Tributes are pouring in from around the world as one of the greats of the beautiful game has called it a career. Ronaldo, a.k.a. O Fenomeno (The Phenomenon), tearfully announced his retirement today after 18 seasons as a professional in four countries. He ends his storied career with some of the following highlights for club and country:
- Three-time FIFA Player of the Year – a feat equaled only by Zidane
- Youngest-ever player to win the FIFA Player of the Year Award (1996 at age 20)
- Leading goal scorer in the history of the World Cup with 15
- Moved from FC Barcelona to Inter Milan for a then world-record fee of $48M
- Scored 8 goals in the 2002 World Cup, including both in Brazil’s 2-0 victory over Germany in the final.
- Scored over 400 goals in just over 600 games as a professional
Ronaldo’s career was filled with both the sacred and the profane. The sublime and the ridiculous, and he loved the soccer world so much that he announced his retirement on Valentine’s Day.
Citing a declined physical state and overall lack of fitness as reasons, the man who was the face of Brazilian (and world) soccer for over a decade said:
“I can’t take any more. I wanted to continue, but I can’t do it any more. I think of an action, but I can’t do it the way I want to. It’s time. It’s the body that’s hurting me. The head wants to go on, but the body can’t take any more.”
Guardian columnist Paul Wilson summed it up best when he said about Ronaldo’s career:
“His career choices may not have been ideal, his lifestyle questionable and his fitness, particularly his knees, suspect throughout, but in spite of all that Ronaldo deserves to be remembered as a remarkable player. He could be unstoppable, some of the world’s best defences found him unplayable, and he had an endearingly goofy smile to go with it… One of the all-time greats, without question.”
Here are some helpful Ronaldo retrospectives from around the web:
Soccerlens.com (from whom I lifted the title – hat tip) nails Ronaldo’s story – ups and downs included.
Has career was filled with moments both tragic and magical, but my favorite may be the one he scored for Corinthians against hated rival Palmeiras shortly after returning to Brazil. He literally brought down the house. Enjoy @ 40 seconds.