September the 18th 1976 a baby is born to a poor family in Rio favela Bento Rebero, it will be four days later until this family can afford a birth certificate to officially register its birth. The baby is named Ronaldo Luis Nazzario De Lima, and from this crippling poverty a genius would emerge.
Ronaldo began his professional career with Cruzerio aged just 16 and soon set the Braserilio a light scoring 12 goals in 16 games, leading Cruzerio to the Copa Do Brazil along the way. Comparisons were beginning to materialize with the Great Pele, who had archived similar success domestically at the same age with Santos. This comparison would be further strengthened in a year later when Ronaldo still only 17 years of age was included in the World Cup squad for USA 94, just as Pele had been in 1958. Brazil returned victorious and were crowned champions of the world for a fourth time. Although Ronaldo didn’t feature in the tournament the experience of being part of a world cup winning squad was invaluable, soon after PSV Eindhoven bought the young striker form Cruzerio and the his first steps in European Football were taken.
Ronaldo’s prolific goal scoring continued totaling 42 goals in 46 during his two year spell in Holland. His talent was developing rapidly, and his trademark stepovers and nutmegs dazzled both fans and defenders. He finished top goal scorer in the Eredivisie in his first season and won the Dutch cup in his second. However in his second season with the club Ronaldo suffered a knee injury and missed most of the 1995/96 season, this would unfortunately be first in a long line of knee problems. The youngsters services were once again i demand, and all of Europe’s top clubs were chasing his signature. It was clear that a substantial fee would have to be paid and it was Barcelona who did so, offering a world record 17 million pounds.
Upon his arrival in Cataluña “Ronaldomania” kick off, it took Ronaldo over an hour to leave the building of the airport as fans swept through the terminal to greet the striker. On the field Ronaldo had a magnificent season and performed at a supremely high level eventually scoring a staggering 47 goals in 49 games. He also finished top goal scorer in La Liga, won the Spanish Super Cup, Copa Del Rey, and the Cup Winners Cup this list of honors and incredible performances would lead to him winning FIFA World Player of The Year for the first time, becoming the youngest ever winner of Footballs top honor. This was one of two seasons that Ronaldo truly played football. His ferocious speed and power, coupled with his excellent relationship with the ball allowed him to pierce through entire defenses and finish clinically.
Everything wasn’t well in Spain, a contract negotiation had left relationships with senior clubs agreed a fee of 19 Million pounds, another world record fee, and the Striker joined the Nuezurri for the 1997/98 campaign. In his debut season Ronaldo became the complete forward, his terrific goal scoring continued, he racked up many assist, and by the end of the season was made captain and had amassed 34 goals in 47 games. Although Inter didn’t finish the league as champions, they did win the UEFA Cup, Ronaldo scoring the winner in the final. His reward for another remarkable season was FIFA World Player of The Year again, and the Ballon D’or. Incidentally it was during this season when Ronaldo received his now famous nickname: the phenomenon or O Fenomeno, from Italian Sports paper Gazella dello Sport.
In the summer of 98 Brazil traveled to France for the world cup, much was except of Ronaldo being the number one play in the world, and he didn’t disappoint. All together he scored 4 goals, and entertained fans with maze dribbles and terrific skills, leading his team to the final with a goal in the semi Final against Holland. However on the eve of the final Ronaldo suffered a convulsive fit, which has led to much speculation surrounding the reason why, some rumors even suggest he was poisoned by French staff in his hotel. Whatever the cause, nerves, drugs, or even poison Ronaldo, and Brazil fail miserably in the final and France ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. It is also rumored that Nike pressured the coach Mario Zagallo, to select the Phenomenon.
In the season that followed Ronaldo was frequently injured, due to his awful knee condition, however as always he continued to score when called upon, totaling 14 goals in only 19 games. Ronaldo did regain fitness in time for Copa America 1999 where Brazil would defend the title they won 2 years earlier. Ronaldo achieved redemption for the final of the world cup a year earlier, firing Brazil to the title and finishing top goal scorer in the tournament. Although he was not to know it, his ultimate achievement still lay ahead of him, but in these years there truly was no one better, more exciting and more inspiring than Ronaldo Luis Nazzario De Lima. A true Phenomenon.
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