Romario rises to the occasion


  • Romario scored the semi-final winner against Sweden on this day in 1994
  • The little striker was the smallest man on the pitch by a full three inches
  • Brazil went on to win their first FIFA World Cup™ since 1970

That Romario was the man to put Brazil into their first FIFA World Cup Final in 24 years was no surprise at all. The little striker had been in blistering form at USA 1994 and had scored a brilliant goal against last-four opponents Sweden earlier in the tournament.

That the 80th-minute winner came from Romario’s head did, however, raise a few eyebrows. At just 5ft 6ins, the Barcelona striker was comfortably the smallest man on the pitch, and spent the match surrounded by giant Swedish defenders.

Nor was he accustomed to scoring in this manner. “You could probably count them on the fingers of one hand,” Romario joked afterwards when asked how many headers he had scored.

But where Brazil’s diminutive No11 excelled was in finding a way to goal, no matter what route was required. “He finishes like no one,” said Bebeto, his strike partner. “He’s a born finisher. A lot of people think he is just hanging around doing nothing, then suddenly, bang, it’s a goal.”

And while heading was one of his lesser attributes, this was a strike indebted to that uncanny goalscorer’s instinct of anticipating where and when the ball will arrive.

“It’s timing,” Thomas Ravelli, the goalkeeper beaten by Romario’s header, said afterwards. “If you have good timing, you can be good on headers, no matter if you are small.”

Certainly, if Romario’s stellar career proved anything, it is that size isn’t everything when it comes to measuring footballing giants.

Did you know?

Shirts worn by stars of both Brazil and Sweden in USA feature in the FIFA World Football Museum’s 1994 showpiece.

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