The end of Romario’s Carnival

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The ace resigns from his job at Vasco. Things won’t be the same without the mighty Shorty around...

Romario’s career has been a feast of talent, wit, excitement and goals – so it’s a fitting coincidence that its closure comes on the day that marks the very end of the Carnival.

On the evening of this year’s Ash Wednesday, February 6, while all over Brazil revellers were just putting down their shiny costumes, the mighty Shorty, hero of the 1994 World Cup and one of the game’s living legends, announced the resignation from his player-slash-coach position at Vasco da Gama – and thus, perhaps, from football.

The 42-year-old decided to walk away from the job after the club’s board tried to force him to field a forward he wanted to bench in a Rio State Championship game, against Friburguense.

“I was going to play Abuda, but they told me to choose Alan Kardec because he needed to play in order to be sold to Europe. Then I thanked them, took my hat and left. I can’t accept that kind of intervention. My story at Vasco is over.”

So what now? Despite saying he’s still uncertain about what to do next – “I don’t rule out anything” – Romario had already voiced his desire to retire on March 30, when his contract with Vasco was due to expire.

In fact, just one day earlier, during Tuesday’s Carnival parade at the Rio de Janeiro’s Sambodromo, Shorty was adamant. “After March 30, I’ll quit. I can’t go on, not even as a coach. I’ll help promoting the 2014 World Cup, I’ll work on that.”

After his sudden departure from Vasco, Flamengo have already opened their doors, but it’s unlikely – even when we’re talking about the indomitable and unpredictable Romario – that the veteran will decide to resume his career anywhere else.

It’s also worth remembering that Romario, the player, is on a doping ban for testing positive for finasteride – a medicine for hair loss. He’s only allowed to play again on April 5, though a second appeal by the court is scheduled for the next days – the first was denied.

But whether it's the end of a brilliant career, as it seems (and Vasco should at least organise a farewell match to make up for it), or the opportunity for a surprising finale, Romario’s departure from his alma mater is one for the history books – especially when you note that the unexpected news broke precisely 23 years after Shorty first played a professional match, donning the Vasco shirt against Coritiba on February 6, 1985.

Too bad that this time we haven’t had the privilege of seeing Romario on pitch. Minutes before the game against Friburguense, he was already in his house, ready to watch on TV as his former team-mates/players won 2-0. From his couch, he explained the decision to Extra newspaper.

“When Eurico Miranda (Vasco’s bigwig) invited me to be the coach, I asked if I’d be the coach for real or just a bogus one. He told me it was for real.

"I said that, being the coach, I wouldn’t accept intrusions because I’d already seen things at the club that I didn't agree with. He told me all the decisions would be mine. And today he came with this story, these orders. Then I did what I had said I’d do if there was interference in my work. Period.”

Even far, far away from the box, he keeps shooting it straight. Add it to the 1000th, Shorty. And thanks for everything – for now...