People are born into the world with one purpose. Is there anyone
who is unsure of Ronaldo's purpose? As well as being an out and out goalscorer,
this particular world beater is blessed with an amazing range of tricks and
skills; he is capable of doing things that make even opposition fans stand up
Such wonderful talent could be seen as soon as he started kicking a ball. Born
in the suburbs of Bento Ribeiro, in Rio de Janeiro, it was there, on the local
pitches, that the legend of Ronaldo was born. The player fell in love with
football at Valqueire futsal club and soon after at Social Ramos. He was top
scorer in every competition he played in for both these clubs. He then made the
step up to eleven-a-side with São Cristóvão, a small club in the northern
suburbs of Rio.
It was immediately clear that boy and ball were made for each other. Cruzeiro
were quick to take notice and soon signed him up. ‘Dadado’, as he was known as a
kid, left his childhood home to follow his destiny and moved to Belo Horizonte.
From that moment on, his star has not stopped shining brightly. In 1993, wearing
the Number 20 shirt for Cruzeiro, he impressed in the Minas Gerais State
Championship. The following year, now wearing the Number 9 shirt that he has
made famous all over the world, he was given a bigger stage, as he was
introduced to Brazil’s national championship Ronaldo, then known in football
circles as Ronaldinho, scored a total of 57 goals in 59 matches for Cruzeiro, a
strike rate that earned him a call-up to his first World Cup at just 17 years
old, just like Pele. Even though he didn't get on the pitch at USA’94, he sealed
a move to Europe straight after the tournament, signing for PSV Eindhoven.
It wasn’t long before the whole world was waking up to Ronaldo’s talents. It
took him just one season in Holland (1994-95) to show everyone what he could do.
He was top scorer in the league and a Dutch Cup winner in his first season.
Overall, during his time with PSV he scored an incredible 66 goals in 71 matches.
However, there were even more dramatic developments to come. In 1995, he
cemented place in the starting eleven of the Brazilian national team, and the
following year he joined the mighty Barcelona.
His trajectory at the Catalan club was every bit as meteoric as his previous
rise in the football world had been. He enjoyed ten unforgettable months wearing
the Number 9 shirt for Barca, scoring no less than 47 goals in 51 matches in the
1996-97 season, including 34 goals – most of them memorable - in 37 league
matches. Inter Milan had been watching closely, and in 1997 they swooped to sign
him for a world record fee. It took Ronaldo very little time to earn himself the
ideal nickname, one which has since stuck: ‘The Phenomenon’. Although playing in
a country where defences are notoriously difficult to break down, Ronaldo,
wearing the Number 9 shirt once more, continued to waltz past defenders and
leave goalkeepers picking the ball out of the back of the net. In the 1997-98
season, thanks to his wonderful skills and prowess, he chalked up the best goal
average in the history of Italian football. His scoring average was hampered by
a serious injury that sidelined him for a long period, but even so he managed 69
goals in 114 matches for Inter. After returning from injury, he not only made a
full recovery, but proved to the world just how great a player he was by winning
the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea, bringing the tournament to life and
finishing top scorer with 8 goals.
He returned to Spain in 2002, now wearing the Number 11 shirt of Real Madrid (though
he would later be given his beloved Number 9). As a member of the ‘Galacticos’
team along side David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Raul, he scored 118 goals in
194 games during a five-year spell, his longest with one club.
Having played for Spain’s two biggest and bitterest rivals, he went on to repeat
the feat in Italy. Halfway through the 2006-07 season, AC Milan decided to show
the world – and rivals Inter, their most fierce adversaries – that a
‘Phenomenon’ as gifted as Ronaldo could not resist the allure of their
world-famous red and black shirt. This time his number was not 9, but the 99.
The striker scored 8 goals in his first 14 appearances for the Rossoneri.
On top of all his club goals, Ronaldo has, to date, scored 73 goals in 112
senior and Olympic matches for his country. If you then add the two goals he has
scored for FIFA representative sides, the world beater from Rio has amassed an
incredible 440 goals in 616 professional matches, averaging 0.71 goals per game.
Does anyone still doubt that Ronaldo was born to score goals?