Ronaldo Presidente 2
| |

De Lima “The Original” Ronaldo: A Look Back at His Illustrious Career of the Exciting Brazilian No 9

Although people nowadays may immediately think of the Portuguese Cristiano when the name Ronaldo gets mentioned, those keen football followers around the turn of the Millennium would instantly connect the title with a completely different player.

However, there was no better striker than the man who terrorized defenses wherever he played. When Ronaldo finally hung up his boots, he had won the Ballon d’Or winner twice, a World Cup winner with Brazil, the Copa América twice, the Confederations Cup, and domestic honors with six clubs in four countries. Arguably injury robbed him of what might have been even more success.

Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima – to give him his full birth name (often known as De Lima Ronaldo) was born on September 18th, 1976, in Rio de Janeiro.

His parents separated when he was eleven, and he was brought up mainly by his mother. He often skipped classes to play football in the surrounding streets as a poor student. It was not long after he dropped out altogether to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Like many aspiring footballers in Brazil, he came to prominence while playing futsal. At 12, he set a scoring record for goals in a local league, finishing the season with 166 goals, including eleven in one match.

De Lima joined the São Cristovão youth set-up and played in groups that featured boys considerably older than him. He was spotted by Jairzinho, a former international with the Brazil national team. Already talked about as a child prodigy, he had already acquired his own agents when Jairzinho recommended him to former club Cruzeiro.

He made an immediate impression, scoring four goals on his start, and, within three months, he had made his professional debut.
De Lima scored 44 goals in 47 games with Cruzeiro, helping them win the Brazil Cup for the first time and the local State Championship.

Ronaldo Presidente

Ronaldo’s move to Europe

However, like many Brazilian players, he wanted to move to Europe, not only because the money on offer was better, but that was where all the top players in the world earned their living.
He initially joined PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands on the advice of Brazil teammate Romario, who had also played for the club.
Again he made an instant adaptation to European football – in his two seasons in the Eredivisie, he scored 54 goals in 58 games, won the Dutch Cup, and was the top scorer in the league.

That form inevitably attracted the attention of the top clubs in Europe, and, in 1996, Barcelona would pay what was then a world-record fee to take him to Spain.

He would only stay a year in Catalonia, but averaging almost a goal per game, he did help Barcelona win three cups during his time there.
Following a dispute over his contract, he was on the move again the following year, this time joining Inter Milan in Italy for what was another world-record fee.

He soon became regarded not only as the best striker in Italy but the world, possessed of power, pace, excellent dribbling ability, and unerring accuracy in front of goal.
When he was at Inter Milan, he ruptured a tendon in his knee and made the mistake of trying to come back too soon. In a  match against Lazio, he suffered further damage, with one expert calling it the worst football injury they had ever seen. He missed the entire 2000 – 2011 season and large chunks of the seasons on either side.

Despite that, he helped them win the UEFA Cup. And won the Ballon d’Or the first time, but then, in 2002, he was lured back to Spain to join the all-star team of Real Madrid that became known as the Galacticos—joining the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, and David Beckham.

During his time with Real, he not only won the Ballon d” Or for the second time but also finally won a league title.

However, his later career with them saw more injury issues, and he also began to struggle with the weight problems that would envelop the latter stages of his career.

In 2007 he moved back to Italy and AC Milan, becoming one of the few players featured for both Milan clubs and the two Spanish rivals, Barcelona and Real Madrid. But a combination of injury and weight issues restricted him to barely more than a handful of appearances.

soccermaestros pix Brazilian Ronaldo

He had a spell back in South American football with Corinthians before finally announcing his retirement in 2011.

De Lima made his international debut for Brazil in 1994, but although he was part of the squad that won the World Cup that year in the USA, he did not play in the tournament.

Four years later, though, when they came to defend their title in France, he was the mainstay of their team and scored four goals as they reached the final against the host nation in Paris.

Hours before the big match, however, Ronaldo suffered a convulsive fit. He was removed from the starting lineup before the game but then reinstated, but was a shadow of his usual self during the match itself. Many fans believe that, had he been entirely fit, their team would have been World Cup Winners in 1998.
Four years later, though, he gained redemption for himself.

He shrugged off the injury problems that had plagued his recent carer and led Brazil to their fifth World Cup title. He scored eight goals in the tournament, including two in the final that beat Germany and won the Golden Boot as the top goal scorer.
Later that year, when he was named World Player of the Year for the third time, he dedicated that award to the medical team that had helped him recover.

In 2006, although he was past his best, Ronaldo became only the second player ever to score at least three goals in three successive World Cup finals.

He would go on to play for the Brazil national team 98 times, scoring 62 times. He made his final appearance in a friendly against Romania in June 2011, five years after he last played for them, the Brazilian Football Confederation deciding it was a fitting send-off for one of the finest footballers ever to pull on a national shirt.

Similar Posts