Romário: from Rio de Janeiro to the top of football2023-01-29
One of the greatest scorers in football history, a striker of unique talent, FIFA World Cup winner and two-time CONMEBOL Copa America champion with Brazil, Romário de Souza Faria turns 57.
Early years with the yellow jersey and the first CONMEBOL America Cup
Romário made his professional debut at Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama in Rio de Janeiro. His success with the Brazilian national team did not take too long: in the same year he won the U-20 South American Championship and, in 1988, the silver medal at the Seoul Olympic Games, finishing both tournaments as the top scorer.
The CONMEBOL America Cup in Brazil in 1989 was Romário’s first title with the senior national squad. In this tournament he scored in the quarterfinals and in the semifinals, as well as the only goal in the final match, which gave Brazil its fourth continental title.
USA 1994 and Bolivia 1997
Romário made his World Cup debut with the «Canarinho» in Italy 1990, but was only able to play 66 minutes of the first group stage match, against Greece. A long-term injury left him out for the remainder of the World Cup and Brazil returned home after losing to Argentina in the round of 16.
In USA 1994 it was the striker’s chance for revenge, an opportunity he would take full advantage of. Making a historic offensive duo with Bebeto, he led Brazil back to the top of football after 24 years.
In the first match of the group stage, against Russia, Romário only needed 26 minutes to score his first goal in the World Cup and show he had arrived in the USA at great level. He scored again against Cameroon and Sweden in the group stage, plus the first goal for Brazil in the 3-2 win over the Netherlands in the quarterfinals and the only goal of the semifinal against Sweden, in the 80th minute.
The final match was played in Los Angeles in front of more than 90,000 spectators. Although Romário failed to score during the 120 minutes of the match, which ended in a goalless draw, he did convert in the penalty shootout, which Brazil won 3-2 to lift their fourth World Cup title.
The 1997 CONMEBOL America Cup was Romário’s last title with the Brazilian team, although he could not play the final match against Bolivia, due to an injury he sustained in the semifinal – a game in which he scored two goals in Brazil’s 7-0 thrashing of Peru. In total, he scored 5 goals in the competition.
The striker ended his career with the national team in 2005, waiving his fans goodbye with a goal against Guatemala in a friendly match. Romário scored 64 official goals with the yellow jersey.
In America and Europe
At club level, Romário wore the shirts of Vasco da Gama, PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, Barcelona and Valencia of Spain, Flamengo and Fluminense. He also played in the American MLS and Qatar.
He won the Mercosur Cup in 1999 and 2000 with Flamengo and Vasco da Gama respectively, the Brazilian Championship with Vasco, the Spanish League with Barcelona, 3 Dutch leagues, one Dutch Cup and a Super Cup with PSV and several regional championships in Brazil.
Romário’s name is written among the greatest scorers in football history. Undoubtedly, one of the most important strikers of recent times, a natural born scorer who dazzled the world with his unquestionable ability.