AS TALKS TO RIVALDINHO

Rivaldinho: Being Rivaldo's son is a burden

AS spoke to former Barcelona star Rivaldo's son, Rivaldinho - a player who is flourishing under Gheorghe Hagi at Romanian club Viitorul.

Rivaldinho: Being Rivaldo's son is a burden as a player
Viitorul

What was it like growing up in Barcelona with a superstar for a dad?

It was fantastic. I'm privileged to have a father who was number one, one of the best in history - and who is a wonderful father. Growing up in Spain has given me a different view of the world; I have more of a European mentality. I got to know different cultures and it was something that had a defining impact on my personality, on the man I am today.

You played in the Barcelona youth system as a kid...

Yeah, I was the youngest kid at the club; I was just seven and was training with lads of nine. The likes of [Lionel] Messi, [Andrés] Iniesta, Cesc Fàbregas and Víctor Valdés were older than me, but we trained on the same pitches. No-one could have imagined just how much they would go on to achieve. It's a story that's nice to be able to tell: that I once trained alongside them.

Do you have any memories of Messi at the time? Was he spectacular to watch even then?

I can't remember; I was too young. But I do remember that people would talk about him, and say that there was this little Argentinian lad who was phenomenal.

Did you always want to be a footballer?

When your father's famous and you see people asking him for autographs and photos, you want to be like him. So I always wanted to be like my father and be a footballer. I grew up in the dressing rooms of big clubs, getting to talk to big stars. That all blew my mind, and I wanted to feel what they did when they scored a goal and the stadium chanted their name. And my father always supported me.

I imagine playing alongside him was an indescribable feeling...

And we haven't only played together, but have also both scored in the same game (a Mogi Mirim win over Macaé in the Brazilian second divisoin in 2015). It was the most incredible feeling of my career, playing alongside my idol.

When you're making your way as a player, what is it like to be your father's son and carry the weight of his name?

It's more of a burden than a help. It has its positives: when I do something good, it has a greater impact in the media, because I'm Rivaldo's son. But at the end of the day, they always end up comparing you with your father. There's always that suspicion that you're only where you are because of him, because of your name. But I think I'm showing through hard work that I've got what it takes in my own right.

Your career has taken you to Romania, where you're a fan favourite at Viitorul Constanta - a club owned and coached by another all-time great in Gheorghe Hagi...

Hagi is like Pelé here. But as a coach he's a very approachable guy, a true teacher who you learn something new from every day. I owe a lot of the progress I've made this season to him. He showed belief in my potential and gave me the chance I was looking for, and I think the results are there for all to see out on the pitch.

After two years in Romania, you've started to be linked with a switch to one of Europe's five major leagues. But we're seeing Brazilian lads like Vinicius Júnior and Rodrygo Goes make that kind of move at a younger and younger age. What are your thoughts about that?

It isn't ideal, because you lose part of your development period. When you arrive in Europe, you're not fully prepared for it and and when you're at a club like Real Madrid, the pressure is huge. You have to start delivering immediately and that's very difficult when your development isn't complete. Rodrygo is doing well, though, and I love Vinicius. The ideal way to do it is what Neymar did: bide your time in Brazil, keep on developing and come over with more experience under your belt. But football has changed and I understand that, in this day and age, that's pretty much impossible.