ON MONDAY 14th February 2011 the world said goodbye to one of its deadliest scoring machines, ending an award and trophy-packed 18-year career at the highest levels of world football, twelve of which were glittering. The rest saw him plying his trade in the Dutch and Brazilian Leagues.
In 1993, Ronaldo began his senior career with Cruzeiro, handed a lifeline by Jairzinho who saw something in him other than bucked teeth, after he was initially sent packing by his boyhood idols Flamengo. (Later he was rumoured to reveal that his team was Sligo Rovers; though this has not been confirmed). He managed a decent return of 12 goals in 14 games catapulting him into the Brazil World Cup squad for USA 94.
That summer saw him leave for the bright lights of Eindhoven (Get it? That’s where Philips make their lightbulbs), where in his first season he hit the onion-bag 30 times. However his second stroll round the block in Holland began the series of horridly horrible knee-injuries that blighted his career making Paul McGrath’s legs look a picture of health. While Ronaldo did manage 54 goals in 57 appearances during his stint at PSV, it must be remembered that while a return like that is pretty damn good, everybody scores in Holland, EVERYBODY (wink wink nod nod ).
In 1996, a cheque for $17 million, and a plane ticket to Barcelona, saw a new king being crowned. At age 20 Ronaldo was acclaimed as the youngest World Player of the Year, his first of three. Despite not winning La Liga, Barca won everything else with big Ron himself hitting the target 47 times in 49 games. This is also where his trademark goal came into being; knock a ball past some dozy Spanish defenders, run round them and on occasion through them, get the keeper one on one and push the ball away from him and tap it in, simple as that.
The following summer contract renegotiations with Barca weren’t going well and Ronaldo was not a happy boy, (something that seems to happen to Brazilians quite a lot, see Robinho and Adriano). He played the smart card and purchased the buy-out clause in his contract and along came offers from all the “Big Knobs” across Europe.. and Glasgow Rangers, who reportedly offered £20 million and a contract that included allowing Ronaldo pick the games he wanted to play in. (I’m pretty sure he was chomping at the bit for the away fixture mid-January against St. Johnstone).
However he became a “pleb” by choosing Inter Milan and added himself to the list of stars that Inter either destroyed (Enzo Scifo and Paul Ince), stunted (Denis Bergkamp), froze out (Robbie Keane, for the purposes of my argument and only this argument, he shall be referred to as a star) or turned completely nuts (Adriano).
His first season wasn’t too bad; he bagged himself a bit of silver in the nothing cup (UEFA cup to you and me), grabbed his second World Player of the Year award and topped it off with the Ballon d’Or. They were however, his only bright spots at Milan. Ronaldo crocked his knee in a game against Lecce and upon his return against Lazio managed only seven minutes before he’d done it in again. After countless surgeries (two) and donkeys’ yonks of rehab, he got himself fit and had a complete stormer in the “rigged” World Cup that was 2002 (ask any Italian, they’ll tell you and if anyone knows a “rigged” game when they see it, it’s an Italian.) He scored eight goals and notched up his second World Cup and later in the year his third World Player gong.
After the 2002 tournament Ronaldo signed a 39 million yoyo deal that led him to the Santiago Bernabeu and Real Madrid with their merry band of Galacticos. Crowds chanted his name and gave standing ovations but sadly this was not to last. In time he would experience the disdain of fans who claimed he didn’t fit in (not sure if that was with them or into his shirt). Despite knocking in 104 goals in his 177 appearances in Madrid, his final season in Spain saw him fall out with Fabio Capello due to injury and weight issues, and was topped off with the arrival of Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Von Hisselboom for Pro Evo fans). It was clear Ronaldo had to dick off elsewhere, so much so that when he joined AC Milan in January of 2007 he personally had to fork out cash, because Real thought the transfer price was too low.
His Milan career was short, very short, – 18 months saw him take part in only 20 games. His weight didn’t do him any favours and coupled with completely banjaxing his other knee in February 2008, his time was up at Milan, and they duely terminated his contract at the end of that season.
Having moved back home to Brazil and making himself familiar with the country’s third biggest export after footballers and wood, namely tranny hookers (can’t believe he didn’t spot the adams apples) his recovery saw him train with Flamengo who said the door was open for him to sign but in a nice turn of events, and remembering what they did to him as a boy, he fecked ‘em over and signed for Corinthians instead (I love a good case of ‘ya reap what ya sow’), where his 69 appearances led him to average a goal every other game.
Finally, during a press conference on Valentines Day of 2011, Ronaldo broke down in floods of tears announcing his retirement, citing his hypo-thyroidism (apparently it’s something fat people blame for being overweight, might use that one meself) and the fact that his body had given in to the litany of injuries that plagued his career.
Ronaldo…you will be missed