Brazil's Romário returns to training at age 58, scores twice and keeps sharp tongue

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian soccer hero Romário returned to training on Thursday at age 58, almost two decades after he retired from the sport, and needed just a few minutes to show he remains a prolific scorer.

The 1994 World Cup winner turned politician netted two goals as he practiced with much younger players at struggling Rio de Janeiro club América, of which he is the president.

América will play in Rio state's second division championship this year. Romarinho, one of the sons of the former Barcelona star, is in its squad.

“My biggest goal here is to have the chance to play with my son,” an exhausted Romário told journalists after the training. “Many athletes have that objective. LeBron James wants to play with his son next year (in the NBA). Rivaldo also had that chance. I want that too.”

Also famous for his sharp tongue, which has Pelé, Zico and Mário Zagallo among its victims, Romário chose himself as a target this time.

“I am very tired. I will soon need a stretcher to pick me up,” he said. “For a man who has not trained for 16 years, in general, I managed to run a little. But I want to make one thing very clear — I will not play the entire championship. My idea is to play for a few minutes in some matches. What matters the most in this competition is América.”

América will play its first league match on May 18. Romario became its president in 2023, aiming to get the club back in the state's first division with local giants Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama and Botafogo.

Both goals Romário scored came in a reduced pitch section of the practice, both in his old style; sharp finishes from close range in the penalty box.

Famously not a fan of penalty kicks, Romário has apparently changed his mind for his return to the sport.

“If there is a penalty, our club president will ask to take it,” Romário jokingly said. “If the coach says no, he will be fired and the club president will take the penalty anyway.”


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