Ahead of the first leg of the Europa League playoff tie between Dinamo and Athletic, AS sat down with Rivaldinho, son of the Barcelona and Brazil great.
How’s it going in Romania?
Good. The team is trying to get a good footing in the league. I scored in the opening game and we’ve started well.
What surprised you about Dinamo when you arrived?
I found a team that was a lot better than I expected. The city is amazing, it’s got everything you can think of. I’m really happy I took this step.
What goals have the club set for the season?
To fight to be at the top of the table and to progress in Europe if we can. It won’t be easy, but nothing is impossible in football. We’re not a club that has all the money or all the talent in the world, but maybe we have more enthusiasm than most and with a bit of luck we can go through.
What do you know about Athletic?
Aduriz, of course, and the club’s philosophy. I like to watch him, to learn from his movement and his eye for goal, and the same thing with Luis Suárez. But there’s more to Athletic than Aduriz…
"I haven't even got one percent of my dad's class"
How much does the name weigh on you?
At the beginning it did a lot. I was a kid and people were comparing me, putting pressure on. There are a lot of bad people who try to put you in uncomfortable spots, but there were also a lot of people who helped me. My dad won the Ballon d’Or, he was one of the best in history. I haven’t got even one percent of his class. If I had that one percent, I’d be the best in the world. There’s only one Rivaldo. Right now Messi, Neymar and Cristiano are the kings… but they’re different, every player has his style. Geniuses like that only come about every thousand years.
You once achieved your dream of playing with your father…
Yes, I’ll never forget the date: July 14, 2015. It was with Mogi Mirim. We both scored, we won the game 3-0 and it was an unforgettable night. For my goal he won the ball and he put in a shift defensively…
Your dad was the club president at the time and some people said you only got a game because of that…
[Laughs]. That’s right, people said I was only playing because I was his son. When I was a kid I told him I was going to stop playing. He was playing in Uzbekistan and he got me to change my mind, he told me to play for my own merits. At the end of the day it didn’t matter what people said, I knew the comparisons were inevitable until I stop playing. If I score a goal it’s just because I’m Rivaldo’s son, and if I miss it’s because I can’t handle the pressure of that… there’s no way around it. I don’t want to disappoint him. More than having a coach in the house, I had a whole coaching staff. My dad used to take me to training and there I'd be around Giovanni, Kluivert, Reina, Saviola...
What’s your ambition?
To play for Brazil. I can play for Spain as well, as I’ve got dual nationality, but I have to do a lot more to earn an honour like that.
In the case of Mazinho’s sons, Thiago opted for Spain and Rafinha for Brazil. And you?
I haven’t really thought about it. I was born in Brazil and it’s my blood, but I love Spain and in a large measure that was the country that educated me.