A player in illustrious company throughout his career, it’s remiss of any of us to think that his colleagues make up for the qualities he lacked. In reality, this guy was an almightily good goal-getter.
Self-christened as “the man with a thousand goals”, there’s most certainly an enigmatic quality when it comes to Romario. Personally, I don’t mind it when a player has that bit of confidence about; even when it rubs people the wrong way. But it only really works in the guy can back themselves up. And boy, did he do that!
Not dissimilar from the majority of players growing up in the burning cauldron of South American futebol, Romario was quickly becoming a household name closer to home with Vasco Da Gama before he courted attention from further afield. A number of rumours came and went before Holland’s PSV Eindhoven put their money where their mouth was to purchase the samba star for an undisclosed fee in 1993.
Right from the word ‘go’, one needn’t have worried about the overwhelming qualities of Romario, which would take little tine to shine through in the red of PSV. While there, it was clear that the guy was always going to diverge opinion when it came to ‘how seriously’ he took the idea of being a professional football player.
But in hindsight, it appears to be something that worked to his effect. Think about it: we can count time and time again, the amount of instances where a player almost becomes overawed by the occasion. Now, I’m not saying they should ‘care less’ or anything like that, but being able to detach yourself from the seriousness of a situation might allow you to confidently overcome it. Something which the Brazilian did to a masterful effect.
“If he saw that I was a bit more nervous than usual ahead of a big game, he’d come to me and say: ‘Take it easy, coach, I’m going to score and we’re going to win’. What’s incredible is that eight out of the ten times he told me that, he really did score and we really did win.”PSV Coach Guus Hiddink on Romario
In terms of his playing style, Romario was one of those strikers that could command the opposition penalty area as if he lived there – and they weren’t welcome! Constantly jinking in and out of defenders and making them feel even more stupid than they looked, goalkeepers were merely statuesque obstacles whenever he chose to slot the ball home. Which he did with an unerring level of precision and poise on far more than the ‘odd’ occasion.
Eventually going on to score 165 goals in 167 appearances for PSV Eindhoven (and no, that isn’t a typo!), Romario’s time in the Netherlands has gone down in Dutch footballing folklore. And it’s safe to say, that he himself treasures his spell in Holland, with him not going on to spend anywhere near the amount of time he did while he was there. All in all, it was a five year period that was the making of what would become the Romario legend.
Of course, the rest of his footballing CV is as eye-watering as it is record-breaking. With a famous spell as the focal point of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team rounded off with a number of ‘journeyman’ spells where the guy would go wherever he wanted and do whatever he wanted. But no matter what, he never forgot this simple thing that made him so great. In that, in order to play great football, you had to be happy.
You couldn’t really have one without the other. IMO, current footballers of today and even those like you or I could take a lot from that Romario mantra.