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2002 FIFA World Cup winner Lucio ready to play on into 40s
Rio de Janeiro: Lucio, a member of Brazil’s 2002 FIFA World Cup-winning squad, has cited force of habit for his decision to return to football at the age of 39.
After more than a year away from the game, the former Brazil captain has begun a three-month spell with Gama in Brazil’s Brasiliense league, reports Xinhua news agency.
Following the retirement of Kaka late last year, Lucio is now the only member of Brazil’s triumphant 2002 World Cup squad who is still playing.
“I feel great and super healthy,” the former Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan player told the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.
“I’m able to train and play well. It’s as if I were 34 years old again. My recovery after matches takes a little longer, but I’m happy. At my age, experience helps a lot. You learn to pace yourself and orientate your teammates in relation to their positioning.”
Before joining Gama last month, Lucio hadn’t played since parting ways with Indian Super League (ISL) outfit FC Goa at the end of 2016.
He hopes to continue for at least another year but will need to find another club to do so given that Gama’s season ends in April.
“The Brazilian football calendar always provokes discussion,” Lucio said. “While the big clubs play a lot of games, the smaller ones need to play more. The schedule needs to changed to allow small teams to play more regularly.”
The semi-professional Brasiliense league, in the metropolitan area of federal capital Brasilia, represents a stark contrast to the glamour of the Bundesliga or Italian Serie A, but that doesn’t bother the central defender.
“I’ve had a brilliant career, but I know that I can’t live in the past,” he said. “It was a difficult decision for me (to return), but playing is a habit and I want to try to keep going for another two years.”
“I know that I need to play at a high level to continue — at least matching the performances of my teammates — and that’s what I’m setting out to achieve.”(IANS)