Gerson reckons Romario was consequentially better than Ronaldo. Position, nationality and scoring statistics means ‘Shortie’ and ‘The Phenomenon’ are relentlessly juxtaposed, with many feeling there was little between the all-time great strikers. Yet ‘The Parrott’, whose mind-blowing quarterback passes helped Brazil win the 1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico™, gave Globo a definitive opinion on who was superior.
“Romario,” declared Gerson. “And he wasn’t just better. He was way better. Because of everything. Inteligence. Look at his size. Romario defied logic. An opponent who was two metres tall, he’d [get the better of] them.
“The goals he scored were the stuff of lunacy. At the World Cup he and Bebeto dropped back into midfield, picked up the ball and scored goals. There was no midfield.
“I saw this and I went to speak to him afterwards. ‘We won the World Cup because of you and Bebeto. Without you two, and especially without you, it would have been really tough. We wouldn’t have won the World Cup.’ He said, ‘No, leftie’. I said, ‘I wish I’d have played with you’.”
Gerson produced two glorious assists, before going off injured, in Brazil’s 4-1 win over Czechoslovakia in their Mexico 1970 curtain-raiser. He returned for the knockout phase and scored a superb goal against Italy in the Final.
Romario inspired Brazil to glory at USA 1994 and finished it with the adidas Golden Ball. Ronaldo was a non-playing member of that squad, but did perform prominent roles as A Seleção reached the France 1998 Final and won Korea/Japan 2002.
Overall, Romario netted 55 goals in 70 internationals, while Ronaldo hit 62 in 98. The pair played 19 games together for Brazil, scoring an incredible 33 goals between them.
After boasting one of the world finest strikers for two-and-a-half decades thanks to Careca, Romario and Ronaldo, the role became a problem position for Brazil in recent years. However, hope is high that Gabriel Jesus is the answer to that. The 19-year-old has scored five goals in six matches to help Tite’s team stride four points clear at the top of South American qualifying for Russia 2018.