It was a special moment. I got invited by my old team, Ajax to play in a charity match of legends against the Brazilian Legends.
When they asked me I thought it was going to be a game of 90 minutes, with plenty of running, but I soon found out it was just 5v5 on a small pitch, so I was quickly sold on the idea. I was excited because it’s still intense and competitive, but also a lot of fun because you aren’t ever too far away from the goal and the game is all based on technique.
One of my best friends Dimitry came along for the ride. He’s a huge football fan that knows more about football than some that call themselves a real lover of the beautiful game.
As we arrived in Orlando we went over to the training ground to reconnect with old teammates and colleagues, including the great players Edwin v/d Sar, Richard
The next day it was game day for us. In the morning I went to another training session of the first team and watched the session from close up again. It was great to see how well the young talents are doing, and just the fact guys like Ziyech, Blind, De Jong and Huntelaar came over to talk to me was a small touch of class that made me feel really welcome.
As we got close to the pitch we saw the team we were facing, and they had Falcao who is arguably one of the greatest players to play 5v5. The skills he has are out of this world. The next one was Mr stepover, Denilson who did things in his career that made you think as a young player, how could you stop someone that is that quick and tricky.
Rai was another legend that had also put his stamp on the game, who I watched doing great things in France and of course for Brazil. As I finished looking at these guys we are all cracking saying ‘boys we have to really be on our best’ and ‘Mario, you defend’. You know how that went, I never came off while all the others were rotating, and Van De Sar was on an autocue of saying “come back” or “stay back” all game.
As the game was finished I saw something that was making me feel like a kid again, like I had just watched one of my childhood stars. It was the real legend of legends called Zico. If you don’t know who Zico is. Google him, because this man was a genius and what he did for football was a gift for all lovers of the game.
When I was a kid I would play on the streets and call my self by names of the stars of that time. Zico was one of the ones, along with Maradona, that I used regularly. I ran over to him and asked him for a picture. He hugged me and said of course.
Let me tell you guys, this trip was really fun and all down to the Ajax crew for inviting me to relive my childhood memories and allow my brother Dimitry to be part of it, as he said it was “life-changing” for him. #mmlove