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World Cup player profile: Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima

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One of the most recognised names in World football the Brazilian Ronaldo has a goal scoring record at World Cup’s that current Ballon D’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo can only dream of.

The ‘original’ Ronaldo is the current all-time top scorer at FIFA World Cup’s with 15 goals spread across three tournaments. That record may be under threat this year by German Miroslav Klose, who is only one goal away from matching Ronaldo’s record. Even if Klose does manage to match or over take Ronaldo this summer, no one can deny that Ronaldo is one of the greatest strikers to have played the beautiful game.

Over his career he managed 62 goals for the Brazilian national team in 98 caps, coming second only to the great Pele in the nations scoring charts. He has been named as one of the countries ambassadors ahead of the World Cup in Brazil this summer. It was in his home land where Ronaldo started his illustrious career, grabbing 41 goals in 45 games for Cruzeiro before heading to the 1994 World Cup as a 17 year old.

The national team went on to lift the trophy that year with Ronaldo as part of the squad, but he did not feature in any of the matches. After the World Cup, he made the move to Europe and joined PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch League, taking advice from another successful Brazilian striker Romario. In his debut season for PSV he grabbed 30 goals for the club, which handed him the top goal scorer award in the Dutch league for that season. His second season was however marred by injury, meaning he missed the majority of the season. Despite this, Ronaldo scored 12 goals in 13 games and helped his side to lift the Dutch Cup.

His impressive form in Holland earned Ronaldo a £13.2 million move to Spain to star for Barcelona. His first stint in Spain was a short one as the striker only spent one season at the Catalan giants before moving on again, amid a contractual battle between the him and the club. Despite criticisms of his lifestyle and not fitting into the hardworking Catalan way of life, Ronaldo’s short spell at Barcelona was a success as he grabbed 34 league goals in 37 games, but Barcelona couldn’t win the league as they came two points behind rivals Real Madrid. Many blame this on Ronaldo missing a crucial tie against Hercules whilst Ronaldo was playing for Brazil, which left some of the Cules questioning his commitment to the club. Barcelona did however, win the Copa Del Ray and Cup Winners Cup, with Ronaldo scoring the winner in the final of the latter.

The aforementioned contract dispute saw Ronaldo depart Barcelona and sign for Inter Milan for an £18 million transfer fee and he quickly settled to life in the Serie A scoring 25 goals in his first season before starring for Brazil in the 1998 World Cup where he grabbed his first four goals at World Cup finals. Controversy surrounded his appearance in the final as Brazil were brushed aside 3-0 by France. Just over an hour before kick-off Ronaldo was omitted from the team sheet for the final, only to re-appear 30 minutes later. It was later revealed that the striker had suffered a convulsion the night before the final and many theorists claim that this was the reason behind many of the Brazilians poor performance in the final, as they were concerned for the safety of their team mate. Despite the final defeat, Ronaldo won the Golden Ball as he was named as player of the tournament.

In the following season Ronaldo picked up a ruptured tendon in his knee and only lasted seven minutes on his return before suffering further damage to his knee and this series of knee injuries caused Ronaldo to miss the entire 2000/01 season and a large majority of the two seasons either side of it. Despite this when he did play Ronaldo averaged an impressive record just short of one goal every two games and recovered from his injury worries in time to lead the line for Brazil in the 2002 World Cup.

The 2002 World Cup was undoubtedly the highest point of Ronaldo’s career, as he bagged eight goals in the tournament as Brazil won the trophy in Japan and South Korea. It was a brace from Ronaldo that won the final against Germany and to top it off Ronaldo had personal success by winning the Golden Boot for most goals scored in that tournament, comfortably beating joint second place Miroslav Klose and Rivaldo who had 5 goals apiece.

This earned Ronaldo a move back to Spain, but this time it was to play for Barcelona’s rivals Real Madrid. The controversial transfer cost Real Madrid 39 million euros and signalled the Madridista’s commitment to their “Galacticos” policy of signing the best talent available in World football, at any price. Ronaldo stayed at Madrid for four and a half seasons scoring 104 goals in 177 games before moving back to Italy to play for AC Milan, again crossing the divide in terms of rivalry between clubs.

During his time at Real Madrid, Ronaldo played in another World Cup for Brazil in 2006. By this stage Ronaldo was past his best and faced jeers in the opening two games due to criticisms of his poor form and for being overweight. However, Ronaldo repaid his managers faith by scoring two in the final group game against Japan to equal Gerd Muller’s record. Ronaldo then set the record of 15 World Cup goals by scoring against Ghana in the last 16 stage. This was his final goal at World Cup finals, as Brazil were knocked out by France in the quarter finals. This proved to be Ronaldo’s 62nd and final goal for the Seleção as he only played one more game in Brazilian colours, a rare ‘farewell’ game at international level in 2011 as he played a 15 minute cameo role against Romania.

Ronaldo moved clubs again back to his homeland to play for Corinthians and managed to score 35 goals in 69 games before retiring from the sport. His record of 62 goals for Brazil is only bettered by Pele and his inspirational performances, particularly in the 2002 World Cup, will live long in the memory of Brazilians and football fans alike. The pressure of the Brazilian public will be on new Golden boy Neymar to produce the same level of performance this year, can he go down in history like Ronaldo?

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