RIO DE JANEIRO - Romario, who won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil and scored more than 1,000 goals playing for major clubs, is looking to put something back by entering local politics.
"Shorty", the poor boy from the Jacarezinho 'favela' (shanty town) who became one of the world's best strikers, is seeking support from the poor in Rio to win a local election in October.
If he is elected as a federal deputy for the Rio branch of the Brazilian Socialist Party, Romario would hope to help deprived children "to give back all that which Father in Heaven gave me."
Romario, whose youngest daughter has Down's syndrome, proposes creating sports centres for young poor people in Rio state and providing social assistance to disabled children.
"In politics I'm going to have less difficulty than I've had so far to do something for children and young people in the community and also for children with special needs," the 44-year-old said.
"People, especially in the communities, respect me and see in me someone who came from where they are and that they can get to where I did," he told Reuters Television after three hours of campaigning in the City of God favela on Sunday.
"I was always an example for them in that sense and now that I can, I must give back all that which Father in Heaven gave me and I believe politics can make that possible for me."
The former Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, Fluminense, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Valencia striker, who retired from football at 41 after scoring more than 1,000 goals according to his own statistics, promises "another goal for Brazil".
In an electoral TV programme, Romario says: "In sport, I always promised and delivered. In politics, it won't be any different. I count on your vote to score another goal for Brazil."
If elected, Romario, who also has a strong campaign on the internet with 112,000 followers on Twitter, will have to spend the week in the capital Brasilia.
He promised, however, to continue as a director of America, the Rio club he has always been a fan of and which won promotion to the state first division, although they are in the fourth tier of the national championship.
He said: "I haven't played for three years, what I do in football is help America and that's something I won't stop doing. But I'm going to get fully involved in politics."comments