If there had been Galvão Bueno in Slovenia, the sports narrative would have been full of “strong feelings” and in the last minutes there would be no shortage of cliches like “It’s a test for a heart attack, my friend!”. Not so much for the game, but for the player. That Saturday, May 14, NK Maribor beat hosts Aluminj 3-1, the last home game for Brazilian Marcos Tavares, 38, who is considered the greatest player in the history of Slovenian football. The NK Maribor national title will come the following Sunday, the 22nd.
On farewell at home, it was the most emotional thing to honor the star: Leticia, his wife, arranged with the club management for the arrival of the athlete’s father and brothers to watch the match live, on the field, without his knowledge. Moreover, Tavares fulfilled the dream of his life: in a symbolic pass of the stick, he played the last five minutes alongside his son, Marcos Tavares, 17 years old.
“We even scheduled together,” he comments, go to Report Tab. The son is also very impressed. “It was a very special day for me and my dad,” said the young man, who was called Tavares Jr. “It was an honor to play with Slovenia’s greatest player and top scorer: my father is my role model on and off the field and I am very happy to make my debut with the first team.”
“I am very proud of my son. It was our dream,” the father continues.
Marcos Tavares is proud of his desire not to hang up his shoes without having the opportunity to play with his son. No wonder he’s been postponing retirement for three years. Or “planning,” as he often says.
Once he started dating the woman, who is still 18, he told her he wanted to have a baby as soon as possible, “to have a chance to see me play professionally,” he said. “One day I could play with my son.” Entering the field professionally was with Tavares Jr. , then, is the silver chrome of a career full of rare characters.
Tavares set records in Slovenian football. One of six (the only non-Slavic) names in the list of domestic football legends according to the NZS, the Slovenian CBF, the athlete is the top scorer in the history of the national championship, with 159 goals. From second place (Stefan Skaber with 130 goals) to sixth place (Damir Bekic with 103), they all retired. The seventh, Rock Kronaviter, is still active and has so far scored 102 goals.
In the history of NK Maribor, Tavares absolutely reigned. He scored 211 goals for the club. The second top scorer of the team, which was founded 61 years ago, scored 117 goals. Throughout his career in Slovenian football, taking the title in his first season, in 2008, he lost the number of trophies he lifted: only first-division championships. She was nine.
Marcos Tavares was born in 1984 in Porto Alegre, and grew up in a poor community in the municipality of Alvorada (Republika Srpska). “I slept on the floor, we had no bed,” he recalls. Football has become an obsession.
As a teenager, he played in the youth teams of both Internacional and Gremio. He also played in the youth teams of the Brazilian national team. In 2001, he was part of the team that became the South American U-17 champion, at the tournament held in Peru. It was a career that looked promising.
However, he himself admits that he lacks emotional intelligence. “If I score the goals I scored here in Brazil, the repercussions will be much greater. But I made a lot of mistakes when I was young, early in my career. I left the favela feeling like the star of Grêmio. Every night. The party took me away from what I wanted to be in Brazil” , He said.
He only spent one year in the Grêmio main team, in 2003. Then he went to Kedah, in Malaysia. He spent a short stint at Atlético Paranaense, returned to Kedah, then played for a year at Porto Alegre and ended up with Apoel, from Cyprus. This was all up until 2007—yes, even then, what was modeled on was an itinerant career.
In the midst of it all, Tavares found Jesus. This is the reason for his personal success on and off the field.
“In Malaysia, there was only one Brazilian. He and his wife were evangelical,” Tavares explains. The natural friendship, due to cultural proximity, ended in the sense of biblical readings. “I found Jesus Christ and began to calm down, to see the ways, the principles, the values. It changed my life.”
He did not stop being religious. He even attended the Baptist Church on his next visit to Porto Alegre, and in Cyprus, he met a Cape Verdean friend for prayer and Bible readings.
In 2007, the Cape Verdean player was transferred to NK Maribor. “Then he said to me: Look, they need a striker here. Why don’t you come?” , he remembers. “Slovakia? Slovenia? Where was that?”
I wrote it in google. He was fascinated by beautiful nature, loved what he saw. He researched and also considered that the country, one of the safest in the world, would be a legal place to raise children – his wife was pregnant with the couple’s second child.
He says the first few months were tough. In adaptation, he endured months of fasting without hitting the net and remained on the bench for a few matches. But he had a guardian angel: the former player Zlatko Zahovi, the top scorer in the history of the Slovenian national team, who played in Portuguese football and communicated well in Portuguese, worked as a manager of Maribor. He began to guide Tavares and help him communicate.
“At first, I spoke only English,” he says. “It took me four years to learn Slovenian and I was able to do my first interview in Slovenian.” “However, in the first year I got the captain’s badge.”
I am the legend
“When things started happening, I saw that I was doing a job here,” he analyzes. Success was also opening doors. The local football federation helped him to complete all the procedures for obtaining Slovenian citizenship.
The idea was that he could defend the national team, but since he had already played for Brazil’s under-23 team, there was a need to ask for permission from FIFA – which refused the request.
Even without defending the national colors, it is undeniable that he became an idol. He became a poster boy for some brands, started getting licensed products, and won a mural in his honor at the club’s entrance.
In 2015, its name (and NK Maribor’s purple and yellow colors) became a sparkling wine label. During the holidays, he made his name and secured a summer camp appearance for kids who dream of one day being the same success.
Last year he released his autobiography in Slovenian. “Legenda” (in Portuguese, “The Legend”). He imagines “Who knows, maybe no publishing house in Brazil will publish it one day, right?”.
“Marcos Tavares has become one of the most loved players to ever play in the Slovenian league. Not only Maribor fans, but all Slovenes adore him. Not only for his goals, but because he is an exceptional human being,” commented football coach Grega Fonsina, NK Maribor supporter and NK team member Bled.
Jesus ji pot
The father of five, Tavares, lives in a comfortable house in Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, with a population of about 95,000. Retirement will not mean returning to Brazil. I took root. Tavares Jr. hopes to repeat his father’s football success and, if possible, one day, defend the Slovenian national team.
Marcos Tavares has already accepted Maribor’s invitation: as of Monday (23), he will take on the role of assistant club management – and one of his tasks is to discover new talent.
Away from the meadows, he also hopes to devote himself more to the altar. In recent years, he graduated in Theology from Florida Christian University in the United States in an online academic course. He says he’s had two more courses in the area, smaller. With Leticia, he founded the Evangelical Church, Jezus Je Pot – in Portuguese, Jesus is the way.
Tavares is one of the sponsors. He preached four times a month – one in Slovenian and three in Portuguese, with simultaneous translation for the audience. His church usually gathers 70 to 100 people for services; Most of them are Slovenes. “Now I will have more time for church. I will also be able to accept the invitations I receive to evangelize in other churches,” he says.
“All I got is God’s mercy,” he says. “I wanted to make history as a footballer and God wanted me to make history in Slovenia. Amen. I achieved my goals: for Slovenia my career was great and I became the ‘legend’.