Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima “Il fenomeno”

Before Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar Jr, Ronaldinho etc., etc., etc. there was Ronaldo (in the opinion of the media, the critics, the professionals and of course the people), one of the best soccer players ever.

 

He was awarded with the FIFA World Player Award in 1996, 1997 and 2002; The European Golden Boot in 1997; and The Golden Ball in Europe in 1997 and 2002. He also won the Golden Ball at the World Cup in France ‘98 and the Golden Boot at the World Cup in Korea and Japan 2002. He was top scorer in the history of the World Cup for eight years, a record later surpassed by the German Miroslav Klose in the World Cup 2014. Ronaldo is also the second leading scorer of the Brazil squad after Pele.

 

Ronaldo was born on September 22, 1976, in Bento Ribeiro, one of the poorest neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro. He had a very hard childhood as his aunt Wanda recalls “Every day we could see him kicking a ball made of socks while going to school. I did not know what was a leather ball.”

Things became worse when Ronaldo’s father left them when he was only 13 years old. His mother worked fourteen hours a day in pizza restaurants and supermarkets to raise her three children. At 14 he was about to play for Flamengo, but had not enough money to pay for the four bus fares required to get from his house to the club. So he started playing in the Sao Cristovao, who two years later sold him to The Cruzeiro, and at age 16 his life would change forever.

 

In just two seasons he became one of the leading players in his country. In March 1993 he made his first division debut. He also played in the U-17 World Cup. After Cruzeiro, PSV took him to Holland, where he played from ‘94 to ’96 (the year in which he was chosen the FIFA’s World Player for the first time).

In 1996 Ronaldo signed a contract with FC Barcelona for eight years. The club paid PSV $20 million for the transfer. In 1997 he was consecrated again as the best footballer in the world, according to the appointment sponsored by FIFA, and that same year took the “Golden Ball” awarded by the magazine France Football.

In the summer of ’97 he signed for the Inter, and a year after big things were expected from Ronaldo and Brazil in the 1998 World Cup in France, but while he was named the Golden Ball winner as the Cup’s best player, the tournament ended on a sour note when Ronaldo suffered a convulsive fit before the final and was ineffective in a 3-0 loss to the host country. Bigger setbacks followed when Ronaldo ruptured a knee tendon in November 1999 and reinjured the knee five months later, knocking him out of action for almost two years.

 

After that many people thought Ronaldo was done, but his comeback for the World Cup in 2002 would prove them wrong: He scored eight goals, including two in the final against Germany to obtain the status of world champions.

Ronaldo was soon transferred to The Real Madrid. Upon joining the team, Ronaldo’s goal scoring increased even more due to the lack of the incredible Italian defense to oppose him. He managed to score 127 goals in 83 league games over the course of the time that he was with Real. But this glory only lasted for a few seasons: an overweight Ronaldo began to lose popularity with his fans and his manager.

In 2007 he went back to Milan, but this time to play for AC Milano, the archrivals of his previous Milan team. He began to pick his pace back up again and soon lost most of the excess weight that he had gained. In that year he scored in the Milan Derby against Internationale, making him one of the few players to have played for both of the rivaling Milan teams in the Derby and the only player to score on both occasions. Things started to look good, but once again in February of 2008 in a game against Livorno, he blew again one of his knees. His contract with Milan expired during this time and was not renewed.

 

Finally on December 9, 2008 he was transferred to Corinthians of Brazil, this would be his last team as a professional player. Three years later he announced his farewell from the fields. ” In a match I know how to finish a move, but now I can’t complete it as I want.” He declared to media once, closing one of the brightest careers in futbol history.

 

Here are some highlights about his legacy:

 

1995 Top Scorer on the Dutch League (PSV Eindhoven)

1996 Champion Dutch Cup (PSV Eindhoven)

1997 Pichichi (FC Barcelona)

1997 Champion of the Recopa (FC Barcelona)

1997 Champion Copa America (Brazil)

1997 Champion Cup (FC Barcelona)

1998 UEFA Champion (Inter Milan)

1999 Champion Copa America (Brazil)

2000 Finalist Italian Cup (Inter Milan)

2002 Best player World Cup (Brazil)

2002 Intercontinental Cup Winner (Real Madrid)

2002 World Champion (Brazil)

2003 Champion League (Real Madrid)

2004 Top scorer (Real Madrid)

2007 Champion League (Real Madrid)

2009 Paulistao (Corinthians)

 

Nowadays Ronaldo is a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN. He has visited various areas of the world such as Ramallah, to participate in activities benefiting the disadvantaged. He and Zinedine Zidane have helped kick off 11 international Matches Against Poverty since 2003 that raised over 4 million US dollars to help boot out poverty worldwide.

But have we seen all about Ronaldo? Not at all, last January he has confirmed that he is set to come out of retirement and take to the field for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. “It’s going to happen,” Ronaldo told Lance! magazine, “I have already said so. But it’s going to be a bit later, in the play-offs.”

This will be amazing! But meanwhile, until that happens, let’s remember those 15 historic Ronaldo goals.

 

Sources:

Maxisport / Shutterstock.com

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