Stellars Club

Ronaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo: FC Barcelona’s Brazilian legacy

Football has given us great names throughout history. Many of those players have a common origin and several of them have ended up wearing the same colours, in addition to their country’s, to make that team even bigger. Today we will talk about the footballing legacy that Brazilians have left in the history of FC Barcelona. 31 Brazil players have worn the blaugrana shirt, we are going to stop in four of them: the four chosen ones. The four that could mark an epoch but left an indelible mark in the time that they were and that still lasts in the collective memory culé. The reminiscences of a better past: Romario, the phenomenon Ronaldo, the always underrated Rivaldo and the most magical smile of football: Ronaldinho Gaúcho.

Ronaldo was only one year but left one of the record numbers in the history of FC Barcelona 47 goals in 49 games. Romario, who arrived before and as Ronaldo from PSV Eindhoven, was two and already with one it served him to obtain to be the best player in the world. Rivaldo stayed for five years and managed to illuminate one of Barcelona’s darkest periods. And Ronaldinho, that as Rivaldo was five years, managed to raise, to position and to make reign the FC Barcelona in Europe. The four, also wearing the blaugrana shirt, got the award of being considered the best player of the year. Four of the best players in the world, four adjacent but never coinciding eras and four magical stories of recent history culé. The magic of the Brazilian R at the Camp Nou.

Romario landed at Camp Barça on 14 July 1993 in exchange for 10 million dollars. The Brazilian had just shone for PSV as top scorer in the first edition of the Champions League that year. And Romario’s first year could not have been better. He was part of the famous Dream Team led by Johan Cruyff and whose main protagonists were Hristo Stoichkov, Michael Laudrup and Ronald Koeman. Together they managed to win the Spanish league and reach another European final against Milan. Romario signed the best season of his career getting a pichichi trophy that he had predestined upon his arrival. “I will score 30 goals“- said the Brazilian in his presentation. He scored 30 goals to be crowned king of the goal in the Spanish league leaving for the memory that goal with a cow’s tail included in the victory of FC Barcelona against Real Madrid 5-0.

Cartoon footballer, that’s how Jorge Valdano defined him. Capable of making the impossible probable and the unimaginable a reality. He had all the qualities and was the precursor of the modern striker being the antithesis of the classic 9. Fast, with unattainable acceleration. Precise in his finishing. Always well positioned where he could hurt the opponent. And, above all, prodigious driving. Romario had it all. He didn’t want to run, he scored goals. His great season in Barcelona was crowned with the World Cup in USA in 1994 putting an end to the drought of canarinha in the competition of competitions 24 years later. Which would lead to him being named FIFA player of the year. The Romario legend was a reality and had been forged in 12 months in Barcelona.

Romario had already achieved what he set out to do and seemed to feel that his moment in Europe had passed. After five years in chilly Eindhoven and a year where he fulfilled all his goals in Barcelona but never acclimatised and always lived in a hotel, Romario returned to his native Brazil. The Rio de Janeiro had left a huge mark on the history of the culé in just one year. It was a path that was to be continued by his successor, Ronaldo Nazario, who arrived a year later to fill Romario’s void.

Ronaldo landed, like Romario, from Eindhoven after a spectacular year at PSV and became the most expensive signing in history at the time. Ronaldo did not exceed twenty years of age and in Can Barça would become the best striker in the world. In Barcelona we saw the best version of “O Phenomenon” that in his physical plenitude was incomparable. With speed and acceleration unbefitting a striker, dribbling ability and dribbling skills on a par with the best dribblers in history and unstoppable finishing. Four qualities that defined one of the greatest strikers in the history of football.

Ronaldo ‘s time at Barcelona ended too soon due to disagreements with the board in the contract renewal after a dream season where he won the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup where he was a hero scoring the goal in the final. And he also won the highest football award: the Ballon d’Or. Becoming the first Brazilian to lift it and the youngest player in history to win it. A year that served to continue the path that Romario had started and leave one of the most memorable marks in the history of FC. Barcelona**: that goal at the Multiusos San Lázaro**. That goal against Compostela. One of the best goals in history.

