Every four years (five, this time), the list of Olympic champions is replenished with the inclusion of a few other names who have emerged in the main multi-sport competition on the planet.
Those champions, medalists or simply athletes who shine in the action even without a podium place come from the most diverse styles…even football.
NS Rafael Reis’ blog Below is the current standings of seven players who featured in previous editions of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. What are they doing for a living these days?
While winning the gold medal was still an obsession for the men’s team, Leandro Damiao was largely responsible that Brazil nearly climbed to the top of the podium at the games held in the UK. Despite having his strong teammates, like Neymar and Hulk, it was the Internacional striker who ended up as the tournament’s top scorer. Damiao scored six goals in London, two of them in the semi-finals against South Korea. After the silver medal, the striker remained at a high level for a longer time and served in the first national team until 2013. Then football stopped producing, and he had to take refuge in Asia. He is currently in his third season with Kawasaki Frontale of Japan, a club that has already won five titles for him, and is the second top scorer in this edition of the J-League.
Five years ago, the German national team lost the Olympic final to Brazil. But Petersen left Rio smiling and his name engraved in competition history thanks to the five goals he scored in one match (10-0 win over Fiji, still in the first stage). But a good Olympic campaign did not give the player frequent space in the selections of the main German team. The striker, who continues to defend Freiburg, had only two chances along with the seniors in Germany. Last season, he scored just eight goals and finished the Bundesliga mid table.
The protagonist of the African team’s first title in the Olympic tournament, the captain of Nigeria has long lived the nightmares of Brazil, his victim in the semi-finals in Atlanta. After the games, when he had everything to prove himself as a top player in the world, Kanu discovered a heart problem and had to go several months without playing football. The Nigerian resumed his career, defending Arsenal and playing in three World Cups (1998, 2002 and 2010), but he did not become the star he seemed to be. He hung his shoes in 2012, in Portsmouth, England. Today, he owns an online channel that broadcasts sports programs and also serves as an ambassador for UNICEF.
The man in the London Olympics final, the Mexican striker scored twice against Brazil and delayed for four years to snatch the gold medal for the Canary team. The Olympic decision was a great moment in Peralta’s career in the Mexico shirt, although he also played in two World Cups (2014 and 2018) and won the Gold Cup (2015). At 37, the veteran is still active with Chivas Guadalajara, but hasn’t been able to swing the net since February last year and never had the chance to be selected as a starter.
One of the most talented strikers in Italian football this century, Rossi had his big moment at the Chinese Olympics, when he was the tournament’s top scorer and led Azura to the quarter-finals. The problem is that this was one of the rare phases where the player was in great physical shape. For most of his career, the Italian has lived with muscle and knee injuries that undermined his ability to excel on the field. It was Rossi’s last attempt to shine again on the MLS. Last year he defended Real Salt Lake City. But physical problems only allowed him to play 168 minutes of football in a whole season.
Even the Cameroon team that won the Sydney Games had Samuel Eto’o. But at that time, the great name of the team was Patrick Mboma, a striker who played in Italy with Cagliari. With the football show in the Olympic tournament, where he scored four times and was the second top scorer in the competition, the player was able to take the title of African best in 2000 and moved to Parma. He continued to play Mboma until 2005. After that, he engaged in a career as a sports director. Earlier this month, he was appointed as the new Assistant Secretary of the CAF (Confederation of African Football).
Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique are the most remembered names for the Spanish team that won the gold medal in 1992, the last Olympic title for a European team in men’s soccer. But the one who really shone in the victorious campaign in Catalonia was Kiko. The then-Cadiz striker scored five goals, two of them in the 3-2 win over Poland, which saw him finish first on the podium. After his success in the Olympic team, the player moved to Atlético Madrid, where he spent most of his career (eight seasons). As a colchonero, Kiko played in the 1998 World Cup and scored more than 50 goals. He retired in 2002 and now works as a sports commentator for Spanish television.
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