Romrio de Souza Faria (born 29 January 1966), known simply as Romrio (Brazilian Portuguese: ), is a Brazilian politician who previously achieved worldwide fame as a professional footballer. A prolific striker renowned for his clinical finishing, he is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.[1][2] Romrio starred for Brazil in their 1994 FIFA World Cup success, receiving the FIFA Golden Ball as player of the tournament. He was named FIFA World Player of the Year the same year. He came fifth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll in 1999, was elected to the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002, and was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players in 2004.[3][4]

At club level, after developing his early career in Brazil, Romrio moved to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands in 1988. During his five seasons at PSV the club became Eredivisie champions three times, and he scored a total of 165 goals in 167 games. In 1993, he moved to FC Barcelona and became part of Johan Cruyff‘s “Dream Team“, forming an exceptional strike partnership with Hristo Stoichkov. He won La Liga in his first season and finished top goalscorer with 30 goals in 33 matches. During the second half of his career Romrio played for clubs within the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. He won the Brazilian league title with CR Vasco da Gama in 2000 and was a three-time top scorer in the league. At the end of his career he also played briefly in Qatar, the United States and Australia.

Considered a master of the confined space of the penalty area, his rapid speed over short distances (aided by his low centre of gravity) took him away from defenders, and he was renowned for his trademark toe poke finish.[5][6] With 55 goals in 70 appearances, Romrio is the fourth-highest goalscorer for the Brazil national team, behind Pel, Ronaldo and Neymar.[7] He is second on the all-time list of Brazilian league’s top scorers with 154 goals. He is the second-most prolific goalscorer in the history of football.[8]


Club career

Early years

From very humble origins, Romrio was spotted in childhood when playing for Olaria, a small club from the Rio de Janeiro suburb. He was taken to the junior team of Vasco da Gama where he won two state leagues (1987/88) and earned his first call-ups to the national team. Romrio came to international attention when he became the top scorer at the 1988 Olympic football tournament.[9]

1988-1993 PSV Eindhoven

Romrio training with PSV in 1989.

Shortly after the Olympics he moved to PSV Eindhoven, where he won the Eredivisie in 1989, 1991 and 1992.[9] Renowned for his ability to operate in the confined space of the penalty box, Romrio scored 165 goals in 167 games in five seasons at PSV.[6]

Driven by an unswerving belief in his abilities, Romrio’s laid back manner and overwhelming self-confidence would be displayed throughout his career, with Guus Hiddink, his coach at PSV, stating, “If he saw that I was a bit more nervous than usual ahead of a big game, hed come to me and say: Take it easy, coach, Im going to score and were going to win’. What’s incredible is that eight out of the ten times he told me that, he really did score and we really did win.”[10]

1993-1995 FC Barcelona

Romrio moved to Spain’s FC Barcelona for the 1993-94 season and became part of Johan Cruyff‘s “Dream Team“, in which, along with players such as strike partner Hristo Stoichkov, midfielders Jos Mari Bakero, Pep Guardiola and Michael Laudrup, and prolific goalscoring defender Ronald Koeman, he helped the club win the La Liga title, while becoming the season’s top goalscorer with 30 goals in 33 matches.[9] Barcelona also reached the 1994 UEFA Champions League Final, where in spite of being heavy favourites to win, they eventually lost 0-4 to Milan. The buildup to the final saw Spanish newspapers already declaring Barcelona as winners, while Cruyff told his team, “You’re better than them, you’re going to win”.[11] With Romrio and Stoichkov leading the Barcelona attack, Milan defender Paolo Maldini conceded his team were underdogs, but they were spurred on by what they perceived as arrogance from Barcelona.[11] One member of the Barcelona back room staff admitted Barcelona were complacent, “We went there to collect the cup, not to compete for it.”[11]


