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Super Romario

Let's not overlook a certain highly-sexed Brazilian superstar when we're reminiscing about past - and indeed present - greats.

Paul DoyleAugust 30, 2006 01:03 PM


Name the top 10 footballers of all time. Well go on then.


Finished yet?


Tell you what, let me press on with my work and you can finish your list at home later. Just do me one favour: include Romario, a stubby genius Europeans overlook all too often when it comes to recalling past greats.


Hands up if you spotted the error in the above sentence? That's right, Romario isn't a past great: he's still playing. What's more, it emerged last night that the 40-year-old isn't going to hang up his boots until the whole world has been forced to stand up and hail him as a living legend. For he's about to become only the second player - after Pelé - to score 1,000 career goals.


The Brazilian scored a hat-trick last weekend for rubbish American outfit Miami FC in their 7-1 trouncing of the even more rubbish Atlanta Silverbacks. That brought his career tally to 982 and though there's every chance he'll reach his millennium in Friday's match against the pungently awful Minnesota Thunder, he surely knows that football fans around the world will only truly acclaim him if he reaches that landmark in a proper league - which is no doubt why he will shortly join Vasco da Gama for the fourth time.


"Romario will return to Vasco as soon as he's sorted out his situation in the United States," trumpeted club chairman Eurico Miranda yesterday. "He will score his 1,000th goal and finish his career here. That's for sure."


If for some reason you never saw the man known in his homeland as Baixinho (Shorty) play, and therefore never witnessed his exquisite touch, slick dribbling and, most of all, his supremely intelligent movement and immaculate finishing, then check out the following statistics and be convinced. From 1992-94, he scored a ridiculous 127 goals in 143 games for PSV Eindhoven. Then he went to play 46 games for Barcelona during which he plundered 34 goals, including one in a hilarious humiliation of Manchester United, when he and Hristo Stoichkov exposed Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce as petrified planks. Back in Brazil, he notched 137 goals in 188 matches during his three previous stints with Vasco, plus 57 in 85 games during two spells with Flamengo and 35 in 60 games during his two sojourns at Fluminese. He's hit 17 in 20 games with Miami FC. All in all, the only clubs for whom he didn't average more than a goal every two games were Valencia (five in 11) and cash-crazy Qatari fools Al Saad, where he failed to find the net in any of his six appearances in 2003 because, presumably, he was too busy counting his money.


Add the 55 goals he scored in 70 appearances for Brazil, including five at the 1994 World Cup where he was the outstanding player, and you get the picture. What you don't get, admittedly, is anywhere near 982 goals. The shortfall is conveniently bridged - much like Pele's supposed haul of 1,281 goals in 1,363 games - by goals in friendlies, exhibition games and assorted kickabouts. Who's been keeping track? Well, Romario has. Since he was nine. Which, all told, means the landmark he lusts after will be slightly shabby when he eventually attains it.


Still, you'd be hard pressed to name a better goal-getter in the history of football - Gerd Müller, Eusebio and Ronaldo might be in the frame. Whatever Romario's real total, all budding strikers might like to tell their managers that in order to follow in Romario's footsteps, they must follow his training methods - the prolific funster, who always insisted on being given time off to celebrate his birthday with his mates, once claimed he can only ever score if he's spent the previous night having "glorious sex".


Wouldn't really have the same resonance if the piece had ended with 'ordinary sex', would it?

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