A Fluminense athlete between 2018 and 2019, goalkeeper Rodolfo opened his heart in a strong and courageous statement to the GE portal, talking about his career as a professional athlete and about chemical dependency. The player was caught anti-doping more than once, including during the period in which he played for Tricolor. Check out the text in full:
“I need to never forget what I went through. If I think that I never lived, that I never did the things I did, I’ll end up doing them again. I have to tell my story because this is part of my treatment. It will have to be in my head until the end of my life.
Think I lived and overcame it? It’s not quite like that. Chemical dependency is a disease. A disease that a person must be aware of and alert at all times to prevent it from happening again. Drugs entered my life when I was 15 years old. It was the first time I used drugs, and it was largely because of alcohol.
Alcohol is a legal substance that is present almost everywhere and was the gateway to cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs as well. I was in a nightclub, in my city, and they introduced me. It was the first time I used it.
Disassociating this from my life I know is not possible. I always talk openly about everything I’ve done and what I’ve experienced, even to help other people who may have the same problem.
Rodolfo is a great goalkeeper. A very good person at heart, a very happy guy, very friendly with a group. I made some wrong choices in my life, both professionally and off the field, but I really want to turn things around. I want to get back to the top, and I want to get back because I’m still young.
I was born in Santos, on the coast of São Paulo. My mother is from Paraíba, my father from Alagoas. It’s a huge mix, I have northeastern blood. I have a brother, his name is Robson, seven years older than me. And I have a brother on my father’s side too, younger.
I had to leave home when I was 12 years old. I didn’t have maternal and paternal figures from a very early age. I spoke to them regularly on the phone. Every vacation I had, I would spend with them, but you end up being a little loose. Things end up happening in a player’s life that, if we had more support from parents, close to us, we could be something else.
I played futsal there in Santos, at Gremetal, the same team that Neymar played for – we even played together. We went to Santos indoor football. But the group that played with me went to the Santos field, and I went to the São Paulo field, and we ended up falling out.
I left Santos when I was 12. I went to play for São Paulo’s youth team and, from there, I came to Paraná. I’ve lived here since I was 15 years old.
I studied, I finished high school, but it wasn’t through the clubs. When you get to the professional, even if you haven’t finished your studies, you’re kind of on your own. Clubs drop you.
I played four years at Paraná Clube. It was the club where I made my professional debut, aged 17. A rich club, with a very welcoming and strong fan base. I see Paraná in this situation, nowadays, and I am saddened, by everything that happened, by the passing of directors who took away the value of Paraná Clube. Sadness hits very hard.
Then, I went to Internacional, in Porto Alegre, and came to Athletico, where I stayed for seven years. Athletico had a very big importance in my life, professional and personal. They didn’t just treat the athlete, just the goalkeeper. They treated the person. It’s a club that doesn’t just train players. I’m grateful. I always will be.
[Nota da redação do GE: no dia 9 de junho de 2012, Rodolfo foi pego no exame antidoping do jogo do jogo do Athletico contra o CRB. Ele foi suspenso pelo uso de cocaína pelo Supremo Tribunal de Justiça Desportiva e reconheceu ser dependente químico].
To that Rodolfo, I would say: have more sense. My advice is to make the right choices, deprive yourself of a lot of things, deprive yourself of things that – it’s not that I don’t regret it – but I would deprive myself of. Of things I did back then and wouldn’t do anymore today. I have several memories, but upon my return from suspension, in 2014, at Athletico, the Campeonato Paranaense was very strong for me. I came back against Prudentópolis, our first game. I did very well, captain of the team, which was under-23.
That game against Prudentópolis was one of the most memorable games I’ve had in my life. For everything I’ve been through. I always remembered a phrase that Petraglia said to me: “I want to see you playing again with the Athletico t-shirt”. He was a person who helped me a lot, both when I was at Athletico and abroad.
In 2018, knowing that I was going to Fluminense It was one of the best feelings I had in my career. I was in the West, I had already left Athletico, and I found out that I was going on loan to Fluminense with an option to buy.