One of Romrio’s best performances was scoring a hat-trick in the memorable 5-0 win over Real Madrid in the El Clsico at the Camp Nou, with the spectacular opening goal seeing him drag the ball around the defender without it leaving his foot before finishing with a trademark toe-poke into the corner of the net.[5] His highlight for Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League came in the two games against Manchester United where he nutmegged Peter Schmeichel to score at Old Trafford, and scored again in the 4-0 win at the Camp Nou in front of 114,000 fans.[1][13] Reflecting on the game at the Camp Nou, Manchester United captain Steve Bruce, who played in defence that night, states: “Of all the great things that happened during my career, the thing that sticks out the most is that night because we got our backsides kicked big-style. Stoichkov and Romrio are still etched in my memory, especially Romrio, who was arguably the best player I ever faced.”[13]

Romrio was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1994, after being the runner-up in 1993.[9] Although he was lauded for his performances, Romrio was prone to controversy, and in 1994 he landed a left hook to Sevilla’s Diego Simeone and was suspended for five games.[14] Romrio left Barcelona unexpectedly in January 1995 after having a rift with coach Cruyff.[15]

1995-1999 Flamengo and Valencia


In 1995, Romrio returned to Brazil to play for Flamengo and spent five years there excluding two short-lasting comebacks to Spain during that period.[6] During a Copa Libertadores match against an Argentine team in 1995, Romrio kicked an opposition defender on the chest in retaliation for a punch on his teammate Edmundo.[17] He began the 1996-97 season with the Spanish club Valencia but after having heated arguments with then head coach Luis Aragons he was soon loaned back to Flamengo.[18]

Romrio returned to Valencia at the beginning of 1997-98 season. With their new coach Claudio Ranieri claiming that he did not want to have any players staying in the club against their will, Romrio, stating needs of good preparation for the World Cup in France, left Valencia for good after playing just six league matches in the season. Once again he returned to Flamengo.[19]

2000-2005 Vasco and Fluminense

Romrio rejoined Vasco da Gama in 2000 and linked up again with fellow international striker Edmundo. Forming a prolific partnership, the two forwards led Vasco to the final of the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship, with Romrio finishing as joint-top goalscorer with three goals. The most notable performance from the pair was a 3-1 defeat of European champions Manchester United at the Estdio do Maracan, where Romrio scored twice in three first-half minutes and Edmundo added a third before half time.[20] Having previously got on well together at Flamengo, the volatile Edmundo became jealous of Romrio’s privileges, stating the club was “a court, Romrio the prince and Eurico Mirando the king”.[17] After Vasco’s victory a few days later, Romrio replied: “Now the court is happy: the king, the prince and the fool “.[17]

At 34 years of age, Romrio had one of the best seasons in his career while winning the Copa Mercosur and the Brazilian league title with Vasco. Romrio’s performance was key in the Mercosur final where Vasco faced Brazilian rivals Palmeiras from So Paulo. After splitting the first two matches, a decisive third took place in So Paulo. Palmeiras took a 3-0 lead before half-time. In the second half however, Vasco scored four goals including Romrio’s winner in the stoppage time, which completed his hat-trick.[21] Romrio received both the South American and Brazilian Footballer of the Year awards. He finished both the 2000 and 2001 seasons as the Brazilian league’s top goalscorer.[22]

From 2002 until 2004, he played for Fluminense. In February 2003, Romrio signed a lucrative three-month contract in Qatar with a club Al Sadd but after a disappointing stint without scoring a goal he returned to Fluminense.[23] On 21 October 2004 he was fired from the club after a conflict with the coach. He also attacked a fan who had thrown six live chickens at him during training.[14] Romrio then went back once again to play for the team he started at, Vasco da Gama. In 2005, at 39 years of age, Romrio scored 22 goals in the Brazilian Championship, making him the league’s top goalscorer for the third time.[9]

Late career

In the beginning of 2006 Romrio joined Miami FC along with former 1994 FIFA World Cup teammate Zinho. He helped Miami FC reach their first ever USL-1 Playoffs, scoring 19 league goals in 25 appearances for the team.

