The end came earlier then many would have expected and hoped, but 34 year old Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, better known as simply Ronaldo, yesterday announced in Brazil that he is ending his colourful playing career with immediate effect. The main reason is health problems which have troubled him for some time, while a factor will also be the issue of fan aggression against him and his family at Corinthians after the club was eliminated from the Copa Libertadores. If this had not had happened then he might have played on until the end of the season.
Ronaldo's track record as a striker is amongst the best to have ever played the beautiful game at club and international level plus 'O Fenomeno' had this bullish approach where defenders weren't simply able to stop him on his way to score.
Ronaldo is the highest goalscorer in FIFA World Cup history with 15 goals to his name and on two occasions he was part of World Cup winning Brazilian squads. In 1994 as a mere 17 year old prodige and spectator as he did not play a minute in the tournament, while in 2002 the architect of the Selecao's victory scoring eight goals. In-between the infamous 1998 World Cup final incidence which is still a mystery. Ronaldo ended his international career having scored 62 goals in 97 appearances. Many say he could have added a few more if coach Dunga had picked him for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo would be crowned FIFA Player of the Year thrice winning the title in 1996, 1997 and 2002. He is the record title holder along with former club mate Zinedine Zidane of France. Further he was also top goalscorer in different leagues for his club sides.
Ronaldo played a total of 466 club games scoring an incredible 326 goals. He started his professional career at home in Brazil with Cruzeiro (1993/94), before moving to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven (1994-96) just like his idol Romario and then came the short, impressive stint at FC Barcelona (1996/97); before he made a record move to Internationale Milan (1997-2002). He then was part of the legendary Galacticos at Real Madrid (2002-07) and when no longer wanted he moved to AC Milan (2007-08); but with little success and injuries in his second Italian stint he returned home to join Corinthians (2009-11) where he ended his career yesterday.
The world losses one of its best-ever strikers, who was not adverse to controversy; but with health problems and he himself realising that he isn't at the level he needs to be able to compete at the top level, it is a wise move. It will be interesting to see in what capacity we see Ronaldo in the future - coach, pundit, mentor or just a spectator at grounds.