- Romarinho a key figure in Al Jazira’s success at UAE 2017
- Brazilian brilliantly set up winner against Urawa Red Diamonds, having also scored against Auckland City
- Romarinho reflects on title winning run with Corinthians at 2012 Club World Cup
Romarinho, Al Jazira’s Brazilian front man, was all smiles after Al Jazira’s 1-0 victory over Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds in the second round of the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 on Saturday, and with good reason, having provided a marvelous assist for Ali Mabkhout’s winning goal.
Joy is a familiar emotion for the talented forward, who was part of the Corinthians squad that lifted the FIFA Club World Cup five years ago, although his contribution then was limited to just 15 minutes of playing time in the semi-final against Egypt's Al Ahly.
The 2017 campaign has been a significantly different experience for Romarinho, as he has now developed into one of the first names on the teamsheet at Al Jazira, who hoped that his skills and eye for goal could take them far in a tournament where success looked unlikely on paper.
Upon emerging from the changing rooms, Romarinho spoke about this change in status with FIFA.com. “I only played 15 minutes but it was an incredible experience. We were champions there in Yokohama,” he said. “Today, it's a totally different thing. We're going to play a semifinal against Real Madrid. I play a more important role in the side – I score and I set up goals for my team-mates. I can only thank god for this opportunity.”
Two years after Corinthians’ global title, the Sao Paulo native signed for Qatari club El Jaish, and three years later, he put pen to paper with Al Jazira. He did not enjoy the easiest of starts with the Abu Dhabi-based side, scoring just four times in 13 league matches.
Although he scored the winning goal in the UAE champions’ first match with Auckland and delivered an assist for Mabkhout against Urawa Red Diamonds, Romarinho was quick to talk up the collective aspect of his team’s performances. “No-one plays football alone,” he said magnanimously.
The man nicknamed O Iluminado continued: “I help the team as much as I can. Sure my contribution is important but the whole team deserves this celebration. We are a young team but with a strong personality."
Did you know?
- Romarinho’s real name is Romario Ricardo Da Silva.
- He played with Rio Branco’s youth team, following in the footsteps of former Real Madrid star Flavio Conceicao.
- Romarinho made his professional debut with Bragantino, prior to committing himself to Corinthians in May 2012.
- A month after joining Corinthians, the attack-minded Brazilian recorded two assists against rivals Palmeiras. A few days later, he found the net in the first leg of the final of the Copa Libertadores versus Boca Juniors.
Even the most optimistic Al Jazira supporters did not foresee that their team might reach the semi-finals of the Club World Cup and face the reigning European champions, but Romarinho and Co never doubted their ability to spring a surprise or two.
“Before the competition began, our dream was to play Real Madrid,” said the 26-year-old, visibly excited at the prospect of facing the Spanish heavyweights. “Stepping onto the pitch you have to forget those colours, that symbol that is Real Madrid and just play football.”
Does he feel any extra pressure ahead of a match in which he and his team-mates will lock horns with some of the biggest names on Planet Football? “Over there in Madrid, that's 22 superstars," he replied, laughing. “They’re all exceptional players.”
One of those players, Cristiano Ronaldo, recently picked up The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award. “He's the best in the world. I idolised him when I was younger," said the Brazilian. "Now, I hope to find a way to play like the best player in the world in order to beat the best player in the world.”