It was no surprise that Romario was the man who brought Brazil to its first FIFA World Cup final in 24 years. The little striker had been in great shape in the United States in 1994 and scored a brilliant goal against Sweden’s last four opponents at the start of the tournament.
That the winner of the 80th minute came out of Romario’s head, however, raised a few eyebrows. The Barcelona striker was the smallest man on the pitch, just 5 feet 6 minutes, and spent the game amidst huge Swedish defenders.
He wasn’t used to scoring that way either. “You could probably count them on the fingers of one hand,” Romario joked when asked how many headers he had scored.
Brazil’s standout number 11, however, was finding a way to its destination, regardless of which route was required. “He ends up like nobody else,” said Bebeto, his strike partner. “He’s a born finisher. A lot of people think he just hangs around and does nothing, then suddenly it’s a goal.”
And while the header was one of its lesser qualities, it was a stroke thanks to the scary scorer’s instinct to predict where and when the ball would arrive.
“It is time,” said Thomas Ravelli, the goalkeeper who was struck by Romario’s header, afterwards. “If you have good timing, you can be good at headers whether you’re small.”
If Romario’s outstanding career has proven something, this size is certainly not everything when it comes to measuring football giants.
Did you Know?
Shirts are worn by stars of both Brazil and Sweden in the USA feature in the FIFA World Football Museum’s 1994 showpiece.