I was very nervous the day I debuted. It was against Cabofriense, Campeonato Carioca, March 18, 2018. But I ended up doing very well. If I had been a little calmer, with the goal I scored, I would have been able to read the play better, and we could have won. But it was very good. At the time the coach was Abel Braga, and he said that I did very well in the game. The goalkeeper coach also really liked it, Marquinhos. I liked it too, but if I was calmer it would be better.
I remember the first Fla-Flu I played… I think every player dreams of playing a game like that, grand, with Maracanã full. When I stepped on that stage, with that amount of fans, it marked me, it marked me for the rest of my life.
Before the end of 2018, they had already signaled that they were going to buy me from Oeste permanently. That made me even happier. I would have more time to show my work, to play, to prepare. The year 2018 until mid-2019, for me, was wonderful.
[Nota da redação do GE: no dia 23 de maio de 2019, Rodolfo foi pego no exame antidoping do jogo contra o Atlético Nacional, pela Sul-Americana. Ele abriu mão do exame de contraprova e ficou suspenso por um ano, sete meses e 20 dias].
I lost nights of sleep, I often trained upside down, because I didn’t sleep. I just wanted to know about the drugs, the alcohol, the nights. This affected me a lot when I was at Athletico, my performance dropped a lot. And in Fluminense It was also one of the reasons that made me go to the reserve bench. If I had managed to stay sober I could have done much better, I could still be in those clubs. The temptations. The temptations that you end up facing challenge you.
It all depends on the person. It could be that Athletico or Fluminense They want to help you, but if the person doesn’t want to, they will end up sinking. What happened to me will end up happening. What we have to do for a person who is on this turbulent path and who feels like they are losing their way in life is to ask for help. Look for your parents, look for your real friends and ask for help.
We end up being a little dazzled. You end up meeting other people who come close to you just because of who you are, because of the money, the status you have. We think everything is fine and end up doing things like the ones I already said.
When I came back from suspension there Fluminense, I was a little scared. What will happen from now on? What will my income, my return, be like? It was a very big fear I had. But I came back with a strong desire to put into practice what I missed back then.
Being a goalkeeper means not being afraid. Don’t be afraid of anything. Take a hit, leave the goal, play with your foot. You can’t be afraid at all, you have to have a lot of courage.
There will always be bad people. I’ve been through games that insulted me, said I was a drug addict and other nonsense. I don’t care, because when I enter the field I put my head in there and don’t hear anything from outside. I listen to my coach and my teammates.
I know my kids will see it. Go read articles about it. It serves as a warning. So I can warn them, so it doesn’t happen to them. A learning experience. I married Yasmim in 2015, but we have been together since 2013. She is my safe haven. It’s the person who will always be by my side, who will be supporting me, who was with me in my bad times and in my good times. She was a person who was very sad about everything that happened to me. She lost some trust in me because of everything I did. She and my mother were the people who were most saddened by the dopings, by the wrong choices.
We have two children. And I have, from another marriage, two more children. Rafaela, Ruan, Ramires and Ryan. One is 13, one is 11, one is eight, and Raphaella is five years old. I always joke with my wife by telling my children that they are my retirement. “Okay, if you want to be a player, this will be my retirement.”
My eldest son loves playing football the most. My youngest is starting. The one in the middle got it into his head that he wants to be a goalkeeper, and I joke with him: “He’s going to make money, play from the middle forward, don’t go in the goal”. But I’m very supportive, they see their father playing football and they really like it. If they want to pursue this career I will support them until the end.
My father always supported me a lot, my mother too. They always supported my choices as a footballer. I made a lot of money. But I know of other players who won much more. I managed to invest a little, I spent a lot, and I regret many things I did because I could be much better than I am today.
I’m 32 years old. At the end of last year I was playing in the West. But there were some problems, and I received a call from the directors of Trieste, who made me an offer. I ended up in Trieste because I hadn’t received many legal professional offers.
Trieste is an amateur club, but they have a structure that many professional clubs don’t have. I’ll come back here again. I’m already renewing my contract for the future. I have to thank you. They opened the doors for me.
Today’s Rodolfo dreams big. Very. Very much so. Today I remind you not to do it again. The pain I feel, just remembering, is a warning for me to walk away soon, for good. So I can try to get back on my professional path, follow my path, and not do it again“.