Seen as a publicity coup of the A-League‘s short history, Romrio was signed by AUFC Board member Mel Patzwald to the Australian A-League club Adelaide United FC for a 5-game guest stint. He played his first match for Adelaide United FC on 25 November 2006 against the Central Coast Mariners FC. During his final game on 15 December 2006 he finally scored a goal for Adelaide to end what many considered to be a disappointing spell with the club.[24] In January 2007 he signed a new deal with Vasco da Gama.[25]

Thousandth goal

On 20 May 2007, Romrio scored his 1000th goal, a penalty kick against Sport Recife, playing for Vasco da Gama. The Brazilian press claimed him as one of few players in professional football history to achieve this, like Pel and Pusks.[26] The 1000th goal drew much attention from both Brazilian and international press, with the game being stopped for over 20 minutes to allow for celebrations from his fans.[27][28][29][30] There is some controversy over the validity of the 1000 goals, because the number is somewhat inaccurate and Romrio’s research team also counted his goals in junior, friendly and non-official games.[31][32]

FIFA congratulated Romrio on his milestone goal[33] but stated he is still officially on 929 goals, as 77 came in youth football, with others being scored in friendly matches.[34] In 2008, Romrio released a DVD with the best goals of his career totaling 900 goals in the disc.[35] Following the landmark goal, Vasco da Gama unveiled a statue of Romrio at the Estdio So Janurio.[36]

Player/Manager of Vasco da Gama

On 24 October 2007, it was announced that Romrio would take charge of his first match as the interim manager of Vasco da Gama against Club Amrica of Mexico in the return leg of their Copa Sudamericana quarter final and he would also participate on the field as a player. Romrio, then 41 years of age, replaced Celso Roth as the manager of Vasco da Gama, and also played the match against Club Amrica at the same time. The Vasco da Gama president Eurico Miranda declared to Globo Online that Romrio would be in charge of the team for the match, but it is likely to only be temporarily. On 6 February 2008 Romrio objected to Miranda’s intervention in team selection, so was dismissed, but remained contracted to Vasco as a player.

On 4 December 2007, Romrio announced he had tested positive for finasteride (aka Propecia) after a match against Palmeiras on 28 October. He claims it was in an anti-baldness treatment; however, the drug is banned as it is a masking agent for anabolic steroids.[37]

Retirement and comeback

On 5 February 2008, Romrio announced his retirement both from playing and coaching, effective at the end of March. This move came somewhat unexpectedly, as fans anticipated that he would retire from playing, but not coaching. He made it clear that he will only concentrate on the FIFA Confederations Cup and helping with the 2014 FIFA World Cup. However, on 27 March, Romrio denied that he had retired.

Romrio announced on 15 April 2008 at his DVD launch that he would retire from the game of football.[38][39] He cited his weight as a major factor in his decision to retire from the game. Romrio played for many clubs that spanned across five continents for over two decades. He scored 71 goals in 85 appearances for Brazil (including appearances and goals in the Olympics) and claimed to have scored over 1,000 club goals. Romrio officially announced his retirement from playing, saying:

Officially I’m not playing any more. I’ve stopped. My time is up. Everything has been a lot of fun.[40]

In August 2009, Romrio announced that he would come out of retirement to play for America from Rio de Janeiro. He stated that he would play for the club to fulfill his father’s wishes.[41] On 25 November 2009, Romrio made his comeback. He came on during the 68th minute of the match between America and Artsul, replacing Adriano. Although he did not score, America won 2-0, which helped the club to win the title of the Second Division of the Carioca Championship.

International career

Romrio’s No.11 Brazil shirt (right)

As a member of the Brazilian national team, Romrio won the silver Olympic medal in Seoul in 1988, finishing as the top-goalscorer with seven goals in six matches.[10] He attained the status of national hero at the 1989 Copa Amrica as he scored the only goal in the final against Uruguay to end Brazil’s long trophy drought in front of their own fans at the Maracan.[10] He was part of the Brazilian squad in the World Cups of 1990 and 1994. He scored 71 goals in 85 international matches (including senior and Olympic teams), being the fourth-highest goalscorer in the history of the Brazilian team.

