Falcao – The King Of Futsal
For years, Alessandro Rosa Vieira has been regarded as the world’s best futsal player. The man with the brilliant left foot, nicknamed “Falcao”, is aiming to win the only trophy still missing from his collection, the FIFA Futsal World Cup, in his homeland Brazil.
The FIFA Centennial World Player Gala chat took place in the Zurich Opera House on 20 December 2004 saw Ronaldinho crowned FIFA World Player of the Year and awards presented to superstars like Thierry Henry and Andriy Shevchenko. Yet only one player drew spontaneous applause from the thrilled audience. There were gasps of wonder and the words “unbelievable”, “fantastic” and “phenomenal” could be heard as video highlights of the world’s leading fursal player flashed up on the screen.
The praise and applause were for Alessandro Rosa Vieira, known in the world of futsal simply as “Falcao”. Four years ago, he was recognised as the best futsal player on the planet and, now 31, remains SO to this day.
More than two million people now play organised futsal worldwide, and that number is on the up. The appeal of futsal is limitless, and Falcao is an outstanding ambassador for the game. Those who warch him play immediately fall in love with the game. There seems to be no trick or feint that the left-footed Brazilian star does not know or master. Ihe small, hard ball obeys him like a well-trained puppy.
“Falcao is my idol,” says Ronaldinho, sounding like some star-struck teenager, ► and Robinho, another Brazilian football star, calls Falcao the “professor”.
DANCING WITH THE BALL
Born in the Brazilian metropolis of Sao Paulo, Falcao used to play in the street in front of his parents’ house when he was young. He liked nothing better than nutmegging his bewildered opponents, dribbling, shooting and showing off with scissor-kicks and overhead kicks, even on the asphalt surface. “Futsal is my life,’1 realised Falcao at an early age. “Football was too boring for me. It took far too long to get a touch of the ball.”
Falcao feels comfortable on the small pitch – it is where he belongs, a place where he is king and can dance with the ball. “I can’t dance without a ball – ask my wife! But I can dance with the ball, it happens automatically,” he says, laughing. He has futsal in his blood. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of talent,” he admits.
However, he would never have acceded to the throne had it not been for rigorous training-he plays futsal every day. He has been a professional player for half his life, and indeed is the highest-paid player in the world. “I’ve found fame and fortune,” says Falcao. According to reports, he is paid a monthly salary of some 25,000 US dollars by his club Malwee/Jaragua. Another source of income is “Falcao Sports”, the company that he founded. It comprises futsal schools, its own brand of clothing and the website www.falcaol2. com. Falcao also stars in a number of adverts, including one alongside his close friend Tlobinho.
When Falcao pulls on the Malwee/ Jaragua shirt with the number 12 on its back, every last seat is usually taken in the hall in Jaragua do Sol, the town with a population of 130,000 in the state of Santa Catatina. An average of 15,000 specratots attend the matches, 1,000 mote than watch the local football team, and Falcao is the crowds undisputed hero. The fans, many sporting shirts and caps adorned with the number 12, screech and cheer whenever he so much as touches the ball. A sports hall has now even been named after the playmaker. His team in Brazil has won every trophy there is to win. Thanks to Falcao, almost everyone of Brazil’s 180 million inhabitants knows what Malwee/Jaragua is and where Jaragua do Sol is located.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON …
Falcao made his debut for the Selecao, Brazil’s national team, as a 17-year-old and has won dozens of titles and trophies with the various clubs he has represented. There is not enough room to list them
all here. But he has never been a world champion. That may be about to change in October. The FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 in his homeland could be his crowning glory. “I want to win this title, that’s my biggest goal and my biggest dream,” says Falcao. He and his team have always been pipped by the Spaniards in the past, both in the final in Guatemala in 2000 and on penalties in the semi-final in Chinese Taipei in 2004. “Those were bitter defeats and the pain lasted a long time,” says Falcao.
These have not been the only setbacks in his otherwise glorious career. He has tried several times to establish himself in the world of football, but did not get past trials at Santos, the team he has idolised since childhood, Portuguesa or Palmeiras. Sao Paulo awarded him a six-month contract in 2005, but the coach at that time, Brazil’s former international goalkeeper Emerson Leao, only used Falcao in six games out of 21, so he returned to futsal.
He picked up where he left off immediately. In all, he has scored almost 250 goals for the national team and he is planning to add to that tally during the FIFA Futsal World Cup, where he will form part of a highly talented team featuring outstanding players such as goalkeeper Franklin, Lenisio, Schumacher, Neto and Vinicius.
And what lies in store for him afrer the FIFA Futsal World Cup? After all, Falcao is 31 and nearing che end of his career. The player has not given this 3 great deal of thought. Instead, he is delighted that at least one of his two sons looks set to follow in his footsteps. Six-year-old Enzo already has astonishing ball skills, and Falcao is visibly proud of him: “He is a real phenomenon,” he says, just like his father.