Roberto Carlos: Brazil World Cup legend makes losing appearance for Shropshire pub team


Roberto Carlos won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 – but it was a different story as he tasted defeat on his debut for a Shropshire pub team.

It is hard to believe that the 48-year-old had ever witnessed a scene like the Hanwood village recreation ground, with the noise of primary school children playing just a few yards away wafting across the pitch.

Yet that is where he found himself, having been won by Bull In The Barne FC after they bought a £5 ticket for a ‘dream transfer raffle’ on eBay, which was part of their Football Beyond Borders charity campaign.

The prize was a one-off appearance by the man whose fantastic free-kick for Brazil against France in 1997 is recognised as one of the game’s most iconic goals.

Bull In The Barne play in the Shrewsbury & District Sunday League, but the Brazilian’s appearance was finally arranged for a Friday friendly against Harlescott Rangers, with an 11:00 GMT kick-off – and despite him tucking away a penalty, they lost 4-3.

Conditions were not ideal for a thoroughbred footballer – even one whose best days are now on Youtube – as the teams tried to combat an increasingly soggy pitch.

“A few of the lads have probably had to pack some armbands because it’s going to get really wet down that far side in the second half,” winger George Robinson told BBC Radio Shropshire before kick-off.

“It will be good to see what he makes of it and how he performs on this type of surface.”

Carlos collected three Champions League and four La Liga titles with Real Madrid during his career.

Today, the mind may be willing but the body – well, that’s a different story for a player who first appeared in professional football in the early 1990s and officially retired seven years ago following a spell as player-coach of Delhi Dynamos in India.

And after a short run-out in midfield in the opening half, Carlos left the action to go for a massage.

He was not on the pitch as a couple of opportunities for one of his trademark free-kicks came and went.

Carlos eventually returned to the action when the penalty was awarded and did not waste his chance from the spot, although he relied on placement rather than power as he tucked it away low to the Harlescott goalkeeper’s left.

“I also come from a small-town background, so I like the vibe in the area,” Carlos said afterwards.

“It’s just amazing that football gives you these opportunities to be able to meet new people, new cultures, different places. I certainly haven’t been somewhere like this before.

“Any time there is a charity element involved in a project it’s very important for me, and what FBB (Football Beyond Borders) do is fantastic.”

Bull in the Barne FC, with Roberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos (front row, second from left) joins the team for a pre-match photo
Roberto Carlos
Hmm, not sure how this pitch compares to the Bernabeu

So what did his team-mates make of sharing the pitch with the South American superstar?

“It was very bizarre. Most of us have played in front of about 20 people before, at most,” man of the match Calum Bebb told BBC Radio Shropshire after receiving a trophy from Carlos.

“The 20 years of playing football are justified now. It’s the peak of my career, I can retire happy.

“I cannot believe (we lost), but it’s completely authentic because week in, week out, we miss sitter after sitter after sitter.”

Player-manager Ed Speller, who bought the winning ticket, said: “It’s been amazing, the whole experience from start to finish.

“Any touch he had, every pass was directly to someone and on this pitch, that’s not easy. He’s just a class player.”

Full-back Liam Turrell added: “It’s almost like this mythical creature – you’ve seen him on TV, you’ve seen him in sticker books when you were a kid.

“So to see him here in the flesh is a really surreal experience that I’m sure will sink in later.”

Roberto Carlos
The Brazilian started the match on the bench
Bull In The Barne FC
William Wellis and Paddy Shanahan were delighted to see Roberto Carlos in action
Half-time snacks
Whatever the level of football, there are always pies and pasties
Roberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos accepts a hug after scoring from the penalty spot

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