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Controversy on the road to 1,000

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Romario, Brazil's legendary striker, is two goals short of reaching a milestone: his 1,000th goal.

 

This year alone, he scored three hat-tricks.

 

If he does not score his 1,000th on Wednesday, his fans will look forward to Sunday, when Vasco confronts its most bitter rival, Flamengo, at Brazil's holy football ground, the Maracana Stadium.

 

So far, Romario has been outscored in world football only by Pele.

 

The legendary player hit the net 1,282 times - the only one to have scored more than 1,000 times.

 

And now the player known by his many fans as Shorty is likely to follow suit.

 

But is he really?

 

Own goal count

 

The goal count was done mainly by Romario himself and in order to speed up the process, he recently took part in a series of friendly matches and played short seasons for squads in the US and in Australia that would make Accrington Stanley look like Manchester United.

 

In Brazil, the local press acknowledges that Romario is nearly there, but says that the numbers are somewhat debatable.

 

Football's greatest striker has reservations about Romario's claim

Placar, one of Brazil's leading football magazines, claims Romario's personal stats credit him with 100 goals more than he has really scored.

 

"Currently, there are several parallel counts going on in Brazil," says Joao Carlos Assumpção of SportTV, a Brazilian sports channel.

 

"Some say Romario has seven goals fewer than he claims and others think he should not include the ones he scored during his youth league days, before becoming a professional.

 

"Critics say that the perfect day for goal 1,000 would be on April Fools Day," he says.

 

But many of Brazil's football pundits and fans have chosen not to dig deep in the controversy, for they believe Romario has more than earned the goals he claims.

 

Among them is Tostao, currently one of Brazil's leading football writers and a former legend of the 1970 Brazilian squad.

 

Tostao claims that whether he is about to reach 1,000 or a bit less is irrelevant.

 

"Some goals are being disputed because they were not scored in official games.

 

"But it's Romario's figures and he should be respected. Whether he scored 900, 950 or 1000, that does not diminish the genius of Romario, one of the greatest players of all time."

 

According to Tostao, "he is not only a fabulous striker, but a player that foresees the moves of his opponents in a few seconds. It's a knowledge that goes beyond logic. Romario is absurdly gifted".

 

Amongst those who criticised Romario's "everything counts" strategy was Pele.

 

But Shorty, who has never displayed the reverence that others in Brazil show the mythic player, claims that Pele had no reservations about counting his own goals in unofficial contests.

 

Last weekend, Romario's stats received an official endorsement by no less than Fifa itself.

 

Football's governing body said that the striker's goals scored, say, during a festive game played against The Friends of Luisinho are as legitimate as the ones Pele scored for Brazil's National Army team.

 

Jose Geraldo Couto, who writes a weekly football column in Brazil's leading newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, says that Romario arouses a "love-him-or-leave-him feeling".

 

"Many criticise him for his lifestyle off the pitch and believe he sets a bad example, the writer says.

 

Romario had been notorious for his lush life, of being fond of pretty girls and loving the nightlife.

 

But his public image has changed a great deal recently, especially since he became the father of a girl with Down's Syndrome.

 

His public displays of tenderness for his child and his engagement in the cause has led parents of children with special needs to admire him.

 

The tears that Romario shed in his last appearance with Brazil's national squad also made Brazilians realise that he was not only a bon vivant, but a devoted athlete.

 

Many also look back into 1994. That year, thanks mainly to Romario, Brazil won a World Cup after a 24-year gap.

 

Jose Geraldo Couto, who is also a leading film critic, says that the controversy surrounding Romario's 1000 goals is a bit like the famous quote from the western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

 

"A great deal of football history is based on myth and cannot rely solemnly on facts and figures," the critic says.

 

"The exact number is less relevant than the fact that Romario always dreamed of scoring 1,000 goals".

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Among them is Tostao, currently one of Brazil's leading football writers and a former legend of the 1970 Brazilian squad.

 

 

 

Spooky! I was only thinking about him last night. (not in a romantic way, you baffoons, but that I was always 'him' when we were playing football in the school yard)

 

As for Romario's 1000 goals, we would never be able to tell who was telling the truth so I guess we should just give him credit - he is, after all, about as old as Rob W so he should have scored a canny few.

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I take issue with the characterization of the US League in which he played--the last place team in our league is still good enough to tonk Sunderland 3-0.

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I must say though, that meeting Romario was probably the highlight of my work in soccer media thus far. He was aloof a bit, but that's to be expected. Very fun to meet him and Zinho who was a lot friendlier during last year's World Cup.

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I must say though, that meeting Romario was probably the highlight of my work in soccer media thus far. He was aloof a bit, but that's to be expected. Very fun to meet him and Zinho who was a lot friendlier during last year's World Cup.

 

Name-dropping-tastic. :lol:

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I take issue with the characterization of the US League in which he played--the last place team in our league is still good enough to tonk Sunderland 3-0.

 

How predictable was that comment? :lol:

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I take issue with the characterization of the US League in which he played--the last place team in our league is still good enough to tonk Sunderland 3-0.

 

How predictable was that comment? :lol:

Zathras obviously gets paid for promoting US soccer on internet message boards... :unsure:

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