Though his future as a professional may have been written off by many observers,
his stature as one of the greatest footballers ever to play the game means there
is always hope for Ronaldo. Well on the road to fitness seven months on from his
latest knee operation, the Brazilian superstar told FIFA.com assuredly: "I'll be
Luiz Nazario de Lima's face remains as boyish as ever, though the player known
across the globe as Ronaldo is clearly carrying more weight than at the peak of
his form. "When you haven't been able to do any physical activity for five
months, it's only natural to put on weight," admitted the three-time FIFA World
Player of the Year. "I just let the press keep making digs about it, it doesn't
Having been operated on in Paris on 14 February 2008, after the third serious
knee injury of his career, the 32-year-old striker has been back in his hometown
of Rio de Janeiro since 1 September. Under fire from the Brazilian press thanks
his incident-packed social life, the leading scorer in FIFA World Cup™ finals
history has vowed to put his latest injury nightmare behind him. "I will be back
and I'll rediscover my best form. I'll play football again like I did before,"
Ahead of schedule
Upon arriving back in Rio, Ronaldo placed his rehabilitation programme in
the hands of his boyhood idols Flamengo and their medical staff. Having begun
the process at previous club AC Milan, who made the decision not to renew his
contract after it expired on 30 June, he continues to put in two daily
physiotherapy sessions, six days a week, accompanied by his personal trainer and
the Rubro-Negro medical team.
"He's very focused and is working well. His recovery is ahead of schedule," said
the player's friend and physiotherapist Bruno Mazzotti. "He can already kick a
ball now just seven months on, when at the beginning we didn't expect him to be
able to do anything before the ten to 11-month stage."
As part of his daily routine, mornings are dedicated to muscle-strengthening and
afternoons to technical exercises, including slaloms and sprint work with the
ball at his feet. Such is his progress that Ronaldo has even joined in training
sessions with the Flamengo squad. "I'm not feeling any twinges in my knee
anymore and that's what really matters," he said.
The muscles are still weak though and it's not easy to get a machine going that
hasn't been used for so long. From now on it's about working on my physical
condition - that's the trickiest part but I'm on the right track," added the
former Cruzeiro, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid player,
who hopes to be back to full fitness within three months.
"He's going to be successful, I'm sure of it," opined former Marseille and
Hertha Berlin star Marcelinho, Flamengo's biggest signing this campaign. "He's
motivated and based on what I see every day, once he's back to his ideal weight
he'll be the player he used to be again. He's working hard without worrying
about what people might think. He's in good spirits and you can see that his
knee's not hurting him anymore."
And for O Mengão's chief doctor, the forward's current weight is of no great
concern: "He just needs to lose five or six kilos and he'll be back to what he
weighed before the 2002 World Cup. To be quite honest, nobody here is worried
about his weight."
Nor does anybody in the Ronaldo camp doubt that his third comeback from serious
injury will have a happy ending. Could it be that yet another serious injury,
and the prospect of an end to his footballing career, has reignited Ronaldo's
passion for the beautiful game? "Right from the first day he knew he'd be back
and he's given it everything he's got. He's still as determined as ever," added
This determination, Ronaldo is convinced, will help him return to the heights of
the sport once again.