Brazil and Barcelona legend, Rivaldo, who visited Zimbabwe on 3 October, urged young footballers to work hard if they aspire to play at the highest level.
Soon after watching an exhibition match at Hellenic Cultural Centre, the 1999 Ballon d’Or winner shared his life story with Legends Academy players, from his humble beginnings in Brazil to stardom at the peak of his career in Europe.
“I had a poor upbringing, but through hard work I managed to overcome all the challenges to make it to the top, I have helped my family and a lot of people around the family.
“There are a lot of challenges in football and you will have to overcome them by staying humble and also believing in God,” Rivaldo said.
Over time, several young footballers across the globe have failed to realise their potential due to substance abuse and failure to stay grounded when they are in the limelight.
During his illustrious career, Rivaldo won a lot of silverware, including the World Cup in 2002, but in all the fame, he led a clean life.
“I am 45 now and I never smoked, neither did I drink alcohol; I never went out at night and [do] any things like that but remained focused. It is important to lead a clean life.
After watching the exhibition match, the legend was impressed by the players, whom he encouraged to keep working hard, looking out for opportunities to go to the next level.
“Make sure you all keep working the way you are working, you will get a chance to go and play outside the country in big leagues.
“Talent alone is not enough in football, you also need the opportunity to express that talent.
“Once the opportunity comes, it is important not to ruin it by losing focus,” the Brazilian legend warned.
During his one-day visit, Rivaldo met the acting President of Zimbabwe, Phelekezela Mphoko and the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Makhosini Hlongwane.
The former Barcelona player is expected to return to the country in November for a Ministry of Sport and Recreation-organised match for Barcelona legends t the National Sports Stadium.
Rivaldo was accompanied by Rayco Garcia, a former Real Madrid B player who also played in the La Liga for Real Oviedo in 2009/2010 season.