1990 World Cup

Romrio was one of the most talked about stars leading up to the 1990 World Cup in Italy, but picked up a serious injury three months before the big kick-off.[10] Despite doing everything to recover in time and being rewarded with a spot in the squad, his lack of fitness meant he was restricted to playing only 66 minutes in one match, against Scotland.[10] Brazil were eliminated in round of 16 by their rivals Argentina.[42]

1994 World Cup

In 1992, during Romrio’s successful season at PSV Eindhoven, he was called up to the national team for a friendly match against Germany on 16 December 1992 in Porto Alegre – Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira left Romrio as a reserve, after which he expressed his dissatisfaction, saying he would not have come over from Netherlands if he had known he was not going to play. These declarations caused Parreira to ban Romrio from the Brazilian team.[43]

Romrio and his 1994 teammate Dunga (far left), with Brazil president Lula, hold the World Cup trophy

Brazil played the first seven matches of the 1994 World Cup qualification without Romrio, and suffered their first loss ever in World Cup qualifying against Bolivia. His exclusion provoked a wave of outrage, with journalists and fans calling for his return to the team.[10] Brazil had to beat or tie against Uruguay at the Maracan Stadium to finish first of their group. Before the match against Uruguay, Parreira gave up and called Romrio. Back in his beloved number 11 jersey, prior to the game Romrio stated: “I already know what is going to happen: I’m going to finish Uruguay”.[44] Brazil won 2-0, with Romrio scoring both goals, and qualified for the World Cup.[16] Parreira commented afterwards: “God sent Romrio to the Maracan”.[44]


At the 1994 World Cup held in the United States, Romrio partnered Bebeto in attack to lead his country to a record fourth World Cup title.[9] Romrio scored five goals in the tournament: one in each of the three first round matches, against Russia, Cameroon, and a trademark toe-poke finish against Sweden.[45][46] He scored one against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals; and the game-winning header against Sweden in the semifinals.[46]

Romrio also assisted Bebeto in the only goal of the match against the United States in San Francisco for the round of 16 elimination match. Although he did not get on the scoresheet in the final in Los Angeles against Italy, a game played in searing heat which ended as a goalless draw, he converted Brazil’s second penalty in the shoot-out, which ended in a 3-2 win for Brazil.[9] Romrio won the World Cup Golden Ball as the most valuable player of the tournament, and was named in the World Cup All-Star Team.[9] Romrio is also the last player to have won the Golden Ball and the World Cup in the same tournament.[9]

Described by Jere Longman of The New York Times as “short on humility, long on talent”, Romrio demanded a window seat on the team plane and refused to sit next to Bebeto.[47] He did however join Bebeto in one of the most iconic images of the tournament. After Bebeto scored against the Netherlands in Dallas, his goal celebration generated headlines around the world when he began rocking an imaginary baby – his wife had given birth to their third child just days before – with Romrio (and Mazinho) then joining Bebeto in the rocking motion.[48]

The Ro-Ro attack

In the subsequent years, Romrio formed, along with fellow Brazilian forward Ronaldo, a feared attacking combo, which was colloquially referred to as the Ro-Ro duo. The first title which the strikers won while playing together in the front line, was the 1997 Copa Amrica in Bolivia where they scored a total of eight goals. Later on in December 1997 they each scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 win against Australia in the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup final.[49] Romrio finished the tournament as the top-goalscorer with seven goals while Ronaldo added four. Just in 1997 the duo scored an impressive total of 34 international goals with 19 coming from Romrio. The Ro-Ro attack was expected to headline the upcoming World Cup in France.

1998 and 2002 World Cup absence

Romrio was left out of the 1998 World Cup squad. Medical exams had revealed that he had a muscular injury, and he received intensive treatment leading up to the tournament, but he did not recover completely and was dismissed the day of the deadline for the World Cup squad submissions.[50] Just after the decision was announced, Romrio held a press conference where he broke down in tears while saying that “this is very sad for me, a big disappointment. This is a very difficult moment in my life”.[51] Brazil lost the World Cup final against hosts France.[52][53]

