#1 his season debut and von shushu zhang 21.02.2019 02:56

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Former Brazil and Barcelona star Rivaldo officially retired on Saturday after a 24-year career that he said was built "upon a miracle" that allowed him to overcome financial challenges and disappointments. The 41-year-old midfielder, a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, hadnt been playing at a top level for several years and finally decided to end his career with an announcement on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. FIFAs player of the year in 1999, Rivaldo had been playing sparingly for minnow Brazilian club Mogi Mirim. He is expected to remain as the president of Mogi Mirim, where his 18-year-old son is now playing. "With tears in my eyes today I would like first to thank God, my family and all the support (and) the affection that I received during those 24 years as a player," Rivaldo said in a statement published both in Portuguese and in English. "Today, I communicate to all my fans in the world (that) my history as a player came to the end." The talented playmaker thrived in Brazil and abroad in the 1990s, winning two Spanish league titles with Barcelona and the 2003 Champions League trophy with AC Milan, which was his last top European club, before spending time in Greece and finally returning to Brazilian football four years ago. The last top team he played in Brazil was Sao Paulo in 2011, but he was released after an unsuccessful stint in which he played only a few matches as a starter. Before rejoining Mogi Mirim, the team that launched him to the national scene in 1994, Rivaldo played for Kabuscorp in Angola and then for Sao Caetano in Brazil, which he left last year citing knee pain. In his statement, Rivaldo mentioned the hardships that he had to overcome early in his career. He said there were "many obstacles, challenges, waivers, longings, disappointments," but also "much greater joys, achievements, growth (and) change" that allowed a "distant dream" to come true. "I built my career upon a miracle, (living) in (the small city of) Paulista, no financial resources, no businessman, incentives only of my family, discredited by doctors and trainers," he said. "With persistence, dedication and especially with the hand of God, I came to be recognized as the best player in the world, world champion." Along with his statement, Rivaldo published a photo of him with tears in his eyes and another of him alongside his son, Rivaldo Jr. Last month, they got to play together in a Mogi Mirim match and Rivaldo said he fulfilled a longtime dream. Rivaldo also played in the 1998 World Cup, when Brazil was runner-up to France. With the Selecao, he also won the 1997 Confederations Cup, the 1999 Copa America and a bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Rivaldo also previously played for traditional Brazilian clubs Palmeiras and Corinthians, as well as for Deportivo La Coruna in Spain, Olympiacos and AEK Athens in Greece, and Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan. 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In contrast, Betis was left 11 points from safety after a dismal performance that at times bordered on self-destruction amid some questionable refereeing decisions.(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder got one superstar back and are hoping an MVP will return soon, as they open a three-game road trip Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. Kevin Durant is nearing his season debut and has been out the entire campaign following foot surgery. Durant underwent the procedure in mid-October and had a fracture to his right foot repaired. Thunder head coach Scott Brooks doesnt have an exact timetable for Durants anticipated return to a team with a 5-12 record. Dont know, Brooks said. Dont know. We just want to continue to put up good days on top of each other. Well let you know at the appropriate time. Durant was hobbled by a Jones fracture, which is a broken bone at the base of the small toe. He earned his first career MVP award after averaging 32 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting over 50 percent from the field over 81 games last season. He became only the fourth player in league history to win four scoring titles in five years, joining Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and George Gervin. The slender scoring machine has returned to practice and continues to progress well, according to Brooks. Durant will soon join an Oklahoma City squad riding a two-game winning streak after a six-game slide. Russell Westbrook returned from a hand issue Friday and posted 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in just 24 minutes. He came out and played great, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said of Westbrook. He was in playoff mode. You could tell when you walked into the gym yesterday. Brooks is happy to have one of his main contributors back on the floor. Russell makes players around him better, Brooks said Saturdday.dddddddddddd Thats what the great players do. Thats what he showed us last night ... who he is and what hes about. Serge Ibaka had 14 points and six rebounds, Jeremy Lamb scored 13 points off the bench and Reggie Jackson added 10 for the Thunder, who shot 44.2 percent versus the Knicks and had a 57-33 advantage in rebounds. Steven Adams pulled down a game-best 13 rebounds for OKC. Oklahoma City, which enjoyed a nice rest and had time to jell more as a team at practice, is only 1-7 on the road and will make stops in Philadelphia and Detroit on the road swing. The Pelicans have lost three in a row and are back home briefly after two unsuccessful trips to Atlanta and Washington. In Saturdays 83-80 loss to the Wizards in the second game of a back-to-back, Anthony Davis led all scorers with 30 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Jrue Holiday chipped in 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting and Ryan Anderson rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points. We cant worry about this game or the game yesterday, said Davis. We have to come out and play. Do what we do, defend, and try to get some easy buckets. New Orleans shot 37 percent from the floor and made only 6-of-17 3-pointers. The Pelicans are 4-2 at home and will head west later this week to face the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers and LA Lakers. Oklahoma City went 2-1 against New Orleans last season and had a 10-game winning streak in this series stopped with a 101-89 setback in the Big Easy on April 14. Tyreke Evans poured in 41 points in that one for the Pelicans, who are just 2-14 in the past 16 meetings between the teams. OKC has won six of the last eight trips to the Crescent City. 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