Brazil’s football legend Zico blasted organizers of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Sunday after carrying the torch for the Tokyo Games.
The Brazilian revealed that he was ignored in 2016 when the torch relay took place in his home city. He praised Japan for giving him the honour this time.
Zico is a club director at Kashima Antlers and a former Japan coach. He carried the torch for about 200 meters in Kashima on Saturday.
“After my country and my city denied me this opportunity of carrying the Olympic torch, today I realized my dream of taking part in the Olympic Games,” the 68-year-old Zico wrote on Instagram. “I thank the Kashima Antlers, the city of Kashima and Japan for giving me this opportunity.”
Zico played for the Japanese team between 1991 and 1994, and has called it “an unforgettable day in my life.”
Kashima will be one of the host cities for the semifinals of the men’s football Olympic tournament.
Zico is a former attacking midfielder, and is regarded as a hero by fans of Rio-based Flamengo, Brazil’s most popular club, and was also part of the much-admired and adored Brazil team at the 1982 World Cup which was eliminated by Italy.
That however was not enough for Rio Olympics organizers to invite him to carry the torch.
Zico has previously recalled the time he failed to make the Brazil squad for the 1972 Munich Olympics.
“I almost stopped playing football after I was left out,” he said.