Brazilian striker Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima better known simply as Ronaldo is retiring from global football or soccer today. He is widely regarded as one of the top players of all time and in my view he is one of the 4-5 best players ever. The three time FIFA World Player of the Year winner, 2 time World Cup winner and the World Cup’s all time leading goal scorer with 15 was the main inspiration for me getting into soccer in the first place. When I lived in Europe in 1998, right after the World Cup in France, he was the best player on the planet and he was really fun to watch. Unfortunately, injuries and weight issues stopped him from being even more highly considered as the greatest player ever but make no mistake, Ronaldo was great and soccer will miss his bravado, skill and charisma.
Ronaldo was 17 years old when he came to America for World Cup 1994. Although Brazil won with the remarkable Romario, Bebeto and other greats, young Ronaldo didn’t see game action but was hailed as the next great Brazilian footballer. Right after World Cup 1994 he transferred from Cruziero to PSV Eindhoven at the advice of Romario who had previously played at the Dutch club. Ronaldo dominated the Eredivisie and soon became the target of the highest ever transfer fee from Barcelona in 1996. He again was excellent at Barcelona and quickly was sold to Internazionale and become a global star during his 5 year stay with the nerazzuri.
After scoring the two goals in the final and winning World Cup 2002 in Japan and South Korea with the great Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho, Ronaldo made global headlines by signing with Real Madrid. Although injured his jersey broke all sales records when he went back to Spain where he won his first La Liga title. He joined the Galacticos at the Santiago Bernabeu, along with Luis Figo, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane who most people feel was Ronaldo’s greatest rival for all time greatness and the only other man to win 3 FIFA World Player of the Year awards.
World Cup 2006 brought bitter disappointment for a loaded Brazil squad but that did not stop Ronaldo from becoming the all time leading scorer in World Cup history in Germany. That would be his last great moment. Shortly after, Ronaldo moved to AC Milan, much to the dismay of rival Inter fans at the San Siro. Ronaldo was plagued by injuries and weight problems when he joined the theoretically awesome front line of Kaka, Pato and Ronaldo. That dream barely saw the light of day. After a sex scandal really hurt his reputation and jokes about his weight he went back to Brazil to Corinthians to finish up his career. Their early Copa Libertadores loss this year angered fans who blamed his weight and sluggishness. This was not the way for a great player to leave the game he left such a mark on…but that’s life.
I hope he is remembered for the greatness he displayed on the pitch and for inspiring a lot of new fans with his great scoring ability and not for injuries, weight issues and a few bad lapses in judgment. I am a huge and religious soccer fan now and it started because I loved watching Ronaldo back in 1998. I even cheered for him at Real Madrid and I hate them. I hope all goes well for him and he doesn’t end up with a lot of issues like Maradona ended up with after soccer. Although I think Lionel Messi is the best I have ever seen and may end up being one of the 2 or 3 best ever players, for my money, Ronaldo was a close second.