Romario is number 21 in 90min's Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series


​It really is astonishing that Brazilian legend Romario only retired in 2009. 


It's a testament to the longevity, however, of a man who took no prisoners, did it all his own way, and scored goals right up until the bitter end. 


Distilling 24 years down to four moments that encapsulate one of the most celebrated careers in South American football history is no easy task, but here they are.


Sinking Real Madrid at Camp Nou

Upon arriving at ​Barcelona from PSV, Romario wasted no time in making an impact. He netted a casual 30 goals in 33 games in his debut league season, three of which came in a stunning derby showing against ​Real Madrid


His memorable hat trick came in a 5-0 January El Clasico demolition, the pick of the goals shown above as he took a pass from Pep Guardiola and executed an ankle-snapping 180 degree turn before slotting past Paco Buyo. 


Dragging Brazil to World Cup Glory

SOCCER-WORLD CUP-1994-BRAZIL-ROMARIO-TROPHY

The 1994 World Cup, from start to finish, was very much the 'Romario Show'. By now he was hitting his prime, and after dragging his country to the tournament with a match-winning double against Uruguay, he would net five goals in the finals as Brazil went on to lift the trophy for the first time since 1970. 


Only in the 1-0 win over the United States in the last 16, did he fail to hit the back of the net at any stage. He scored from open play in their other five matches, and buried his penalty in the final shootout with Italy. 


Of Brazil's successes, this one was infamous, with their focus on defensive structure infuriating the samba purists back home. Had they not had Romario's formidable threat leading the line, however, their 11-goal attack would have been far less potent. 


World Player of the Year 1994

No huge surprise, then, when he was named FIFA's World Player of the Year for 1994, having finished as runner-up to Roberto Baggio a year earlier. 


So just this, the Spanish title, the World Cup and World Cup Golden Ball to show for his efforts then, in a year in which he punched Diego Simeone in the face and capped off by leaving Barca for Flamengo. 

I did say he did things his own way...


1997 Hero(ro)ics


While a move to Brazil nowadays perhaps signifies the beginning of the end, but not quite so for this man. It would be another 14 years before he would hang up his boots for the final time, and he'd have a brief foray back into Europe with Valencia in 1996/97. 

It was during this time that the 'Ro-Ro' partnership (see, that nonsensical headline did have a purpose) between him and Ronaldo went absolutely nuts on the international stage. The two netted 34 goals between them (19-15) in 1997, capped off with a hat-trick each against Australia in a 6-0 Confederations Cup final victory. 


Romario, typically, took home the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot for the tournament. 


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!


90min's 'Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time' can be found here.


Number 50: Luka Modric

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin

Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl

Number 39: Kevin Keegan

Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov

Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon

Number 36: Johan Neeskens

Number 35: Xavi Hernandez

Number 34: Luis Suarez

Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Number 32: Andres Iniesta

Number 31: Rivelino

Number 30: Bobby Moore

Number 29: Socrates

Number 28: Sandor Kocsis

Number 27: Lothar Matthaus

Number 26: Ronaldinho

Number 25: Ruud Gullit

Number 24: Bobby Charlton

Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza

Number 22: ​Raymond Kopa