Ronaldo Nazario ended up leaving for Inter Milan a year after signing for a then-record transfer fee. The Italians paid the Brazilian’s clause: 4000 million pesetas. FC Barcelona was again left without a Brazilian reference and looked at another young man who was beginning to emerge in Europe, more specifically in Galicia, in Deportivo de la Coruna and who had already faced that season. That boy was Rivaldo and he signed for FC Barcelona in another record-breaking transfer: the Culés paid Depor’s termination clause, which coincidentally was the same amount as that of his predecessor Ronaldo.

Rivaldo was five years wearing the blaugrana shirt becoming an emblem of the culé team in one of the most difficult times of the club. It did not have the quality and definition of Ronaldo, the talent of Romario nor the magic of Ronaldinho but it managed to become the best player of the world and to illuminate to the equipment in its more gray moments. Disciplined and talented at the same time. Individual within a collective game. He never fitted into a tactical system but always stood out in the matches for his anarchic position on the field. One of the most unbalanced players in history outside of a collective system. Rivaldo was FC Barcelona and because of him, the team continued to win titles.

His start could not have been better: in his first year he won the double and the following year he retained the league title. In that second season at Can Barça, Rivaldo was named Ballon d’Or. After the first two years, his relationship with his coach Louis Van Gaal, which had not been the best up to that point, took a turn for the worse. The Dutchman always faithful to a rigid and inflexible tactical system and the Brazilian… so Brazilian. “It did not fit in the ecosystem of Barça and less in a tactically rigorous team like Van Gaal’s” so defined Ramon Besa, editor in chief of the newspaper El Pais in Barcelona.

Rivaldo left for the memory another of the most iconic moments in the history of the culé club: that goal of chilena before the Valencia in the last minute that was worth a classification for the Champions League. Yes, for the Champions League. FC Barcelona were going through a bad patch and Rivaldo kept them afloat. Injuries and constant clashes with the Dutch coach led to Rivaldo’s departure for Milan in 2002. Five years and 130 goals was Rivaldo’s legacy. A legacy that was continued the following year by the fourth in discord, the smile of football and the man who turned free play into a new collective style of play: Jogo Bonito. In 2003 would land via Paris, Ronaldinho Gaúcho. The one that changed the recent history of Barcelona.

Ronaldinho was something special for his dribbles, his goals, his characteristic way of playing and enjoying football. His smile. The 2005 Ballon d’Or winner left moments to remember on the pitch that will live long in the memory of those who love the game. That dance with the ball in his goal at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. The goal that caused an earthquake on his debut at Camp Nou against Sevilla. That foul that silenced England in the quarter-finals of a World Cup in Korea and Japan in which he would emerge as the winner. That run at the Santiago Bernabeu that ended in a standing ovation from the fans of the eternal rivals. Ronaldinho was a different player, unique and special. For these reasons Ronaldinho was chosen the first STELLARS, the first player to leave his mark on a work of art and a collector’s item that is for sale on the Stellars website.

In Barcelona, Ronaldinho became the best in the world, changed the paradigm of the Barcelona game, repositioned the team in Europe and led the team to win his second Champions League in which he was named best player of the tournament. Ronaldinho was the spark that Barcelona needed, he left a hislegacy in his smile and his characteristic way of playing football, and he left another future legacy: a replacement who would continue his mark at Barcelona, this time it would not be a Brazilian, but an Argentinian, nothing more and nothing less than Leo Messi.

The mark of the Brazilian R. The four Brazilians who changed the history of FC Barcelona. Four magicians who made Barcelona bigger. The four talents who delighted the football world at the Camp Nou. Four of the best players of the history that left a golden path in the culé history.

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