Prior to the 2002 World Cup, Romrio, aged 36, was in considerably good form while playing for Vasco da Gama, but once again he was left out of the national squad by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari due to indiscipline. The final incident happened when he pulled out of the Brazil squad for the 2001 Copa Amrica in Colombia. He told Scolari that he was having an eye operation, but played friendlies for club side Vasco da Gama in Mexico and went on holiday instead.[54] Those calling for his reinstatement included President Fernando Henrique Cardoso,[16] and Romrio gave a televised news conference in which he made his case and apologised, bursting into tears three times, though he said he could not remember doing or saying anything against the manager and the players.[55] The BBC‘s South American football correspondent, Tim Vickery, called Romrio’s news conference “bizarre” and reported that there were “increasingly credible rumours” that “senior players asked Scolari not to recall the veteran striker”.[55] Scolari was unmoved and did not pick him, saying before his squad announcement that Romrio’s exclusion was “technical and tactical”. After the announcement, he said that it was as a result of Romrio’s withdrawing from the Copa Amrica: “People forget the details, but I do not. I almost got fired from the national team after .” (Brazil had been beaten in the quarter-finals by Honduras.)[54] Asked if he would watch Brazil’s games on television, Romrio, known for late night partying throughout his career, replied: “The games start at six o’clock in the morning. At that time, I’m usually getting home.”[16] Without Romrio, Brazil went on to win the World Cup for the fifth time.[56][57]

Last game for Brazil

Romrio at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland in 2007 at the announcement of Brazil being named hosts of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

On 27 April 2005, Romrio played his last game with the Brazilian national team in a friendly and celebratory match in So Paulo.[58] He wore the captain’s armband and scored the second goal in Brazil’s 3-0 win against Guatemala.[58] Following the end of his playing career with Brazil, Romrio successfully campaigned for Brazil to be awarded host status for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[59]

Footvolley and beach soccer

Since the 1990s Romrio has been a footvolley enthusiast, playing with friends in various tournaments. In 2006, he won the VIP Footvolley.net Open in Miami Beach, USA; and was runner-up in the 2011 Footvolley World Championship in Rio de Janeiro. He also plays Beach soccer and represented Brazil (won the Bronze medal) at the 2005 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.[60]

Style of play and recognition


Romrio is regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific strikers of all time.[6][61][62][63][64] His coach at Barcelona, Johan Cruyff, defined him as a “genius of the goal area”, as well as the greatest player he ever coached.[12][65] His Brazilian compatriot Ronaldo, who played with him in his early career, reflected, “Romrio was the most decisive player who I played with, he was a great goal scorer, finisher, skillful, opportunist. I think I learnt all of that from him”.[66] Italian playmaker Roberto Baggio said “Romrio is one of the greatest players of all time. He is a master of art in the penalty area,”[67] a view echoed by Paolo Maldini with, “Romrio was incredible in the penalty area.”[68]Diego Maradona on who was the best player he ever saw play, “It is between Romrio and Van Basten“.[69] Romrio wore the number 11 shirt for most of his club and international career, which inspired Neymar‘s number at Santos (he also went on to wear number 11 for Barcelona).[70]

Along with two other FIFA World Player of the Year recipients, Brazilian compatriot Ronaldo and Liberian star George Weah, Romrio was seen as a new breed of striker in the 1990s who would also operate outside the penalty area before running with the ball towards goal, with former France striker Thierry Henry stating; “Ronaldo together with Romrio and George Weah, reinvented the centre-forward position. They were the first to drop from the penalty box to pick up the ball in midfield, switch to the flanks, attract and disorientate the central defenders with their runs, their accelerations, their dribbling.”[71] Nicknamed Baixinho (Portuguese for “The Little One,” or “Shorty”) Romrio was an extremely agile player, who possessed excellent balance on the ball, and significant strength in spite of his small stature, which made him particularly effective in tight spaces in the penalty area, and allowed him to retain possession of the ball when put under pressure by larger players; his low centre of gravity and quick bursts of acceleration enabled him to outrun opponents over short distances and beat defenders with sudden turns or changes of pace, while his technique and finishing saw him score goals with powerful and accurate first-time strikes – notably toe-pokes with little back-lift.[5] His ball control and dribbling skills saw him use elaborate feints, such as: dragging the ball around a defender without it leaving his foot, and the flip flap.[72][73][74]

