Football: Popular Brazilian footballer Reinaldo Lima is in the country to provide a weeklong training to the under-17 and under-15 national teams in Thimphu.

Regarded as one of the greatest strikers in Brazilian football, Reinaldo Lima holds numerous records in football. He holds the record of highest goal average per game in the Brazilian league, with 1.55 goals per match in the 1977 Brazilian championship.

His record of 28 goals in 18 games in the Brazilian league still remains unconquered, even by the likes of Pele. The striker played most of his career for Atletico Mineiro in Brazil.

He scored a staggering 255 goals with the team and remains the top scorer at the famous Mineirao stadium where Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 during the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup.

Reinaldo played 30 matches and scored 14 goals for the Brazilian national team from July 1975 to May 1985, including the 1978 FIFA World Cup, where he scored a goal against Sweden.

He also scored the qualifying goal for Brazil’s participation in the 1982 World Cup in Spain but could not make it into the squad due to a knee injury.

Today Reinaldo is 59 years old, but his touch with the ball is as nimble and precise as during his prime footballing days. “These young Bhutanese players have good skills and are very disciplined,” he said. “Their technique is also good but it still needs improvement if they want to become professionals.”

Starting to play from a very young age with constant practise, Reinaldo said is the key if players want to pursue football as a career. International exposure matches he said will also help improve the game of the players.

“In Brazil football is a culture. The first gift a child gets in his life is a football,” said Reinaldo. “Bhutan has just started to follow this worldwide culture. With proper investment in the sport and guidance to the players, Bhutan can progress in the sport.”

He said that the country lacks proper football grounds, which is an essential component in promoting the game. “Good administration with proper facilities are important but more than anything, grounds should be made available in every neighborhood,” adding that the football federation and government have an important role to play in promoting the sport. “Football is a good business to invest in.”

Reinaldo added that Bhutanese are physically built for a game like football but they need to be trained from a very young age in both technical and tactical aspects. “Football is a constant learning process. You need to practise everyday with full dedication if you want to succeed,” he said. “You need to dream big at the same time to achieve big in life.”

The former striker left the country today.

Younten Tshedup