Ronaldo had suffered heartache in the World Cup Final in 1998.
By the time the World Cup of 2002, Ronaldo had finally put his injury problems behind him.
He was unstoppable during the tournament, no doubt driven by the pain and injustice he felt at what had happened four years earlier.
With Rivaldo and Ronaldinho either side of him, Ronaldo bulldozed his team to World Cup glory scoring eight goals along the way. Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the final with Ronaldo fittingly scoring both goals. He had won the biggest prize in football and played a leading role in his team’s quest for victory. Ronaldo was named FIFA World Player of the Year for the third time at the end of 2002.
Starring with “The Galacticos”
After his success in the World Cup, Ronaldo was signed by Real Madrid for £39m. Madrid built a superteam over the next couple of seasons with world stars Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Roberto Carlos, David Beckham and Iker Casillas all lining up along with Ronaldo.
The team was given the nickname the Galacticos due to their worldwide stardom and appeal. They played brilliant attractive football that entertained football fans all over the world.
Madrid won the Spanish title, La Liga, in 2003 and 2007 but failed to win the Champions League during Ronaldo’s time at the Bernabeu.
During the end of his time at Madrid, Ronaldo fell out of favour with manager Fabio Capello due to a lack of fitness and the arrival of Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
AC Milan and two rare doubles
Ronaldo signed for AC Milan in 2007 for £6.5m although he had to pay off the remainder of his contract to Madrid as they were unwilling to release him. His time at Milan was blighted by injury and weight issues but Ronaldo still managed nine goals in his 20 games for the club. He did however, become one of the few players that have played for both AC and Inter Milan and Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Back home to Brazil
In 2009 Ronaldo returned to Brazil to end his playing days with Corinthians. He helped the club win the Campeonato Paulista and the Copa do Brasil in his first season and finally ended his playing career in 2011.
Ronaldo was given a one-off match appearance for the Brazil national team in June 2011 as a final farewell to the country’s fans. Having won the World Cup twice and the Copa America twice the authorities decided Ronaldo merited a final game to give him an international send off.
He appeared for 15 minutes in the friendly against Romania in what was a unique moment in football and a very emotional game for Ronaldo and his adoring fans.