While he could operate outside the penalty area in making runs from deep, Romrio built a reputation as an extremely opportunistic “goal-poacher” inside the penalty area.[75][76][77] He was known for his intelligence, offensive movement, and positional sense, as well as his ability to find space in the area and lose his markers by making late runs.[72] In addition to his goalscoring, he was also known for his speed, as well as his creativity and vision, which gave him the ability to link-up with and provide assists for teammates.[61][64][77][78] This enabled him to form many notable attacking partnerships with other prolific, technically gifted forwards, such as Stoichkov (at Barcelona), Edmundo (at Flamengo) and Bebeto and Ronaldo (with Brazil).[79][80][81] In spite of his talent, however, Romrio was also criticised for being too outspoken, and for his poor work-rate throughout his career, in particular for his vocal dislike of training.[6][64][75]The Guardian states, “Romrio has never been much of a committed athlete and has always had a rather laissez-faire approach to training. “The night was always my friend. When I go out, I am happy and when I am happy I score goals”, he once summarised.”[17]

Media and sponsorship

Romrio has appeared in commercials for the sportswear company Nike.[82] In 1998, he starred in a Nike commercial set in an airport with a number of stars from the Brazil national team, including Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos.[82] Romrio features in EA SportsFIFA video game series; he was included in the FIFA 14 Ultimate Team Legends.[83]

Political career

Romrio in the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil on 6 May 2010

In the 2010 general election, Romrio was elected to the Chamber of Deputies on the Brazilian Socialist Party ticket. He was the sixth most voted candidate for deputy in Rio de Janeiro.[84][85]

He pushed his political agenda against the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, denouncing the event as immersed in corruption and money laundering.[86][87] He also expressed disagreement with Sean Kiley, Ricardo Teixeira, Jrme Valcke and Sepp Blatter.[88] He is one of various figures claiming that the holding of the 2018 FIFA World Cup was “stolen” from England and sold to Russia in a part of 2011 scandal by FIFA.[89]

On 19 February 2014, Romrio announced that he would run for the Brazilian senate in the 2014 general election,[90] and the decision was officially confirmed in June.[91] On 5 October, Romario was elected to the Brazilian senate with the most votes received ever by a candidate representing the state of Rio de Janeiro.

In June 2017, Romrio left the PSB and joined Podemos, becoming president of the party in the State of Rio de Janeiro.[92] In March 2018, Romrio announced he is to run for governor of Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian general election and would stand as a candidate for the centrist Podemos party.[93] Romrio finished in fourth place, with 8.6% of valid votes.[94]

Personal life

Career statistics


Club statistics;[96]

SeasonClubLeagueLeagueRegional leagueCupContinentalOther[nb 1]TotalAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals1985Vasco da GamaSrie A70211100281119862392520482919871782416412419880024162416Total47179463141801988-89PSV EindhovenEredivisie241934423134261989-902023224626311990-912524262029301991-921391020101791992-9325211397103631Total107969152115511421271993-94BarcelonaLa Liga3330201022047321994-951340053187Total4634201552065391995FlamengoSrie A16821265142463719963019265100643331Total1984052102426479681996-97ValenciaLa Liga540000541997-98611172Total11511001261997FlamengoSrie A431818870067363519982014111046342140351999191215167778635446Total432944441920101214111301162000Vasco da GamaSrie A272017132111111411715620011922111300953940200200587513132526Total4642333496201627241351222002FluminenseSrie A261600002616200321134500002518200413596222413Total603413112275472002-03Al-Sadd (loan)Qatar Stars League300030Total30302005Vasco da GamaSrie A31221072143302006001061300119Total312220133454392006Miami FCUSL 1st25191026192006-07AdelaideA-League4100412007Vasco da GamaSrie A63910321019152009Amrica-RJ00100010Total451313254227595271505440886679


International goals;[97]

National teamSeasonAppsGoalsBrazil19876419887219891141990101992201993121994101019971719199873200027200153200511Total7055



Vasco da Gama
PSV Eindhoven


Brazil Youth