Ronaldo, the Brazilian striker, confirmed on Monday that he has called time on a rich and unforgettable career at 34 – and lovers of his brilliance in Cayman are paying tribute to one of the greatest forwards ever.
Currently with Corinthians, Ronaldo cited injury and fitness concerns as the reason for bowing out months before his final contract was due to expire. “My body aches. In my head I want to continue, but this body can’t take much more,” Ronaldo said. “In recent days I have cried like a baby.” Injuries – especially to his knees – have blighted his career. That and a tendency to pile on the pounds.
He’s spent the last two years at Corinthians after a glorious spell in Europe with PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid and AC Milan. His one season at Camp Nou is frequently cited as one of the greatest individual campaigns in football history, while his spells at San Siro and the Bernabeu were no less eventful.
Ronaldo is one of Brazil’s greatest ever players. He is the World Cup’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 15 in four tournament appearances – two of which they won, in 1994 and 2002.
After Corinthians were eliminated from the Copa Libertadores early, and his injuries prevented consistent run in the Timao line-up, Ronaldo called it a day. Another reason he cited for retiring was because of fan violence and intimidation because Corinthians went out unexpectedly in the only domestic trophy they haven’t won. Team-mate Roberto Carlos has also quit the club because of intimidation from disgruntled supporters.
Despite his unsatisfactory departure, Ronaldo will be remembered fondly by Nikolai Hill, striker with Scholars International and sports presenter on Radio Cayman. “He was a fantastic player, absolutely brilliant,” he said. “One of the all-time greatest and I’ll put him up there with all the great Brazilians of the past.”
Neil Murray, who has had a long playing career with George Town and is main organiser of the CUC Primary Schools League, said: “I remember best his earlier career with Inter Milan and that excellent group of players. He was always dangerous. He could be quiet for 89 minutes then boom, show a touch of class and score.”
Both Hill and Murray think Ronaldo was at his best when he burst on the scene at PSV Eindhoven with his electric pace and predator’s instinct for goal. He went on to have a wonderful career and will always be admired for his fabulous goals, including two in the 2002 World Cup final.