Ronaldo was considered by many fans and commentators as the greatest player of his generation. His combination of skill, pace and raw power enabled him to terrorise defences and score goals for fun.
He appeared in the World Cup Final in 1998 and 2002 and was an unused sub in 1994. He picked up two winners medals and scored 62 goals in 98 games for Brazil.
The Boy from Brazil
Ronaldo started his career playing for Cruzeiro in Brazil where he scored 12 goals in 14 games after breaking into the first team. He was there for just one season before being signed by PSV Eindhoven who could see his potential.
Ronaldo was so impressive for PSV that he got the attention of all Europe’s big clubs. He scored 35 goals in just 36 games in his debut season in Dutch football.
His second season was ruined by injury although he still managed 19 goals in the 21 games he did play. PSV won the Dutch Cup in 1996 but at the end of the season Ronaldo moved on to Barcelona for a fee of £10m
World Player of the Year
At Barcelona, Ronaldo was alongside truly world class players. The Brazilian lined up with Fernando Couto, Josep Guardiola, Luis Figo and Hristo Stoichkov every week and was still the best player on the pitch.
He scored a staggering 47 goals in 49 games in the 1996/97 season. Barcelona won the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. At the age of 20, Ronaldo was named FIFA World Player of the Year for 1996.
It seems strange but there were difficulties in the renegotiation of Ronaldo’s contract with Barcelona that couldn’t be resolved. So after just one year at the Nou Camp Ronaldo was on the move again, this time to Italian giants Inter Milan in a deal worth £19million.
Ronaldo settled well in Milan and helped Inter win the UEFA Cup in his first season. He was named World Player of the Year again in 1997.
World Cup woe
The 1998 World Cup was held in France and Ronaldo scored four goals in the tournament to help Brazil reach the final. Confusion and controversy surrounded the build-up to the final as it was reported Ronaldo had suffered a convulsive fit the night before the game.
It was understood that he was unable to play but shortly before kick-off that decision was reversed and Ronaldo was named in Brazil’s starting line-up. Anyone watching the final could see he wasn’t fit to play and Brazil were beaten 3-0 by an impressive France side.
It was a terrible way for the tournament to end and it was impossible not to feel sorry for Ronaldo.
Back in Milan, Ronaldo suffered more when he ruptured a tendon in his knee playing against Lecce in 1999. It was a horrific injury that he struggled to get over and he played just 24 games for Inter from the start of the 1999/00 to the end of the 2001/02 season.
Ronaldo back with a vengeance in 2002 – Read more