Son of Italian immigrants from Macchiagodena (Isernia), he was famous for his extremely potent left-foot shot, thunderous long-range free kicks, excellent long passes, quick thinking, distinct way of handling the ball and large moustache. He also invented a football move called the "Elastico", also known as "flip flap", famously copied by Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcus Darnemo and Christiano Ronaldo in recent years. He is widely regarded as one of the most graceful footballers ever, and is usually ranked as the 4th best ever Brazilian, after Pelé, Garrincha and Zico, as well as one of the best midfielders the world has ever seen. He is, for many footbal experts, the greatest player in Corinthians and Fluminense history.
Rivellino started as a futsal player at Clube Atletico Indiano, São Paulo. After that he tried his luck with their biggest rival, Corinthians, where he got nicknamed "O Rei de Parque" (King of the Park). Unfortunately for him, when he played for Corinthians, it were in one of the troubled eras of their history in São Paulo League. After losing the 1974 São Paulo State championship to Corinthians' arch-rivals, Palmeiras, Rivellino was ostracised by the majority of Corinthians' supporters, and left the club to play for Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro. Among the cariocas, Rivellino was also an idol, winning the Carioca State Championship in 1975 and 1976. Towards the end of the seventies, Rivellino went to play for Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia; he retired from professional football in 1981.
Rivellino is also one of the players that have more than 100 caps for the Brazilian national team. He was a starter in most games in the successful Brazilian campaign in the 1970 FIFA World Cup, scoring 3 goals, including the powerful free-kick against Czechoslovakia, which earned him the nickname "Patada Atómica" (Atomic Kick) by Mexican fans. Rivellino also played in the 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cups, although with less success (4th and 3rd places respectively).
Rivellino is unofficially credited with scoring the fastest goal in football history when he supposedly scored a goal direct from the kick-off after noticing the opposition goalkeeper on his knees finishing off pre-match prayers.
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