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FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup

Jorginho: Ronaldinho made my farewell unforgettable

(FIFA.com)
Junior presents a plaque to Jorginho under the watch of Ronaldinho
© João Vital / CBSB
  • Jorginho chats to FIFA.com about his extraordinary beach soccer career
  • ‘The King of the Bicycle-Kicks’ scored a trademark goal on his farewell
  • Ronaldinho made a breathtaking debut for Brazil in the game

It was supposed to be exclusively about him. Jorginho, the three-time world beach soccer MVP and eight-time global champion, was making the 303rd and final appearance of an extraordinary, 25-year career with the Brazil national team.

‘The King of the Bicycle-Kicks’ encored with a double, including one of his trademarked acrobatic overheads to hike his tally to 315 goals in the camisa canarinha, a figure outranked only by Junior Negao (318) and Nenem (336). Yet he had to share the limelight with his guest of honour, who netted two golaços – and Jorginho didn’t mind in the slightest.

“Having Ronaldinho there for my farewell meant as much to me as being named the best player in the world and winning a world title,” Jorginho explained to FIFA.com. “It was 40 degrees, at 2:30 in the afternoon – his feet were burning, because he’s not used to playing on the sand like the rest of us.

“Ronaldinho’s generosity, his brothership… he’s a phenomenal guy as well as being one of the greatest players to ever play football.”

So, how did Ronaldinho’s beach soccer debut, which the world was told would be a 30-second cameo, end up including action aplenty?

“Because he’s a genius!” Jorginho exclaimed. “He began playing 30 seconds, then one minute and 30 seconds, then… when a guy is a genius, he has to play.

“He adapted rapidly. He scored one wonder goal. Then he scored another wonder goal. He finished the game with three goals. It was wonderful for everyone at the game and watching on television.

“And for me, having my idols Ronaldinho and Junior, the guy who brought me into this sport, and Claudio Adao there will stay with me forever. My wife Carla, my mother, my brother, friends who are like brothers to me – so many important people in my life.

“The only thing missing was my daughter, Giovanna, who is studying in the United States. I would have loved to have her there. But the rest was beyond anything I could have imagined.”

A career on sand is something Jorginho couldn’t have imagined in 1993.

“I was a law student,” the 44-year-old explained. “I played beach soccer just for fun.”

A chance encounter with the exhilarating left-wingback in the enshrined Brazil carousel of the 1982 FIFA World Cup Spain™ – in the bathroom at a party, of all places – changed all that. Junior invited Jorginho to train with the newly-established Brazil beach soccer squad.

“Suddenly I had a choice to make: pursue a career as a lawyer or a beach soccer player. I had already done three terms of my law degree, but I made the right choice.

“From one day to the next I was travelling the world, playing alongside stars I idolised. Junior, Zico, Paulo Sergio, Edinho, Claudio Adao, stars of [11-a-side] football. It was a dream. It took a while to sink in. It’s something for which I’ll be eternally grateful.”

Jorginho exalted Junior, Magal, Benjamin and current Brazil captain Bruno Xavier as the best players he’s colour-coordinated with in canary-yellow, while when quizzed over the finest opponents he’s faced, he responded: “We had some great battles with Portugal over the years.

Madjer and Alan were phenomenal players. Hernani was another. Russia were another excellent side full of great players.”

Brazil, who overcame Portugal 4-3, Italy 8-4 and Tahiti 6-0 in the final to win their first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in eight years at Bahamas 2017, are now preparing to qualify for and defend their global crown in Paraguay in November.

“I think Paraguay are big contenders to win the title,” said Jorginho. “They have a great team and a great coach, Guga [Zloccowick], who has an excellent understanding of beach soccer. Paraguay have come on a lot in recent years and they will play in front of their own supporters, so I expect a lot from them.

“Russia are a great team. Iran too. And you can never forget about Portugal. And Spain must be respected, they have the reigning best player in the world, Llorenc [Gomez]. He’s an excellent player. He plays the style of beach soccer that I like. He’s inventive, he’s always looking to score goals.

“But I think Brazil are very well represented. This generation is very talented and has been playing together for many years. I think Brazil has everything to successfully defend their title.”

Could Ronaldinho help them do just that?

“I can’t speak for him, but what I can say, with certainty, is that he doesn’t lack the technique or the talent. He has them – and some – so it depends what he wants."

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