Monday, May 05, 2008

Brazil´s Best Footballer is from Chile

Jorge Valdivia Leads Palmeiras to win Sao Paulo State Championship
It was a week-end of exciting football all over Brazil as most state championships in this nation of 190 million people came to an end.

In Sao Paulo, the industrial capital of Brazil, all attention was focused on the Palestra Italia Stadium, home ground of the Palmeiras F.C that represents the Italian community but also has millions of fans all over the country.

The Palmeiras fans were anxious to see their team defeat Ponte Preta and end the 12 year dry spell of not having won any tournament, except for 1999, when Palmeiras won the Libertadores Cup (South American Champions league). The Palestra Italia was full to its 30,000 capacity and many thousands were left out since the day before the police had reported that many tickets had been forged by a gang that stole the printing machine from the stadium.
Fundamental in helping Palmeiras win its 22nd Sao Paulo State Championship (known by the locals as Paulista) has been Jorge Valdivia, a 24 year old attacking midfielder that was transferred in 2006 from Chilean club Colo Colo. At first Valdivia had a hard time winning a permanent place in the Palmeiras squad but after six months he had become the favorite of the fans not only in Sao Paulo but also in the rest of Brazil that nicknamed him “The Magician”.

The green Palmeiras shirt with Valdivia´s name on the back has become the most sold in Sao Paulo sports stores. In 2007 Valdivia was voted “Best Attacking Midfielder” by the Brazilian press and during this year’s championship his goals were crucial to get Palmeiras into the final after defeating archrivals Corinthians (1-0) and Sao Paulo F.C. (2-0). During the first half against Ponte Preta on Sunday, Palmeiras were already 2 goals up but it was Valdivia that wrapped up the match in the 70th minute as he scored a spectacular goal (his ninth in the tournament) with a long range shot after dribbling four rival players. The Palmeiras fans went into ecstasy as they sensed they were well on the way to reaching their objective and began to shout “We are the Champions” while setting off fireworks, green flares and smoke bombs as play continued. Alex Mineiro scored two more goals and also became leading goalscorer of this year’s Paulista championship with 15 goals. After the match Brazilian TV highlighted Valdivia´s goal and statements where he declared that along with the birth of his daughter, this was the most important moment in his life. Now Palmeiras fans are worried since the club has received offers of up to US$ 40 million from several European clubs that want to hire Valdivia. The “torcida” (organized supporters club) has begun a fundraising campaign in order to raise Valdivia´s salary and allow the Chilean player to continue at Palmeiras and help the team win this year’s “Brasileirao” (Brazilian National Championship) that will begin in a few weeks. What will decide the fate of Brazil’s most popular footballer? The devotion of the Palmeiras fans or the club’s financial needs due to a debt of several million dollars?

Results from other State Championship finals:

Rio de Janeiro: Flamengo 3 - Botafogo 1
Rio Grande do Sul: Internacional 8 - Juventude 1
Minas Gerais: Cruzeiro 1- Atletico Mineiro 0
Parana : Atletico Parana 2 - Coritiba 1
Bahia: Vitoria 5 – Itabuna 1

1 comment:

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Jesper Gronkjaer
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