To understand, why Jardel’s career went on a downward spiral, we must first go back and look at what might have caused this. His biggest desire as a player was to be recognised for his talents and play for his national team on a regular basis but his style of play lacked flair. He was a typical target man whose skill was to pin the defenders and use his strength and aerial ability to score goals something more accustomed to Italian strikers or even the old English strikers. His game was not just limited to that though, he could score some extraordinary long range shots and well executed volleys but his general play lacked the skill and trickery which has long been associated with Brazilian strikers. This saw him omitted from a lot of international tournaments throughout his career. First of which, was in July 1996 when he wasn’t called up for the Olympic tournament in which Brazil won the Bronze medal. A bitter pill to swallow for a striker whose goal record could not be matched by any of the young players who went to that tournament in his place.
International friendlies – Russia & Holland, (1996, 0 goals in 2 games)
And, on the 28th of August in 1996, he finally made his international debut for Brazil in a friendly away in Russia. At twenty two years old with the game tied at 2-2, Jardel came on in the last two minutes of the game to replace Brazilian legend Ronaldo – who was still only nineteen then. Although, Mario Jardel had scored more goals at this stage in their career and was older, Ronaldo was seen as the first choice for Brazil. Jardel was in his shadow and this would continue throughout his career. Three days later, the Brazil team flew to Holland and played against Netherlands and again Jardel would replace Ronaldo in the 86th minute to earn his second cap for Brazil. In front of twenty seven thousands Dutch fans who were still drooling at yet another glimpse of Ronaldo who had just signed for Dutch club PSV months earlier. Jardel’s cameo was short and forgettable, the game finished with yet another 2-2 draw for Brazil. So in total, he managed to play less than fifteen minutes for Brazil and didn’t get a chance to showcase his goalscoring instincts.
International friendlies – Korea Republic & Spain, (1999, 0 goals, 2 games)
His next international match for Brazil came in March, 1999; he would only last for an hour, as he was substituted on the 65th minute in a humiliating 1-0 loss against Korea Republic. Strangle enough, despite his move to European side, FC Porto in 1996 and his great goals to game ratio in that time. It would take almost three years to see Jardel play for the Brazil national team again. To put this in perspective, it took two Portuguese golden balls (given to the best player in the Portuguese league) and a European golden shoe for Jardel among other accolades just to get his third cap for Brazil. He missed round about thirty international games including Brazil’s Copa America win in 1997, the FIFA Confederations Cup and an impressive World Cup in 1998 which they lost in the final against France. Arguably, this was one of Brazil most talented ever side but his omission for near three years is sadly unjust and hard to understand. His fourth cap would come against Spain and in the 65th minute he came on as a sub to replace Sonny Anderson in a match that ended 0-0.
Kings Cup & World Cup qualifier – Thailand & Colombia (2000, 2 goals in 2 games)
21st November 1999, was a sad day for football fans everywhere, when Brazil superstar striker Ronaldo severely injured his knee which would see his career derailed for nearly three years. However, this was a chance for Mario Jardel to push his name into the Brazil team and finally get a chance as an international regular. Brazil were invited to take part in Thailand’s Kings Cup against other nations and it was round robin tournament over seven days and this were Jardel would get his first goals and wins in a Brazil shirt. The first of which match was a 7-0 win over Thailand on the 23rd of February, 2000 in which he scored the seventh goal and the second was another 7-0 win when he scored the sixth goal in consecutive days against the same opponents. Finally, Jardel had made some sort of impact on the national stage. This was quickly followed by World Cup qualifier against Colombia the next month which finished 0-0 and was Jardel second ever start for Brazil but he would only play the first half only.
Fifa World Cup Qualifier & Copa America (2001, 0 goals in 3 games)
It would take yet another year and a change in manager for Jardel’s next cap. His former Gremio boss, Luiz Felipe Scolari would take over with Brazil struggling to qualify for the world cup and only five games remaining. The first game was against Uruguay and with that, he gave his former striker Jardel a chance to showcase his old heroics for his Gremio side on the national stage against Uruguay. He started the game against Uruguay but was eventually substituted after yet another unimpressive display. Scolari’s belief in Jardel ability was still there and he took him as part of the 2001 Copa America squad in which he started Group B clash against Mexico and yet again only lasted for the first half before being subbed. Brazil would advance from their group and reach the quarter finals in which they faced a Honduras side that had only been told about their inclusion days before the tournament started and barely had players to field in the tournament. Surprisingly, Honduras would knock out Brazil and Jardel was involved in this game as he came on in the 65th minute. This defeat caused a national outrage and Jardel was seen unfairly as the scapegoat for the loss because his style was so far away from what Brazilian striker had traditionally been known for. Jardel now had the unwanted record of only being part of two match winning Brazil teams out of ten with his only goals and wins coming against minnows Thailand. And with that, was the end for Mario Jardel’s international career in which he had failed to even complete a full match.
At 28 years old, his international career for Brazil had not taken off and despite him winning another European Golden Shoe he would not play for the national team again. This destroyed Mario Jardel because he never got enough of a chance to get a rhythm and an understanding with international team-mates which affected his impact on the national team. So what does a person do in the face of what he perceives as unjust treatment? Well, he rebels of course…