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The story of Rivaldo’s troubled childhood will make you wish you’d adopted him

1 The story of Vitor Borba Ferreira – that’s Rivaldo to you and me – is a proper rags to riches tale



Forget Jamie Vardy. Rivaldo really did overcome the toughest of obstacles to become the world’s greatest player.

2 He was born into abject poverty


Rivaldo came from Encruzilhada, a tough favela in Recife, in the North East of Brazil. He was so malnourished as a child that he lost his teeth. And he suffered heartbreak at a young age, with his dad dying when young Vitor was just 15.

3 Like Garrincha, he was bow legged as a child


But thought nothing about walking the 15-mile round trip to football training each day.

4 He was written off from the start



Rivaldo’s coaches saw his awkward gait and little frame and decided he just wasn’t strong enough to play professionally.

According to Diego Maradona – and he should know – the principal reason Rivaldo became such a success, other than an abundance of natural talent, was the very fact that he had come from nothing.

5 So no wonder he was driven by ‘bronca’



That’s the innate feeling of resentment, self drive and injustice which can help propel a person on to extraordinary things. And he *really* did go on to extraordinary things.

6 The journey to the top began here at Paulistano, his local side just outside Recife

Which is far from the pampered upbringing of La Masia as you can get. He was soon picked up by Brazilian giants Corinthians and Palmeiras, though – before his *really* big break came, at the age of 22, with a move to Deportivo La Coruna.

7 And boy did he take his chance



His first season in Europe ended with 21 goals in just 41 games, a tally which helped Deportivo to a third-placed finish. People started taking notice.

8 People like this man


Bobby Robson eventually chose to sign Rivaldo over Steve McManaman in 1997.

Barcelona had lodged a £12 million bid but decided Rivaldo was more up their street after Macca attempted to squeeze them in contract negotiations.

It proved to be an exceptional bit of business. Rivaldo scored 19 goals as Barcelona marched to a league and cup double.

The following year, they defended their La Liga title and, again, Rivaldo was at the beating heart of the team, scoring another 24 goals.

9 He was bold, brilliant and undeniably Brazilian

If you ever need reminding just how out of this world Rivaldo was during his time at Barca, just check out the hat-trick he scored against Valencia on the final day of the 2000/2001 season. Sumptuous free-kick? Check. Long-range screamer? Check. Overhead kick from outside the box in the dying moments? You bet.

10 He won it all



In a stellar career lasting over 24 years, Rivaldo won 12 league titles in six countries, a Champions League with Milan and a Copa America and a World Cup with Brazil. Oh, and small matter of the Ballon d’Or.

11 Yes, there was *that* dive


12 But his record was exceptional


Take those World Cup Finals in 2002. He was unstoppable. With five goals in the Finals (including one against England), Rivaldo enjoyed a spectacular tournament and alongside his strike partners Ronaldo (eight goals) and Ronaldinho (two), ‘The Three R’s’ had powered Luis Felipe Scolari’s side to their fifth win in the event.

13 And best of all, Rivaldo did it all for his son

Remarkably, Rivaldo only retired last season. Now aged 43 and the club president at his old club Mogi Mirim, he turned out for the side last season in the Brazilian Second Division and even played alongside his 20-year-old son, Rivaldinho.

Better still, they both scored in the same game as well.

Bronca, it seems, is hereditary.

One thing’s for sure. They’re some pretty big footsteps to follow in.