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Ronaldo

Brazil

Full name: Luiz Ronaldo Nazario de Lima
Date of birth: 22/09/1976
Position: Forward
International caps: 97
International goals: 62
World Cups: 1994 - Champions
1998 - Runners-up
2002 - Champions
2006 - Quarter finals
World Footballer of the Year: 1996,1997,2002
European Footballer of the Year: 1997,2002
Clubs: Cruzeiro
PSV Eindhoven
Barcelona
Inter Milan
Real Madrid
AC Milan
1993-1994
1994-1996
1996-1997
1997-2002
2002-2007
2007-present

Born in a poor area of Rio de Janeiro, Ronaldo started playing football on the streets of his neighborhood. At 14, Brazilian legend Jairzinho recognised Ronaldo's ability and recommended him to the Brazil youth team, as well as to Cruzeiro, who signed him professionally as soon as he was 17.

Ronaldo scored 12 goals in 14 games in the Brazilian National Championship, and in the Minas Gerais State Championship he scored a hat-trick in Cruzeiro's 3-1 victory against rivals Atletico Mineiro. He was scouted by Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, for whom he signed in 1994. In two seasons with PSV he scored 42 goals in 46 league games (55 in 57 altogether), was top scorer in the league the first season and won the Dutch cup in the second.

Ronaldo in action

Ronaldo made his international debut for Brazil in 1994, in a friendly match against Argentina, and he to the USA for the 1994 World Cup, but did not play. Confusingly, he was known then as Ronaldinho, since Ronaldo Guiaro was called Ronaldo. A third player, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, who is now widely known as Ronaldinho, was previously called Ronaldinho Gaucho. In the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ronaldo scored 5 goals in 6 games, and Brazil won the bronze medal, after losing 4-3 after extra time to eventual winners Nigeria in the semis, but beating Portugal 5-0 in the third place play-off.

His goalscoring for PSV and Brazil inevitably attracted the attention of the giant European clubs, with Barcelona signing him in 1996. Despite scoring scoring 47 goals in 49 games (34 in 37 in La Liga), helping the club to the European Cup Winners' Cup, Copa del Rey and Spanish Supercup, and winning numerous player awards, the Spanish club sold him to Italian giants Internazionale at the end of the season. He helped Inter win the UEFA Cup in his first season in Italy.

Ronaldo in action

Having won both the Confederations Cup and Copa America in 1997, Brazil were confident going into the 1998 World Cup in France. They stormed to the final, as Ronaldo scored four goals, with three additional assists. However, the night before the final, he apparently suffered a convulsive fitand was initially removed from the starting lineup although was later reinstated by coach Mario Zagallo in a confusing episode which can't have helped the team prepare. Ronaldo did not perform well in this match (but was later awarded the tournament Golden Ball for best player) and he was injured in a collision with the French goalkeeper; Brazil capitulated to France 3-0.

A year after the World Cup he suffered a serious injury to his knee and was out for several months. In his first match back in 2000, he managed only seven minutes before a recurrence of the injury forced him to the sidelines yet again. After two operations and 20 months in rehabilitation, Ronaldo came back just in time for the World Cup of 2002. In an inspired set of performances, he won the golden shoe as top scorer with eight goals, as Brazil eased their way to a fifth World Cup. Ronaldo scored in every game, apart from the quarter final against England, and he scored both goals in a 2-0 final victory over Germany.

Ronaldo in action

Ronaldo was named World and European player of 2002. Having scored 49 goals in just 68 games in 5 injury plagued years for Internazionale, he tranferred to the Galacticos of Real Madrid soon after the World Cup, for about £20million. He immediately helped Real win the European Supercup and the Intercontinental Cup (where he was man of the match), but was subsequently sidelined until October 2002 through injury, although he did then score two goals in his league debut. In that first season Ronaldo scored 23 league goals, as well as 6 in the European Cup including a hat-trick away to Manchester United in the quater finals, for which he received a standing ovation from the United fans. Although Real lost in the Semis fo that competition, they did win the Spanish League and Spanish Supercup.

In the 2006 World Cup in Germany, although Ronaldo was critised for his weight and general fitness, the Brazilian coach stuck with him. He repaid this by socring twice against Japan in the first round group stage and again against Ghana in the third round. This was his 15th World Cup goal, breaking Gerd Muller's previous record of 14. He was unable to improve on this record as Brazil were eliminated by France in the next round.

Having scored 69 goals in 98 La Liga games for Real Madrid, but with a lack of trophies for a number of years, Ronaldo was transferred to AC Milan in early 2007, where he has so far continued scoring at a rate better than a goal every two games. He has therefore become one of the only player to have starred for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, and played on both sides of the Milan derby (incidentally having scored for both).

To date he has scored 62 goals in 97 international games for Brazil.