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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK

Rivaldo reflects on wheel of fortune

By Rodrigo Amaral
BBC Sport Online

Not many months ago, Rivaldo was booed off the pitch by Brazilian supporters after a World Cup qualifier against Chile.

A year earlier he had suffered similar vilification while playing against Coloimbia.

It is a quite remarkable fact that the player named best Brazilian at France 98 by Fifa and world player of the year in 1999 has so far struggled to win over domestic critics.

" Scolari told me my place was safe and I needn't be concerned about the critics "
Rivaldo

Finally, though, Rivaldo seems to be winning acceptance.

It was his poor performances in the 1996 Olympic Games that led to the Barcelona striker facing accusations of failing to deliver at international level.

It was a serious charge, and one that has since really stuck.

However, four impressive games to date in South Korea and Japan have done much to erase the stigma and Rivaldo says he has the national team coach to thank.

"[Luis Felipe] Scolari has put a lot of trust in me," said Rivaldo.

"People carried on criticising my football, saying that I shouldn't be in the team. But he told me my place was safe and I needn't be concerned about the critics.

"Scolari said I would have to play ten really bad games to be sacked.

"He gave me his confidence and it is great to be trusted by the coach."

Turnaround

Scolari certainly gambled that both Rivaldo and Ronaldo would be fit to play at the World Cup, despite struggling through the spring.

So far, his faith has been very well rewarded, as the duo have scored nine goals between them to carry Brazil into the last eight.

It is a huge turnaround for Rivaldo, who, less than two years ago, threatened to turn his back on the national team when the criticism got particularly painful.

And it is ironic that, just as his national popularity is starting to soar, so his club performances are coming under scrutiny.

An internet poll carried out by Barcelona's Mundo Desportivo newspaper recently found that 53% of those surveyed thought he should be kicked out of Luis Van Gaal's new squad.

The charge? He had been saving himself for international duty.

As the Brazilian poet Cartola used to sing, the world is like a mill - it moves in circles and sometimes things turn upside down.


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