Premier Futsal League - The Legend of Falcao
At the age of 39, Alessandro Rosa Vieira who is better known as Falcao is recognised as the most popular Futsal player to grace the pitch. The sport is, according to FIFA, the fastest growing indoor sport in the world and Falcao's popularity has grown in line with it.
The Brazilian currently represents Chennai 5s in the ongoing Premier Futsal League which has managed to create waves in India. Falcao's glorious career goes way back to the 1980s.
Alessandro was born in the Edu Chaves neighbourhood, in the north of Sao Paulo where he spent most of his youth. When he was 12 years old, the father of a friend of his was playing at a club called Guapira. He was persuaded to part-take in a trial and the club was eventually impressed with young Alessandro and that was the first team he played for.
How he got the nickname ‘Falcao’
Alessandro's nickname Falcao comes from his father John Eli Vieira. Vieira used to play amateur football in the lower areas of Sao Paulo and was quite popular. Due to his style of play being similar to the then Brazillian player Paulo Roberto Falcao, Alessandro's father was nicknamed as Falcao by his teammates and the people.
When Alessandro accompanied his father to the game, he was called ‘Falcaozinho’ by the people. The name picked up from then on, and Alessandro is now known to the world as Falcao.
In 1992, Falcao impressed the popular Brazillian club Corinthians and was scouted to play for their youth team. Within a year, he broke into the senior Futsal team and managed to impress many around the country. He had a few brief stints at GMChevrolet, Atletico Mineiro, Rio De Janerio, Sao Paulo and Banespa, while his popularity was growing in Brazil.
In his career that has lasted over twenty years, Falcao has won nearly 100 titles with the club and national teams. He has also over 60 individual awards to his name.
Falcao's most important moment in his career came in 1998 when he was called up to play for the Brazillian national Futsal team. He was given the number 12 jersey which was used by the former captain Vander Iacovino. He was a vital player for the Brazillian teams in both the 2000 and 2004 FIFA Futsal World Cup.
In 2000, Brazil lost the finals 4-3 to Spain in heartbreaking fashion. In 2004, Brazil went one place worse as they picked up the Bronze medal. Despite winning both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot awards in 2004, Falcao expressed his pain on being unable to win a World Cup for his country.
In 2008, Brazil demolished each of their opponents in the group stage of the Futsal World Cup, scoring 49 goals in 4 games, while conceding just 1 goal. After a comfortable 4-2 win against Russia in the semi-finals, Brazil faced Spain, the winners of both the 2000 and 2004 editions of the tournament.
Brazil took the lead on two occasions during the game but Spain found their way back on both occasions. Falcao’s quest of revenge against Spain would end in a penalty shoot-out which the Brazilians won 4-3 to win the World Cup. He finally laid his hands on the trophy and to add to his joy, he was also adjudged the player of the tournament for the second time.
Falcao had a chance to double the number of his World Cup winners medals as Brazil travelled to Thailand for the World Cup in 2012. Brazil once again made their way to the finals without any trouble, notably destroying Panama by a scoreline of 16-0.
In the finals, they faced old rivals Spain once again. Spain was on its way to World Cup number 3 but Falcao had other plans as he scored the equalising goal in the 37th minute to make it 2-2. In extra time, Neto scored the winning goals to win Brazil its 7th Futsal World Cup title.
Another interesting story about Falcao is his love for football. The Futsal legend often dreamt of playing the 11 vs 11 version of the game. His dream became a reality when he made his debut for Sao Paulo in the Campeonato Paulista in January 2005.
After coming on in the latter stages of the second half, Falcao put on a show for the fans who gave him a standing ovation after the game.
Falcao's time with Sao Paulo worked out to be a great marketing artifice for the club. However, he rarely played for the team again with his last appearance coming in the final game of the Campeonato Paulista after Sao Paulo had already secured the league trophy.
The futsaller’s time with the team came to a bitter end after a fall out with the club president. With his dreams shattered, he returned to Futsal which proved to be a great decision as we can see now.
The 'Pele of Futsal' has conquered the world of Futsal and we are lucky to have him in India.