Wednesday 10 November 2021, 20:00

The futsal world hails retiring Ricardinho

  • Ricardinho inspired Portugal to their first FIFA Futsal World Cup crown in October

  • He has just announced his retirement from the international game

  • The futsal world showers him in praise

How could he possibly top that? Last month Ricardinho, 18 years after making his international debut, and merely six months after lying in a hospital bed, fearing he may never play again, lifted the adidas Golden Ball as Portugal conquered the FIFA Futsal World Cup™ for the first time.

“It’s the greatest moment of my career, the greatest day of my life,” raved the ecstatic 36-year-old. “I’ve waited my entire career for this trophy.” Yesterday, he announced that international career had ended. FIFA spoke to futsal legends and current superstars in homage to O Mágico (The Magician).

“I was lucky that my emergence in futsal fell in Ricardinho’s era. He had a great influence on me, in terms of both skill on the court and attitude towards his profession. He respects futsal – that's probably how I can explain it best. He respects fans, opponents, everyone involved in the game. He understands that he has a great influence and uses it beneficially. Futsal, like football, like any other sport, should bring people together and Ricardinho clearly demonstrates exactly how this can be done.” Sergey Abramov, Russia captain, to FIFA “Ricardinho is undoubtedly one of the greatest names in futsal history. His enormous technical quality, combined with his competitiveness, has led him to achieve the greatest milestones both on a personal level, where he is considered one of the best players in the world, and on a collective level for his clubs and the national team. Futsal will miss him, and the fans of our sport, who have enjoyed him so much over the years, will miss him especially.” Kike Boned, Best Player in the World for 2009, to FIFA “In life, more than trophies, titles and championships, your legacy is the best example that can exist. What pride to have been part of your journey and to have contributed to the legacy. Many, many thanks!” Jorge Braz, Portugal coach, to the FPF “He’s the type of player who can decide things with his talent – those players are difficult to stop because of their unpredictability. In tight games they can make the difference. In addition to being flashy, he was a good decision-maker. He was part of the elite, one of those players who people wanted to see. He has undoubtedly left his mark and is one of the most important players in futsal history.” Vicente De Luise, Chile coach, to FIFA

“He’s a great athlete with a fantastic story. He’d already left his mark on the World Cup, and now he’s brought the curtain down on his career by delivering the World Cup that he had worked so hard to deliver to his country. I’m really happy to be his friend and to have been an inspiration for him. He’s left his legacy. Thank you, Ricardinho. Futsal is grateful.” Falcao, four-time Best Player in the World and Ricardinho's hero, to FIFA “Without any doubt Ricardinho was the most important player in Portuguese futsal and one of the most important in world futsal. We all lived magic moments watching the dribbles and goals of ‘Mágico’. I had the pleasure of playing many finals against him. Unfortunately, the moment to say goodbye to the national team comes for everyone, but he leaves Portugal as European and world champions, and anyone would be proud of that. I think the whole world has to be grateful to him for what he did for futsal. Thank you, Ricardinho.” Ferrao, reigning two-time Best Player in the World, to FIFA

“A great player is leaving the national team, a historic figure in the sport. We need many more Ricardinhos in our sport, as they are a brand and a reference to be able to sell futsal. Very few in history have his quality. When Portugal won the World Cup, I felt sorry as an Argentinean, but I was happy for him. The greats like Manuel Tobias, Falcao, Javi Rodriguez had their World Cup, and he deserved his too. He is in that category of player who is the franchise of a sport. Ricardinho, credit to you for leaving when you're still active and you're still at the top. Not many people understand that. In time he will appreciate that he left at the right time.” Diego Giustozzi, Argentina's FIFA Futsal World Cup-winning coach, to FIFA “On his sporting qualities, Ricardinho is among the greatest ever alongside Falcao, Manoel Tobias and Paulo Roberto. He is one of those players who breaks scripts, is colourful but at the same time effective, and brings people to arenas. He perfectly understood the world he lived in – marketing, the importance of the image and social networks – and it has been a blessing for the sport as a product. He helped futsal to reach new heights in terms of media exposure. The greats are measured by their successes with the national team, and what he lacked was achieved with the European title and then the World Cup. That meant a golden finishing touch to his career with Portugal and the entry into the Olympus of futsal.” Javier Lozano, a two-time FIFA Futsal World Cup winner, to FIFA

“Ricardinho is, without any doubt, a huge icon in the history of Portuguese futsal, and he deserves to be. Portuguese futsal must pay a worthy tribute to him, and world futsal must hail the magic one of modern futsal. I’m happy that he managed to become a world champion for his country. What a shame that this moment has unfortunately arrived. I want to take this opportunity to ask God to give you the best for your life and the lives of all your family. Hugs, champion.” Manoel Tobias to FIFA “There are no words to describe Ricardinho. As soon as I arrived in Spain I realised how difficult it was to play against him. Then I had the opportunity to play alongside him for one year. I saw, during training and matches, just how much he deserved to win everything he’d won in his career. He’s unique – and not just on the court. Off it he was always helping those who needed it. He’s a sensational guy. And for Portugal, he transformed everything for them. He inspired them to the European title and now the world title. He deserved the World Cup and I was really happy for him. It will always be an honour for me to say that he was my team-mate. Ricardinho, thank you for everything you did for futsal.” Pito, Brazil superstar, to FIFA

“For me it’s been a huge privilege to play against Ricardinho since 2007. He took futsal to new heights, his tricks and plays exploded futsal’s popularity like Falcao’s did before him. Ricardinho really is a ball magician. I’m a big fan of his and I have one of his shirts – this gives me great pride. It’s also a huge privilege to call him my friend. This year I really wanted to become a world champion, but unfortunately Brazil didn’t manage it. When he won the World Cup, I was really happy for him. For everything he’s done for the sport he deserved to go out as a world champion. It was even better because of the way he did it. He’s a fighter and the heavy ball was his life. Ricardinho, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything – you are magnificent. All the success in the world to you, always and forever.” Rodrigo, Thailand 2012 winner and Brazil captain, to FIFA “There is a before and after in the world of futsal with Ricardinho. He is a guy who has made fans, including football fans, look at futsal and know this sport. He is the Messi or Cristiano of futsal. I had the opportunity to be with him in Japan, and I remember a conversation I had with him where we talked about how important his arrival was for Japanese futsal. He was an ambassador, a person who filled arenas, with endless queues of people lining up to have their photo taken with or ask for his autograph. What impressed me most about him was the kindness he had for, and the time he spent with, futsal fans. This was very unusual. When he came to Spain, his arrival was a turning point in futsal. Children and adults came to the arenas to watch Ricardinho. He’s been futsal’s biggest draw. Incredible goals and dribbles, always with a smile regardless of the result. He’s a star, a legend and it will be difficult to replace him. He will be missed a lot.” Miguel Rodrigo, futsal coach, to FIFA

“Ricardinho is a futsal legend. He is the best player of all time and the one children look up to. We owe him a lot because futsal is much better known thanks to his crazy [skills] and his dribbles. For me to be able to share a dressing room with him in the Portugal national team is something incredible. I am very proud of this, and to have him as my friend. He is even better off the court than on it, so imagine what he is like as a person.” Edu Sousa, the Portugal goalkeeper, to FIFA