Romário de Souza Faria, better known for Romario, is one of the football legends of the last century. The 56-year-old Brazilian began his career at Vasco de Gama in his hometown, Rio de Janeiro, at the age of 19 and at the end of the eighties he made the leap to Europe. The player became very popular playing for clubs like Barcelona and even won a World Cup with the Brazilian soccer team, in which he ended up becoming the best player in the tournament, thus winning the Ballon d’Or.
In 2009, he hung up his boots at América FC in Brazil, and since then his career has been linked to controversy. Romário was in the media center for not having declared his income. The jump into the politics of the ex-sportsman has also been sounded. Romário became a senator for Rio de Janeiro with the Brazilian Socialist Party. He later changed and went to the country’s centralist party called Podemos and is currently in the Liberal Party of Brazil.
Romario was born on January 29, 1966 in Rio de Janeiro. He took his first steps in football with Vasco de Gama, a club where he made his debut at the age of 19 in 1985. The former sportsman began to gain popularity within his team and, just two years after his debut, Romário went on to form Part of the Brazilian soccer team. His good performance in Vasco de Gama and in the Brazilian team opened the doors for him to cross the Atlantic and play in Europe.
The Brazilian landed in the Dutch team PSV Eindhoven in 1988, where he spent five seasons. During this time he became the three-time champion of the Dutch soccer league and scored a total of 165 goals in 167 games. His good game drew the attention of Johan Cruyff in the early nineties and the Brazilian player signed for FC Barcelona in 1993 where he came to form an exceptional pair of forwards with the Bulgarian Hristo Stoichkov and shared a team with other legends such as Laudrup or Koeman.
His time at Barça marked the high point of his career as a footballer. As soon as he arrived at the Catalan team, Romário won his first League and finished as the top scorer with 30 goals in 33 games, taking the Pichichi title. Furthermore, while he was at Barça, in 1994, the player won the World Cup with the Brazilian team. Although this was a bittersweet pill for Romário and the Barça fans. After winning the World Cup with Brazil, he was 21 days late when he returned to work with Barcelona. Something that bothered the Barcelona FC board of directors a lot and after a big dispute in offices, Romário made public his desire to return to Brazil and play there.
During the second half of his career, the former soccer player returned to Rio de Janeiro in 1995 to play for Flamengo, where after winning the World Cup with Brazil they treated him like a god. However, the following year Romário tried his luck again in La Liga and signed for Valencia. His second attempt in the Spanish soccer league did not go well either and due to conduct, described by the specialized media as improper, and his manners, despite his indisputable goalscoring skills, led Luis Aragonés, at the time Valencia coach, to fire to the player one year after his signing. Romario once again returned to Flamengo.
But things did not stop there because in 1997 Valencia hired Valdano as coach. And the Argentine asked that Romário return to the Spanish team. Once again, Romário crossed the pond and placed himself under Valdano’s orders. The ex-soccer player started that year super motivated in the preseason with the Che team. What’s more, in his debut he scored a huge goal at the Mestalla against Atlético de Madrid in the summer trophy for Valencia. But shortly after the start of the season, Romário was injured and missed the first 3 La Liga games with Valencia. Three games that the Valencian team lost and that Valdano was consequently dismissed. Valencia signed Rainieri as coach and he did not show much confidence in Romário so the player considered returning him to Flamengo.
In the year 2000, the former forward signed again for the team of his beginnings: CR Vasco da Gama. That same year, the team won the Brazilian league title and in the following years Romário managed to be the league’s top scorer three times.
Before hanging up his boots, Romario also played in Qatar, at Al-Sadd; in the United States, at Miami FC; and at Adelaide United, in Australia. The end of the Brazilian soccer star came out between his last stage at Vasco de Gama and América do Río. Romário retired from football, but he is one of the few footballers who has managed to become top scorer in three different countries: Brazil, the Netherlands and Spain. What’s more, according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, Romário is the only footballer who has been the top scorer 14 times in First Division tournaments: 10 times in Brazil, 3 in the Netherlands and 1 in Spain.
His last meeting with the Brazilian team was in 2005 and the former soccer player ended his sports career in 2009 at América FC. That same year, Romário moved from the field to the offices of América FC as soccer coordinator. The truth is that since the former Brazilian athlete retired from soccer, Romário has only made headlines when there has been some controversy in his life. The former player starred in the covers because of his complicated love life and also because of his love of the night. Endless troubles for which he was even sentenced in 2005 to pay more than 20,000 euros to Zico for moral damages.
Likewise, in 2009 he was sentenced for not declaring the income he received when he played for Flamengo in the 1996 financial year. Romario was sanctioned with two and a half years of rendering services to the community and a fine of more than 220,000 euros.
Romario’s political career
Romario entered politics in 2010, the year in which he was elected deputy for the state of Rio de Janeiro. The soccer player started in the Brazilian Socialist Party, then moved to Brazil’s centralist party, Podemos, and today he is a member of the Liberal Party, the party that has been led by Jair Bolsonaro.
In 2014, Romário won a seat in the Senate representing the state of Rio de Janeiro. In his political career, the former soccer player has been criticized for having shown his support for Bolsonaro on several occasions. In an interview a few months ago, Romário declared that before Bolsonaro “the country was in shit” and assured that everything improved considerably with Bolsonaro’s presence. “I lived with Bolsonaro for four years and he is a very serious person. He has courage and is not afraid to position himself. An election against Lula? He would continue to vote for the current president,” said the former Brazilian athlete.
Now, in the last Brazilian elections held last October, Romário has managed to renew his position and will continue to be a senator for the next eight years after obtaining more than 2.3 million votes, representing 29.19% of the votes.