Before you begin to read this article, let me warn you that I am not your regular football fan. I will admit that I have fallen out of love with the club system of European Football.
Frankly speaking, it has become a circus of too many frills and a few thrills here and there. But, I still love football at the international level and wait eagerly for tournaments like the World Cup and Euro Cup. And that perhaps is the reason why I adore Ronaldo so much.
I still remember as a kid in 1998 when I was still discovering new interests and obsessions, Tennis and Cricket already had me, and there was huge amount of buzz around the World Cup and all things related to it.
From Ricky Martin to Adidas, everything and everyone was a star. But the buzz around Ronaldo was unprecedented. Everyone knew this was going to be his cup and his performances until the final were great.
I had found my Sachin Tendulkar of football. Though the final was a totally different experience altogether for Ronaldo and his fans, it is a mystery that will never be solved. Nevertheless, he learned a lot from that experience and continued to grow in stature as a player as well as a star.
Between the 1998 and 2002 World Cups he suffered from so many injuries that people had written him off. But he returned to the world stage in 2002 Cup and silenced his critics and won the trophy that had eluded him.
I, along with all his fans, was overjoyed. After that he achieved a lot of success in Spain as one of the original Galẚcticos at Real Madrid. He returned for the 2006 World Cup and scored three goals to become the highest scorer in the history of the tournament.
But, this was not a satisfying campaign for him, and it pained me to see him jeered in the early matches for his weight. Though, he again silenced his critics by scoring in two consecutive matches.
Personally, I feel that Ronaldinho was more responsible for that campaign as, at that time, he was the center of the Brazilian team, and his poor performance reflected on the side. It was the last time I, along with all his fans saw Ronaldo at the grandest stage of them all.
That Ronaldo, named “Il Fenomeno” by his fans in Italy, is a legend in every sense of the word, is beyond doubt. The simple fact that even after achieving as much as he has, which is by the way more than most can even think of, people were thinking of 'what ifs' in itself is a testament of his greatness.
To say that he had everything a striker should have, is an understatement. Such speed of the ball, such an uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time and such an ability to make even great keepers look ordinary with his moves can only be possessed by a true legend.
Apart from his skills, what sets him apart from others was his ability to come back after seemingly career-ending injuries and prove the naysayers wrong. He is an example of the triumph of ability over fate and determination over adversity. People who knew him and who have played with him vouch for him and his love for the game.
Though his personal life choices did affect his career and his game, I, to this day have yet to find the same joy I felt when I watched this great player. From what little I have seen of the game, and I have seen quite a bit since 1998, I can say I have not seen a better player, and I admire him despite all his faults. I wish him a great life and great success in whatever he chooses to do next. Amen.