Footballing Icons: RONALDO R9

Legendary Brazilian striker R9 is regarded as one of the best footballers to ever grace the game. The powerful forward had pace in abundance and quick feet that left many a defender in his wake, combined with his clinical and deadly finishing in front of goal he earned himself the nickname ‘O Fenômeno‘ which translates to ‘The Phenomenon’.

Ronaldo Nazário made his professional debut aged 17 for Brazilian side Cruzeiro in 1993 and made an instant impact scoring 44 goals in 47 games which got him selected for the Brazil World Cup squad in 1994. His compatriot striker, Romario alerted his former employers, PSV of the up and coming wonder kid and he was soon on the plane to the Netherlands after the World Cup to Join Bobby Robson’s PSV. R9 took the Eridivisie by storm scoring 54 goals in 58 games in his two seasons in Eindhoven, Holland. The goal machine caught the eye of Dutch legend Johan Cruyff who was manager of Barcelona and in the summer of 1996, Ronaldo headed to the Camp Nou in a $19.5 million deal.

The goals kept flowing in La Liga and R9 ended his first season and only season at Barcelona scoring 47 goals in 49 games in all competitions, which led to the 20 year old becoming the youngest player to win FIFA World Player of the Year. After contract negotiations collapsed at Barca, the Brazilian international broke the World transfer fee for a second time when Inter Milan parted with $27 million for his services.

The Serie A proved equally as fruitful for the serial striker, who notched 59 goals in 99 games during his spell at the San Siro which earned him the Ballon d’Or. Unfortunately, his five years with the Nerazzurri was dramatically impacted by serious injury in 1999 which reduced his time on the pitch.

In 2002, Ronaldo returned to La Liga when he joined Real Madrid in a €46m deal and became a ‘Galacticos’. Once again he lived up to the mantle, becoming a Real Madrid legend scoring over 100 goals for Los Blancos in his five years at the Santiago Bernabeu. Aged 31, Ronaldo moved back to Milan but this time for AC Milan but serious injury once again impacted his time for the Rossoneri. He returned to Brazil and made his final swansong for Corinthians scoring 29 goals in 54 games before retiring in 2011.

For his country, the talented marksman made 98 appearances for Seleção and scored 62 goals making him the third top goal scorer for his country behind Pele and Neymar. During his international career he lifted the World Cup twice in 1994 and 2002.

I give you ‘O Fenômeno‘ a footballing legend!

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