Ronaldo Retires: Football Legend Hangs Up His Boots At 34

Steve WatersContributor IIFebruary 14, 2011

At 34 years old, arguably the greatest striker who ever played the game has finally hung up his boots.

Ronaldo was originally going to retire at the end of the 2011 season however it had been a very bad start to the New Year for him and the team he captained Corinthians who went out of the Copa Liberatadores after losing 2-0 to Colombia's Deportes Tolima.

Angry Corinthians fans targeted Ronaldo and team mate Roberto Carlos at a recent training session and covered a wall in Graffiti labelling Ronaldo “Shameless Fatty.”

"Four years ago in Milan I found out that I was suffering from a problem that is called hypothyroidism, a complaint which slows your metabolism, and that to control it I would have to take medication which is considered illegal in football," he said. 

"A lot of people should feel bad about their comments on my weight: I just wanted to explain that, now that I have reached the end." Stated Ronaldo as he emotionally announced his retirement. 

It wasn’t all bad at Corinthians for Ronaldo though, he was receiving 80 percent of the teams sponsorship money and also before this season was performing very well. In 2009 he received the award for the best Brazilian player of the year and a lot of his countrymen where unsuccessfully calling for him to make a return to the national squad for the 2010 World Cup.

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima turned professional 18 years ago as a 17 year old for Brazilian club Cruzeiro, he scored 12 goals in just 14 appearances before being signed by Dutch side PSV Eindhoven where he scored 42 league goals in just 46 appearances.

In 1996 he was signed to Barcelona by coach Bobby Robson, who described him as the fastest player he had ever seen. Ronaldo played just one season for Barca scoring an incredible 47 goals in 49 games and at the age of 19 became the youngest ever FIFA world player of the year a year. He also became the first ever player to defend this honour a year later whilst playing in Italy for Inter Milan where he earned the nickname El Fenomeno (The Phenomenon).

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However, Ronaldo will not only be remembered for his unbelievable performances and achievements at such a young age but also for his amazing ability to come back from not one but two career threatening knee injuries to star in and help Brazil win the 2002 world cup where he was one third of the now legendary "three Rs" strike force playing alongside Ronaldinho and Rivaldo.  Ronaldo finished the tournaments top scorer, scoring both of the goals in Brazils final victory over Germany putting to rest the demons from four years previous when a suspicious fit in the morning of the final meant Ronaldo was not even a shadow of himself and Brazil lost 3-0 to France.  

His performance in the 2002 World Cup was so good that he was awarded FIFA world player of the year for the third time. 

After the World Cup Ronaldo joined FC Barcelona’s Spanish rivals Real Madrid on a team known at the time as the Galactacos (Superstars) the team featured Louis Figo, Raul, Roberto Carlos, Casillas and Zinedine Zidane who would later describe Ronaldo as the greatest player he had ever played alongside.

In Ronaldos first season with Madrid he was as phenomenal as ever and Madrid won La Liga however that was as good as it got for that Madrid team. Ronaldo was rumoured to have a night club in his house and was training less and less, he started gaining weight yet despite this he was still scoring goals in abundance. 

Even with his clear weight gain Ronaldo played in what was a disappointing 2006 world cup for Brazil, it was a historical tournament for R9 though as his three goals made him the highest goal scorer in World Cup finals history with a total of 15.

He left Real Madrid in 2007 to play once again in Italy, this time with former club Inter's rivals AC Milan, Ronaldo was once again focused, working hard and lost a lot of weight. Unfortunately his Milan career only lasted 20 games due to another knee injury, which caused another long set back before finally returning to Brazil to play for Corinthians.

Ronaldo has retired from the game with over 40 individual honours including player of the decade (2000-2010), numerous golden boot and MVP awards.

Today is a sad day for football and the end of an era. Unlike many of today's "stars", Ronaldo always played the game with a smile on his face and had his best performances in the biggest matches.

The sport world will miss you, Ronaldo; thanks for the incredible memories and hours upon hours of highlight reels you left behind.   


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