Fair, where, by agreement with the mobile phone company, Maxon talked to the press, gave autographs and took pictures with visitors.
The tension turned out to be, if not relieved, then considerably weakened. Then I returned to my world, to my family and friends. We had lunch at a country restaurant a few kilometers from Barcelona.