Rivaldo stuns AEK by leaving club for Asia

Brazilian soccer star Rivaldo has stunned AEK just as the club is preparing for a vital UEFA Cup game by telling directors that he is leaving Greece to join a team in Asia. The striker held talks with club chairman Demis Nikolaidis yesterday and informed him that he has been made a lucrative offer by another team, which he intends to accept immediately. Rivaldo confirmed the news in a radio interview but refused to name the club, although reports indicated that it was FC Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan. The club, previously known as PFC Kurivchi, finished second in the Uzbek league last season and has tried to match its growing success on the field with big name signings. Earlier this summer, Bunyodkor claimed to have signed Barcelona’s Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o but what would have been one of the most surprising transfers of all time was never confirmed. «It was a difficult decision to make but I have received an offer that is very good for my career,» Rivaldo told Novosport FM. «I had a great time at AEK. I thank the president and the fans but the offer is very good for me and my family.» The news of Rivaldo’s departure comes just three days after Nikolaidis said that he would also be stepping down at the end of this season. The former AEK and Greece striker headed a consortium that took over the Athens club in 2004 but cited the lack of support from fans as one of the reasons he would not continue in his role. Rivaldo said his decision was not connected to Nikolaidis’s departure. The Brazilian, a former World Cup winner, said that it was unlikely he would play in AEK’s UEFA Cup game against Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus on Thursday, where the Yellows must overturn a 1-0 defeat from the first game. Rivaldo is also likely to miss the opening game of the domestic Super League season against Panathinaikos on Sunday.