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Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Romario: I was better than Messi

Associated Press

SAO PAULO -- Former star Romario says Brazil wouldn't get past the group stage of the World Cup if the competition were played today. What's more, he insists he's one of the three best players in soccer history.

Now a congressman, Romario used an expletive to describe what he thinks about Brazil's national team and said coach Mano Menezes needs more time to form his squad.

"If the World Cup was today, we would be eliminated in the first stage," Romario said in Tuesday's Rio de Janeiro daily O Dia. "I would pick the same players as Mano, but it's not working. One of the motives is lack of time. To prepare a national team you need time to practice."

Romario said it's a mistake to have Menezes coach Brazil during the Olympics, and he will run the risk of losing his job if Brazil fails to do well in London.

Romario said it would be better if the team were coached by Ney Franco, who is in charge of Brazil's youth squads. Brazil is under pressure to win the under-23 tournament because it's the only significant soccer competition it is yet to win.

Romario, who led Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title in the United States, said he would like to see former South Africa coach Joel Santana in charge if Menezes is fired.

"He is the best coach I've ever played for," the 46-year-old Romario said, referring to the Brazilian.

Romario said he was "by far" better than Argentina's Lionel Messi and said he can be compared to the best players of all time, along with Pele and Diego Maradona.

"Messi is a good player, but I'm in the top three: It's me, Pele and Maradona. I would include (Zinedine) Zidane in that list, too," he said.

Romario has been heavily criticizing Brazil's preparations for the 2014 World Cup and said delays in improving urban mobility is the biggest concern.

"The rich fan who will come to the World Cup will be fine. He will arrive on a private jet, use private cars and will stay at the best hotels," Romario said. "But the poorer football fans will be left out."