After a glorious career, former World Player of the Year Ronaldo has retired from football aged 34. After last week’s Libertadores fiasco, subsequent injury and threats/abuse from fans, Ronaldo has decided to call it a day. Speaking to a local newspaper, he said: “I can’t take it anymore. I want to continue, but I can’t. I think of what I want to do on the field but I can’t execute it the way I would like. It’s time. It was beautiful”. So that’s it. WOW. The great man is retiring with immediate effect.
For such a great player who has achieved so much, it would be wrong to criticise him. Yes, he looked and played like a whale recently. A whale with a very good touch mind you. But put that into context; he came back from three career-threatening injuries and continued to score goals and play at the highest level wherever he went; he won two World Cups; he was the all-time leading scorer at World Cups with 15 goals; he was the 3 times World Player of the year; he won countless trophies at club level; he played for Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Corinthians. Pretty darn good I say.
He was one of the generation’s most talented footballers. As a gangly 20 year old for Barcelona his performances were amazing. At Inter Milan he was unstoppable on his day. He fought back from his second career threatening injury to lead Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002. Despite being overweight in 2006, he was the one Brazilian player who took the fight to France in their 2006 World Cup quarter final defeat.
When he came to Brazil after suffering his third serious injury, he was even fatter. But, despite that, he scored the equalizing goal and was man-of-the-match for a 20 minute cameo against Palmeiras in only his second match back. He went on to score lots of goals for Corinthians in 2009 and won the Campeonato Paulista and Brazilian Cup in his first year.
Apart from the odd incident with a transvestite or new kid springing up on another continent, he is a respectable guy. No drink or drug problems. He’s no Paul Gascoigne, Diego Maradona or Adriano in that sense. What more he could have achieved if it wasn’t for those injuries, I wonder?
I only saw him play live once. In 2004. Brazil x Argentina in Belo Horizonte. He was fat and lazy and didn’t run at all (nothing really changed). But he got the ball three times, ran straight for goal cutting left, right, step-overs, faints, shimmies. All of the football lingo you like. He was unstoppable. He was tripped in the box three times and converted all three penalties. Brazil 3 Argentina 1. On his day, for me, he must be the best centre-forward since Maradona. Comments/tributes welcome.
Couple of nice links here to refresh the memories: