Reports suggest Ronaldo will announce his retirement on Monday, so the Hall of Fame takes a look back at the glittering career of a man dubbed ‘the greatest striker of all time’.
It’s difficult to say just how many goals make a striker great. But when an individual scores 420 goals in 620 matches: that is a truly awesome achievement. Ronaldo Luís Nazario de Lima’s countless individual awards include the Fifa World Player of the Year (3 times), the Ballon D’or (2 times), the European Golden Boot and the World Cup’s most valuable player.His club career has seen him win two La Liga titles, the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup, the UEFA Cup and the Copa del Rey. But Ronaldo never played for Barcelona, he never played for Milan, he never played for Madrid: he played for Brazil. The front man scored 62 goals from 97 appearances for his national side, grabbing 15 in one year in 1997.
But, 2002 was arguably his greatest year as Ronaldo helped Brazil win the World Cup, scoring twice in the final against Germany; his second meant he equalled Pele’s record of 12 career World Cup goals. ’02 also saw Ronaldo win his third FIFA World Player of the Year title, his second Ballon D’or and leave Inter Milan for Real Madrid in a €39million move. He scored twice on his debut, ended the season with 23 league goals and did what he couldn’t at rivals Barcelona: he won the La Liga title.
The Brazilian was always prolific. At just 18, playing for PSV, he amassed a sensational 30 goals from 33 league games. That tally was miles behind his best goal-scoring season, at Barcelona in the ‘96-’97 season, when he notched 47 from 49 appearances. Henry Winter has eulogised Ronaldo on Twitter proclaiming that he ‘came alive when he saw a keeper’. He sure did. Composure, finesse and technique combined with an explosive pace meant goals came as easy (and in as much abundance) as 1-2-3. But ‘the phenomenon‘ had a weakness.
Aad de Mos, Ronaldo’s gaffer at PSV, has said about Ronaldo: “The only thing we had to work on was his defence because he thought he could just stand upfront and wait for the ball’. Michel Salgado, a team-mate a Real, “Ronaldo might not have trained very hard when he was at Real Madrid but, the thing is, the rest of us (the Madrid team) genuinely didn’t care.” Even Henry Winter followed his remarks about Ronaldo by labelling him ‘lazy‘ in World Cup training sessions adding he was ‘so far back in warm-up runs that he was almost on the bus.‘ Lazy or not, the principal role of a striker is to finish off the moves, and Ronaldo became a text-book example of a goal-scoring striker.
Now Ronaldo’s glittering playing career looks set to end in Brazil- the country where it all began for this footballing icon- and he will see out his 18-year-career playing for Corinthians. It’s one thing to be remembered as one of the great strikers of all-time, but a totally different achievement to be known as one of the best Brazilian players of all-time: a title of which Ronaldo must surely be afforded.