At the start of 2014, however, Brazilian football has begun to look like something of an elephants’ graveyard. For just weeks after Seedorf hung up his boots, supporters were forced into mourning again as another beloved idol slipped into the dark night of retirement on Monday.
The departed this time was Juninho Pernambucano – he of glory days at Olympique Lyonnais, intermittent magic for Brazil and utter mastery of the art of the free-kick. "The time has come," the 39-year-old told reporters. "You can't put it off forever. I'm looking forward to a good break."
While Lyon fanatics will remember him fondly (this reporter lived in the city for a year during his pomp and he was revered like the unofficial king of the world), it is at Vasco da Gama that his absence will be most keenly felt. Supporters of the Rio de Janeiro club clasped Juninho to their collective breast no fewer than three times, going through thick and thin with the man they call O Reizinho (The Little King).
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