The Day The Samba Died…

“Can anybody, anywhere, show me a better player?”
Sir Bobby Robson

Hmmm, maybe that’s too emotive for a title in which no one has passed away, but I disagree – the Brazilian magicians have now all but disappeared. Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima has retired from the beautiful game, and with it goes the last of a generation of Brazilian connoisseurs of football. A master of the game, he was without question one of the players of his generation. Even crippling injuries weren’t enough to stop him. Here’s a blog/video montage of his talents…

Another Brazilian legend, Romario, advised Ronaldo to move to Europe to kick-start his career, having spent 5 years himself at PSV Eindhoven. So he promptly tore Europe apart from the age of just 17, making hay of the Eredivisie despite his tender years at PSV. One season at Barcelona under the guise of Bobby Robson saw him score a nonchalant 47 goals in 49 games and blazed a trail when Lionel Messi was a mere twinkle in the eye of those Nou Camp regulars. A then world-record transfer fee of £19 million saw him move to Inter Milan but knee injuries meant he never played a full season after 1998 – missing the 2000-01 season completely. (£19 million?! And some bat-shit mental people still think £35 million for Andy Carroll was a good idea…)

A move to Real Madrid followed to become one of the first modern-day Galacticos with the likes of Zinedene Zidane, Luis Figo, Robert Carlos and Steve McManaman… All Manchester United fans will remember this epic performance which not only knocked United out of the Champions League but put one of David Beckham’s feet on the plane to Real Madrid…

And then of course there are the World Cups…

Ronaldinho may remain as one of the samba troupe, but what ever became of him in recent years? Think of the Brazilian side of 1998 – Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Bebeto, Leonardo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu… and amazingly Romario was injured and didn’t even make the competition. Yes we all know Zidane & France won the final comprehensively, but how many times in history do you remember the losing frontman more so that the winning one? For the record, Stephane Guivarc’h played upfront for the French on that night in Paris and was replaced halfway through the second half by Christophe Dugarry. Fucking hell. The worthy side did not win.

Not to be perturbed, he came back and simply won the World Cup in 2002. An impressive feat made all the more staggering when you recognise the sheer seriousness and complexity of injuries he suffered in the 4 years between France and Japan and South Korea. Most Englishmen will remember David Seaman flapping at Ronaldinho’s cross-cum-shot but the more refined football fan will know that was the only game of the tournament that Ronaldo didn’t score in. Danny Mills somehow kept him at bay…

In the 2002 final he tore a road straight through Germany (I could have said wall here, but that would have been somewhat tasteless!). Even the later acknowledged pretender to his World Cup goal scoring record crown, Miroslav Klose, was anonymous to his greatness on that night. Thankfully, Klose never did quite get to 15 in South Africa…

Here they are then, all 15 World Cup goals in glorious wonderment…

…If Klose doesn’t feature for Germany in 2014 and risk beating Ronaldo’s record (ironically, in Brazil) the only person near to his record is David Villa with 8, but he’ll be 32 by 2014 so won’t be getting any younger…

420 goals in just 620 games, his trophy cabinet is staggering – domestically he won the La Liga twice, the UEFA Cup, the Cup Winner’s Cup and the Intercontinetal Cup. For Brazil he won 2 World Cups and 2 Copa Americas, and then individually picked up more awards than Ben Hur despite his injury list. He was FIFA World Player of the Year 3 times, collected the Ballon D’or twice, and so many golden balls he makes David Beckham look particular rusty. He even won the BBC Sports Personality Overseas Player of the Year in 2002 – speaking of which, here’s a video that went with the award…

The man who loved a rasping shot into the far-corner of the net, here’s a montage of 10 of his great goals, accompanied for no reason whatsoever by Lenny Kravitz and Good Charlotte, I’m afraid…

So here’s to ‘O Fenomeno’, a man who could even play in airports…

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About carlmcqueen

Founder of Optajoke - www.twitter.com/mrcarlmcqueen
This entry was posted in International Football and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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