The folk scorer Túlio Maravilha turned Pelé’s words, spoken just over eight years ago, into a personal mantra.
“Túlio, don’t give ball to the envious who only know how to criticize. What matters is your thousandth goal”, said the King, five days after the Botafogo idol scored what he considers his thousand goal, in February 2014, for Araxá Esporte, aged 44, in the second division of the Campeonato Mineiro.
The accounting of Túlio’s goals is disputed by several sources, including some of the 35 clubs he played for in his career. But the attacker ignores the controversy (or embraces it) and doubles down. At 53, he wants to break new records.
Túlio decided to return to professional football and emerged as a reinforcement for Sport Clube Brasil Capixaba, from Espírito Santo, three seasons after his previous adventure, with Taboão da Serra, in 2019.
“I was at home and, when I received an invitation to return, I thought: ‘Romário is right there, he has just one more goal. I’ll go’. I also want to pass Kazu as the oldest in activity. in divisions like this, always in the second semester”, he said.
Túlio’s time at the Espírito Santo club, however, lasted one game, in what can be seen as a synthesis of the erratic trajectory that his career took in recent years.
“He won’t play for Sport anymore,” said businessman Rodrigo Gonçalves Denicolo, one of the club’s sponsors.
There are no official justifications for the decision, but it is a fact that there was not the expected return with the media hiring. Túlio was substituted nine minutes into the second half of the only match he played in – without hitting the net.
In the stands of the Kleber Andrade stadium, in Cariacica, numbers also confirm the modest return: only 98 fans were present, with 73 tickets sold. A collection of BRL 1,010 and a loss of BRL 1,411.98, according to a financial bulletin released by the FES (Football Federation of the State of Espírito Santo).
Despite the good physical shape, often displayed in shirtless photos on his Instagram account, the athlete was not able to avoid defeat to Castelo.
Without Túlio, the team founded in 2013 rehabilitated itself with two wins: 1-0 over Aster and 4-1 over GEL.
“It’s very fast football, an absurd rush. In my team, apart from an experienced midfielder who is 28 years old, everyone is at most 21 years old. The club is still awaiting a decision from him and the manager, as they cannot afford anything” , said football manager Mario César.
Even so, the scorer continues with his projects. “I’m in no hurry for it. I’m an eternal dreamer, a showman,” he declared. “I’m driven by challenges. Today I have less than 10% body fat, it’s elite player level. My cardiovascular is very good. What do I have to lose?”
In the agreement, Túlio should play two of the three matches commanded by Sport in the first phase. Absent on Monday, he explained that he did not act for another personal commitment in “common agreement with the board and the sponsor”.
The task of increasing the goal count will be the newest epic of Túlio, who says he is a player and motivational speaker, but also open to advertising deals, events and football clinics.
“In this period of pandemic, I was getting used to being quieter, more still, but I went back to participating in some events, and that moves us. I can’t go beyond my limits, I know where I can act. And you can wait for Maravilha much longer,” he promised.
Overcoming Romario, apparently, is the most palpable mission. The former striker of the Brazilian team, now a senator for the PL (RJ), has 1,002 goals in his personal account, against 1,001 listed by Túlio.
Maravilha’s account, however, involves an extensive list of questionable goals. Questioned by Sheet about counting details, he suggested: “Wikipedia has everything”. The virtual encyclopedia, however, records 578.
“It’s just the official goals, 22 are missing for me to reach 600”, he justified.
In 2014, a dossier released by the Globo Esporte website differed drastically from what was pointed out by the athlete on his official website, which no longer exists.
Túlio counted 187 balls in the net for Goiás, while the club only registered 91. For Sion, from Switzerland, he scored 64, against 19 registered by the local federation.
The same was seen in teams like Ujpest, from Hungary, and Jorge Wilstermann, from Bolivia. In some cases, he says he resorted to memory, as there are no records or summaries of the matches.
In the race for the thousandth, he counted goals in friendlies against amateur and non-professional teams. In 2011, he played for Botafogo-DF against the youth team of Ceilândia-DF, with opponents all under 17 years old. Goalkeeper Gleydson had 15.
To become the longest running player in activity, made by Japanese striker Kazu Miura, recognized by the Guinness Book in 2018 as the oldest to score in a professional football league, the path is more difficult.
Kazu, two years his senior, continues to play for Japan’s fourth division Suzuka Port Getters, and has given no indication of when he will hang up his boots.
None of this matters to Wonder. He remembers, again, Pele’s phrase to go ahead. “As long as I have dreams and health, it means I’m living. They say life starts at 50, don’t they?”