Friday, April 19, 2013

19 April 1972 - One Low Can Balance Out A Lot Of Highs

On 19 April 1972, Rivaldo, the 1999 Ballon d'Or winner and World Player of the Year, was born in Paulista, Brazil.

The playmaker started his career in 1991 with Santa Cruz FC and moved to several different clubs in Brazil and Spain, including Corinthians, Palmeiras, and Deportivo de la Coruña, before joining Barcelona in 1997. In his first season there, he scored a total of 28 goals across all competitions and helped Barça to claim both the league title and the Copa del Rey.

They repeated as league champions in 1998-99, with Rivaldo scoring a total of 29 goals (24 were in the league, making him the second-highest scorer that season behind Raúl, who had 25). The following summer, he scored twice in the Copa América final to lead Brazil to a 3-0 win over Uruguay. The combination of his success with club and country led to him collecting a handful of personal accolades at the end of the year, including the Ballon d'Or, the FIFA World Player of the Year award, and the World Soccer Player of the Year award.

He remained with Barcelona until 2002, beginning a series of moves to a variety of different clubs, including Milan, Olympiacos, and his current club, São Caetano.

Despite all of success, he is remembered partly for one of football's worst dives. While playing for Brazil against Turkey in the group stage of the 2002 World Cup, Hakan Ünsal kicked the ball toward Rivaldo, who was waiting to take a corner. Although the ball struck Rivaldo in the thigh, he fell to the ground clutching his face, leading the referee to eject Ünsal from the match. Brazil went on to win the game 2-1, then proceeded to win the World Cup.

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