It was El Clasico at the weekend, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo lit up the footballing world with 2 goals each as they continued their head to head battle for the accolade of best player in the world. So it seems only fair that this week’s profile takes a look at the career of a man who played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid and was once considered the most feared striker on the planet. The original Ronaldo.
Name: Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima
Date of Birth: 18th September 1976
International Caps/Goals: 98/62
If you google the name “Ronaldo” the search results are predominantly based around the preening Portuguese winger who is currently averaging a hat trick every 9 games for Los Blancos. That is incredibly impressive but it’s a real shame that there will be people who when they hear the name Ronaldo they don’t think of the Brazilian number 9 who used to take over games as effectively as his namesake.
Born in Rio de Janerio a young Ronaldo was turned down by his boyhood club Flamengo but still found a way into football when Brazilian World Cup legend Jairzinho recommended him to his former side Cruzeiro. It is fair to say that taking a gamble on the 17 year old worked out ok for Cruzeiro; as Ronaldo scored 44 times in 47 games and earned a call up to the Brazilian national squad for the 1994 world cup. He didn’t play in America but his time at World Cup’s would come. Following the World Cup Ronaldo joined PSV, on the recommendation of fellow Brazilian goal machine Romario, who had only recently left the Eindhoven club. The teenage prodigy hit the ground running in Holland, scoring 30 goals in his first season and although his second season was the first of many that would be marred by knee trouble he managed to score a dozen goals in the 13 league games he played in. His 66 goals in 70 games for Eindhoven attracted the interest of a Bobby Robson managed Barcelona, who paid £17 million to bring him to the Nou Camp. Again, Ronaldo got off to a quick start scoring 47 goals in his first season including this one against Compostela:
Bobby Robson simply can’t believe that Ronaldo has done that, he’s fouled at least twice in the lead up to the goal. The goal was typical of Ronaldo at that time he ran at such a pace and with such power that he was almost impossible to stop at times. Aged just 20 Ronaldo won the FIFA World Player of the Year, becoming the youngest ever winner of the award, he would go on to win the award twice more in his career.
Despite being the best player on the planet his time at Barcelona ended in 1997 with contract disputes and he was sold to Inter Milan after just one season with the Catalan club. He settled quickly and helped Inter to a UEFA Cup victory in his first season. The next part of Ronaldo’s career took place in France at the 1998 World Cup. Scoring 4 goals in Brazil’s run to the final he had well and truly announced himself on the international game and was all set to help his country win their 5th World Cup as they took on the host nation, France. The night before the final he suffered an epileptic seizure and was initially left out of the starting XI before being included after he asked coach Mario Zagallo to play. Unfortunately for Ronaldo, and Brazil, the striker was very much a peripheral figure in the final as Zinedine Zidane gave France a 2 goal halftime lead and Emmanuel Petit (and his fantastic ponytail) completed the scoring as the French won their first World Cup.
Ronaldo returned to Inter Milan and continued his success at club level ending the season as club captain. However, in the 1999/2000 season the knee injuries that had plagued his 2nd season at PSV returned. Following an injury in November 1999 he had surgery to repair a tendon injury only to reinjure the knee less than 10 minutes into his comeback game. The knee trouble meant that Inter Milan were without their talismanic striker for the entire 2000/2001 season and large portions of the seasons either side. However, the big Brazilian did manage to return to full fitness and regain a place in the national set up just in time for a shot at redemption in Japan/South Korea for the 2002 World Cup.
After the disappointment of the 1998 World Cup Brazil were determined to win their 5th title and set about it in ominous style scoring 11 times as they walked through Group C with consummate ease. Ronaldo and Rivaldo scored in every game in the group stages and then both scored in a 2-0 win over Belgium in the Round of 16. Ronaldo failed to score against England in the quarter finals but popped up against Turkey in the semi-finals with a new haircut and the only goal of the game:
The game against England was actually the only game Ronaldo didn’t score in as the ghost of France 98 was emphatically lain to rest with 2 goals in the final taking Ronaldo’s goal tally for the tournament to 8 and meant he’d scored 12 World Cup goals in his career, just 2 behind the all-time record; and he was only 26.
Later in 2002 Ronaldo again won the FIFA World Player of the Year award, and joined Real Madrid for a world record fee of 46 million euros after having notched 59 goals in 99 games for Inter Milan. Joining the Galacticos helped Ronaldo’s star rise even more. Playing in a team that included Zidane, Beckham and Figo it is no surprise that Ronaldo was scoring goals on a regular basis, perhaps a highlight being a hat-trick against Manchester United in the 2002/2003 season
Unfortunately for Ronaldo the end of his time at Real Madrid was marred by injuries and he fell out of favour with Coach Fabio Capello. However, his time at Madrid did see him become the all-time top scorer at World Cups as he bagged 3 goals at the 2006 World Cup in Germany taking his career total to 15.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfjD9Kz8DDY&feature=related – all of Ronaldo’s World Cup goals
Following his time at Madrid Ronaldo joined AC Milan, becoming one of only 2 players to score for both sides in a Milan derby (Zlatan Ibrahimovic being the other) although weight issues and injuries again dogged his career. He played only 20 times for AC Milan before he was released. Ronaldo finished his career playing at Corinthians, again showing his natural talent averaging a goal every 2 games as he scored 35 times in 69 appearances.
Ronaldo, a fantastic talent, was voted into a best starting 11 of all time in 2007 and that sort of ability shouldn’t go unnoticed. Cristiano Ronaldo may be very good at what he does, but in all honesty there is only one Ronaldo. He’s Brazilian, and brilliant.