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FLASHBACK: When Bolton Almost Signed Rivaldo

"I've got an article on Rivaldo in my pocket"

Alex Livesey

You have to admire Sam Allardyce's balls. They must be massive.

His tenure at Bolton Wanderers will go down in history as one of the finest we ever saw. He brought the club from the bottom of the First Division to the heights of the Premier League and UEFA Cup - being just a hair's breadth from qualifying for the Champions League along the way.

He made his name in reviving the careers of struggling 'names' such as Youri Djorkaeff, Jay Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo, as well as prolonging the top level careers of older players such as ex-Real Madrid captain Fernando Hierro.

One of Allardyce's failed coups however has gone down in club folklore: the attempt to sign Brazilian striker Rivaldo.

In 2004, Bolton were enjoying their fourth consecutive season in the top flight, and under Allardyce's control they would end up finishing a hugely creditable sixth, earning a first ever shot at the UEFA Cup.

The Brazilian had enjoyed a stellar career with the likes of Deportivo La Coruna, Barcelona and AC Milan, but in 2004 he was coming to the end of his time in Italy, and at 32 was no longer a spring chicken.

Allardyce made inquiries about Rivaldo's availability during the January transfer window and was told that the World Cup winner was unlikely to countenance a move to one of the Premiership's least fashionable sides. However, the manager utilised his legendary powers of persuasion, and the move was on.

His contract at Milan was terminated, with Rivaldo having spent the second half of the season back in Brazil playing for Cruzeiro, and having made just two appearances for Carlo Ancelotti's Milan team this season, his agent began approaching English clubs, including Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, with a view to Rivaldo ending his career in the Premiership. Even as a free agent, however, the player's wage demands, believed to be around £3 million a year, priced him out of the market.

Although there was plenty of interest, a lack of firm offers forced him to return to Brazil where a local pharmaceutical company funded his move to the Belo Horizonte side, Cruzeiro.
Although he scored for Brazil against Peru in November, Rivaldo, who played for Cruzeiro on reduced wages, left the club in February and has been unable to keep his place in the national team.

It was also reported at the time that Rivaldo, owner of 75 international caps and 34 goals for Brazil, considered a lucrative offer from the Saudi Arabian team Al Ittihad and also had approaches from Portugal's Porto, Espanyol in Spain and Spartak Moscow.

It was then that Allardyce struck a deal with the former World Player of the Year. Meeting in a Manchester hotel, the manager and chairman thrashed out terms on a one year contract, and shook hands, leaving with the impression that the deal had been done.

Big Sam even told Sky:

"We have taken in all kinds of waifs and strays, people who were out of shape and out of sorts and we've turned them into proper players again,"

"Sometimes it just comes down to putting an arm around a player and making him feel wanted again. Football can be a lonely environment when you are on a downer.

"Even the best players can feel lost when things turn against them which I think is what has happened in Rivaldo's case."

However, things soon took a turn for the worst. Scottish side Celtic entered the scene, and Rivaldo appeared to have his head turned away from the Reebok. After four weeks of to-ing and fro-ing, Allardyce said that he felt the forward would be signing for another club.

Then, famously, Bolton chairman Phil Gartside claimed to have received confirmation of the transfer being close:

"I've got a fax in my pocket which arrived this morning saying he wants to come to us.

"It also says he doesn't want to play in Scotland.

"We are still hoping to do something with him. We've offered him a deal which he's accepted financially and it's just a case of getting together with him to put pen-to-paper."

Then, everything collapsed.

Wanderers lost patience with the Brazil star, with Gartside telling the club's website:

"I think as far as we are concerned, the Rivaldo situation is finished,"

"He indicated by talking to people in Qatar he is looking at the money aspect, not the football aspect."

Gartside added:

"We were told he wanted to resume his international career by playing in the Premiership.

"But that doesn't appear to be his main focus. He is not going to get that kind of exposure if he goes to Qatar."

Rivaldo held talks with the Qatar FA on Monday, but it had been thought unlikely that he would sign a deal with them.

The 32-year-old had been told a move over there would end his international career.

However, Qatar FA technical director Manfred Honer claimed:

"Rivaldo has signed for us. He has been here for three days and is finding a place to live."

Instead, the player moved to Greece, to join Olympiakos. After two successful seasons he moved across Athens to join AEK, before winding down his career playing in Uzbekistan, Angola, and for four different sides in Brazil.

Another one that got away.

Career Statistics

Season

Club

League

League

Regional
League

Cups

Continental

Other

Total

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

1991-92

Santa Cruz

Série B

4

6

18

8

4

2

-

-

-

-

26

16

1992

Mogi Mirim

Série A

-

-

31

13

-

-

-

-

-

-

31

13

1993

Corinthians

Série A

19

11

3

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

22

11

1994

Palmeiras

Série A

29

14

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

29

14

1995

16

7

8

10

4

2

6

5

-

-

34

24

1996

-

-

25

18

9

4

-

-

-

-

34

22

1996-97

Deportivo

La Liga

41

21

-

-

5

1

-

-

-

-

46

22

1997-98

Barcelona

La Liga

34

19

-

-

7

8

6

0

4

1

51

28

1998-99

37

24

-

-

3

2

6

3

2

0

48

29

1999-00

31

12

-

-

5

1

14

10

-

-

50

23

2000-01

35

23

-

-

5

2

13

11

-

-

53

36

2001-02

20

8

-

-

0

0

13

6

-

-

33

14

2002-03

Milan

Serie A

22

5

-

-

3

1

13

2

-

-

38

8

2003-04

0

0

-

-

0

0

1

0

1

0

2

0

2004

Cruzeiro

Série A

-

-

7

2

-

-

3

0

-

-

10

2

2004-05

Olympiacos

Superleague

23

10

-

-

2

2

9

1

-

-

34

13

2005-06

22

7

-

-

2

2

5

2

-

-

29

11

2006-07

25

17

-

-

0

0

6

0

-

-

31

17

2007-08

AEK Athens

Superleague

35

12

-

-

-

-

8

3

-

-

43

15

2008-09

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

0

-

-

1

0

2008

Bunyodkor

Uzbek League

12

7

-

-

1

0

4

2

-

-

17

9

2009

30

20

-

-

2

1

9

1

-

-

41

22

2010

11

6

-

-

3

3

5

2

-

-

19

11

2011

São Paulo

Série A

30

5

9

1

4

0

3

1

-

-

46

7

2012

Kabuscorp

Girabola

21

11

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

21

11

2013

São Caetano

Série B

7

0

10

2

2

0

-

-

-

-

19

2

2014

Mogi Mirim

Série C

-

-

4

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

4

0

Career total

504

245

115

54

61

31

125

49

7

1

813

380