My Footballing Hero – Ronaldo
It all began with an innocent childhood session of cult videogame Sensible Soccer, when I signed a player relatively unknown to me. He was fast, had great ball control and was a brutally efficient finisher. I was hooked. Even in those early days of video gaming excellence, life proved to imitate art and I found the real Life version to be equally as thrilling a player, although I’m not sure he could bend the ball quite as well!!! He was the first footballer I idolised who I had no affiliation with through my supported team or nation.
When people hear the name Ronaldo, many think Cristiano, something of an injustice given how supremely talented the ‘original’ Ronaldo was. Take nothing away from CR7, but to me there will always be one Ronaldo, or Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima to give his full name.
It’s a real shame that many football fans think of Ronaldo as ‘that fat, goofy Brazilian with the crap haircut and dodgy knees’, but I have to question how many have seen the guy play. When he burst onto the scene as a teenager it was clear to see he was a special player, his speed, power and eye for goal made him a formidable opponent for any defence and he went on to win every team and individual honour going except inexplicably a European Cup(Champions League). His close control was simply ridiculous and he could burst past a man in the blink of an eye. Perhaps what made him stand out even further was the fact he always played with a smile on his face and when watching him play he just looked like a kid having fun on the pitch, doing what he loved best. I simply loved to watch him play at the peak of his powers.
He broke world transfer records when joining both Barcelona(47 goals in 49 games) and Inter Milan(59 goals in 99 games) and it was at the latter when his notorious injury problems first occurred. ‘Il Fenomeno’ was eventually transferred to Real Madrid for a then whopping €46m and it was here that one of my lasting memories of the man were created. Ronaldo became the 1st man to score a Champions League hattrick at Old Trafford on their way to a famous 3-2 win against Man United. It earned him the honour of a standing ovation from the home crowd and a place in my heart forever(as a delighted Liverpool fan!!!!!)
That night at Old Trafford – a magnificent hattrick performance
His record on the international stage was extraordinary, winning 2 World Cups and finishing as a runner up to France in 1998. Even then, Ronaldo could argue that had he not suffered a seizure in the run up to the match, he may have inspired Brazil to victory again in Paris. His 2nd World Cup triumph was record breaking in that he became the highest goalscorer in World Cup history, surpassing Gerd Muller’s 14. Prior to the World Cup Ronaldo had been written off as an overweight, past it, pie muncher and arrived sporting a ridiculous haircut, yet despite a clear loss of his frightening pace, he almost single handedly won the World Cup for Brazil. He finished his international career with an astonishing record of 62 goals in 98 games.
A must watch compilation of Ronaldo’s goals
As an individual, Ronaldo is one of only 3 men to have won the FiFA Player of the Year award 3 times, Messi and Zidane are his illustrious companions(Cristiano take note!!!) 2 of those were won before he even turned 21 but unfortunately knee injuries were to take their toll on the great man over the next few years and would prove to be a defining issue in his career. It is my belief, that without these injuries Ronaldo would firmly be placed as one of the very best of all-time. In my eyes at least, he is regardless.
Club – 518 games 352 goals
International – 98 games 62 goals
2 time World Cup winner
Highest scorer in World Cup history
3 time and youngest ever FIFA World Player of the Year
2 time Ballon D’Or winner