The latest Brazilian legend rounded off his career on Tuesday with a performance that showed next to nothing of the skills that made him the top scorer in World Cup history.
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, known around the world simply as Ronaldo, made a 15 minute cameo appearance in Brazil’s 1-0 friendly win over Romania. Seemingly almost an international testimonial, Ronaldo played at walking pace – with no signs of the lighting pace and quick feet he was blessed with.
Obviously over weight, Ronaldo lasted no longer than fifteen minutes, but still had a handful of chances to score – scooping one hideously over the bar, and having Romanian keeper Tatarusanu save a tame effort. It was obvious, however, how much of a predator in the box Ronaldo used to be, doing well to find himself unmarked in the box, and beating the offside trap – his goal scoring instinct still sharp but let down by his failing body.
There was clearly a celebratory feel in the stadium, with each fluffed chance being greated by laughter and that unmistakable Ronaldo smile – the adulation from the fans was epitomised by a huge banner unfurled over the stands, Ronaldo clearly still the hero in Brazil. The question is, does Brazil currently have a striker worthy of filling Ronaldo’s golden boots?
The Brazilian scored nearly 250 goals in his eighteen year club career, as well as 62 goals for his country. Alongside holding the record for the most World Cup goals, Ronaldo won dozens of individual awards,including the prestigious Ballon D’or on two occasions.
It is fitting that a player of Ronaldo’s magnitude has played for so many of the biggest clubs in the world. Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid helped propel Ronaldo to super stardom, he became one of the brightest lights in Real Madrid’s galaticos, playing alongside such footballing luminaries as Raul, Figo and Zidane.
However, by the time he joined AC Milan, Ronaldo’s star was beginning to wane. Dogged by various health issues throughout his career, Ronaldo had his promising start at Milan torn away by a serious knee injury, ending his term at the club. Despite recovering enough to sign for Brazilian team Corinthians, Ronaldo never really shook off the effects of the many injuries he had sustained throughout his career.
Ronaldo went on to score 18 goals in 31 appearences for Corinthians, before retiring in 2011 after the team’s elimination from the Copa Libertadores.
For Brazil to have a special farewell match for Ronaldo proves just how special a player he has been, especially when you consider the calibre of players he has played alongside.
Ronaldo is truely one of the all time greats, to be talked of in the same breath as the likes of Pele and Maradonna – he is one of the best players never to win a Champions League, the top scorer ever in the World Cup and the scorer of some simply amazing goals. Today we have Messi, we have Cristiano Ronaldo, we have Rooney, but there is no one in the world who can score goals like Ronaldo – he will be sorely missed, and loved by football fans forever more.