Rivaldo regret at not playing in England

Brazilian legend Rivaldo has admitted his regret at not playing in England during his career.

Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers were once linked with a move for the long-legged Samba star. However, despite entering into prolonged negotiations with both, the former Barcelona and AC Milan forward opted to sign elsewhere.

“I do regret not ever playing in England,” he says in an extensive One on One interview in the November 2011 issue of FourFourTwo. “It could have been great.”

The first opportunity arose after the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, where Rivaldo was an ever-present in the Brazil side that won the tournament, scoring five goals.

Looking to leave Barcelona after scoring 86 goals in 157 league appearances since 1997, he entered discussions with Spurs before deciding on an ill-fated move to the San Siro, where he made just 22 league outings.

Upon leaving Milan as a free agent, he was thought to be closing in on a move to the Reebok Stadium, only to eventually choose Olympiakos instead. He enjoyed a successful three-season spell with the Greek giants, netting 36 goals in 70 league games.

At the time, then manager Sam Allardyce and other Bolton representatives felt confident of securing a deal for Rivaldo, but their patience wore thin after talks dragged on.

Many at the club believed the player and his advisors were merely using the Trotters as a tool in their search for a better deal.

However, this was not the picture painted by Glenn Hoddle – Spurs manager at the time of their dealings with Rivaldo - who praised the Brazilian for explaining his decision by way of a letter, something the man himself has trouble recalling.

“I don’t remember sending the letter,” said Rivaldo. “But I recall going to White Hart Lane. But playing for a big club in Italy at that time was more of a challenge than England.”

Read the full in-depth interview with Rivaldo in the November 2011 issue of FourFourTwo – a Manchester derby special.

It features exclusive interviews with Ashley Young, Sergio Aguero, Roberto Mancini, Nemanja Vidic, Micah Richards and Tom Cleverley. Plus, find out how Fernando Torres could have been a goalkeeper! Subscribe now!

By Vithushan Ehantharajah