Friday, December 7, 2007

Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima

Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima (born September 22, 1976), simply known as Ronaldo, is a Brazilian professional footballer who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to have ever played the game. He plays as a striker for Brazil and the Italian club A.C. Milan. He has been nicknamed "The Phenomenon" (Portuguese: O Fenômeno, Spanish: El Fenómeno). He was named by Pelé as one of the 125 greatest footballers in March 2004.

Ronaldo has enjoyed success at the international level, winning the 1994 and 2002 FIFA World Cups with Brazil. Ronaldo has won three FIFA World Player of the Year awards (1996, 1997, 2002). Ronaldo and former Real Madrid teammate Zinedine Zidane are the only two men to have won the award three times.

Personal life

Ronaldo was born in Bento Ribeiro, a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Like many of his friends, he began to play football in the streets of his neighborhood.

In April 1999, Ronaldo married Milene Domingues. The marriage lasted four years and ended in divorce. The couple had a son, Ronald (born 2000). In 2005, he got engaged to Brazilian model and MTV VJ Daniela Cicarelli, who became pregnant but suffered a miscarriage; their relationship lasted 3 months after their engagement. He is currently dating Brazilian supermodel Raica Oliveira. Writer Andrew Downie asserted a correlation between Ronaldo's personal life and performance on the pitch, noting that his most prolific periods of goalscoring have coincided with the times when he was happily married.[2]

In 2005, Ronaldo became co-owner of A1 Team Brazil, alongside Brazilian motorsports legend Emerson Fittipaldi. The team participates in the newly launched A1 Grand Prix series, with Nelson Piquet, Jr., Tony Kanaan and João Paulo Oliveira as drivers.

Football career

Ronaldo's football abilities were first recognised when he was 14. He was recommended to the Brazil youth team by World Cup winner Jairzinho, who also arranged for his own former club, Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, to sign him when he was old enough for a professional contract.[citation needed]

Ronaldo scored 12 goals in 14 games in the Brazilian National Championship, and in the Minas Gerais State Championship he scored all three goals in Cruzeiro's 3-1 victory against arch-rival Atlético Mineiro. After being scouted by Piet de Visser, he was soon transferred for US$6 million to PSV Eindhoven, where he scored 42 goals in 46 league games and reached a total of 55 goals in 57 official appearances. Later he attracted the attention of Spain's FC Barcelona. He played for Barça in the 1996-97 season, scoring 34 goals in 37 appearances (47 in 49, including appearances in the Copa del Rey and European Cup Winners Cup), and then transferred to Inter Milan the following year.

A year after the 1998 FIFA World Cup, he severely injured his right knee and was out of the game for several months. During his first comeback in 2000, he played only seven minutes during a league game against Lazio before injuring his knee for a second time.

After two operations and 20 months of rehabilitation, Ronaldo came back for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, helping Brazil win their fifth World Cup title. Later in 2002 he won the World Player of the Year award for the third time, and transferred from Inter to Real Madrid for approximately €39,000,000, after frequent disputes with Inter coach Héctor Cúper.[citation needed] His transfer to Madrid was the subject of a media frenzy not just laced with the usual hype because of his reputation, but more so because he was now the third successive Galactico (or superstar) signed in as many years by the Spanish giants as part of their policy of signing the world's biggest superstar football players in order to maintain their levels of success whilst broadening their reaches of fame.[citation needed]

Ronaldo was such a well-known signing that sales of his shirt on the day of his signing alone broke all records the world over.[citation needed] Proof of his fame came with the fact that even though Ronaldo was sidelined through injury until October 2002, fans continued to chant his name in the stands. Ronaldo scored twice in his debut for Real Madrid. That same reception was observed on the night of the final game of the season against Athletic Bilbao, where Ronaldo scored again to seal his first season with 23 league goals (not including the goals in the UEFA Champions League that included a hat-trick away at Manchester United - which the Manchester United fans gave him a standing ovation for, as he was substituted, which showed great respect for Ronaldo's ability) and the La Liga Championship title for 2003, which Ronaldo had previously failed to win whilst at FC Barcelona.

Recently, he has been linked once again with Italian side AC Milan for a transfer of about $7.8 million.

On Thursday, January 25 of 2007, Ronaldo flew from Madrid to Milan to watch AC Milan in a cup tie against AS Roma. Statements on the clubs website said that Ronaldo was in Milan for a medical, and that a meeting had been arranged for Monday with Real Madrid officials to discuss and finalize his transfer to Milan.

On Friday, January 26 2007, Ronaldo successfully completed his medical tests at the Milanello training complex under the supervision of club doctors.

International career

Ronaldo made his international debut for Brazil in 1994, in a friendly match in Recife against Argentina. He went to the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA as a 17-year-old but did not play. He was known then as Ronaldinho, since Ronaldo Guiaro, his older team-mate on the 1996 Olympic Games, was called Ronaldo. Another Brazilian player, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, who is widely known as Ronaldinho, was then called Ronaldinho Gaúcho'

Voted the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1996 and 1997, he scored four goals and made three assists[4] during the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The night before the final, he suffered a convulsive fit. He was initially removed from the starting lineup 72 minutes before the match but he requested to play and was later reinstated by coach Mario Zagallo. Ronaldo did not perform well and he was injured in a collision with French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. Brazil lost the final to hosts France 3-0.[5] Adrian Williams, professor of clinical neurology at Birmingham University, said that Ronaldo should not have played, saying that he would have been feeling the after effects of the seizure and that " there is no way that he would have been able to perform to the best of his ability within 24 hours of his first fit -- if it was his first fit."[6]

Ronaldo won the Golden Shoe as the top scorer in the 2002 FIFA World Cup with eight goals. He scored against every team he came up against except England in the quarter finals and scored two in the final against Germany, helping Brazil win their fifth World Cup title. He also equaled Pelé's Brazilian record of 12 World Cup goals, adding to the four he scored in the 1998 tournament.

On June 2, 2004, Ronaldo scored an unusual hat-trick for Brazil against arch-rivals Argentina in a CONMEBOL qualifier for the 2006 World Cup, scoring all three of Brazil's goals from the penalty spot.

Although Brazil won their first two group games against Croatia and Australia, respectively, Ronaldo was repeatedly jeered for being overweight and slow (Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva questioned the national coach "Ronaldo is fat or isn't he?"). Nonetheless, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira kept him in the starting lineup in face of calls to have Ronaldo replaced. With his two goals against Japan in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he became the 20th player ever to score in three different FIFA World Cups. Ronaldo scored in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. On June 27, 2006, he broke the all-time World Cup Finals scoring record of 14, held by Gerd Müller after scoring his 15th World Cup goal against Ghana in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Round of 16. He also equaled a much less talked about mark: with his third goal of the 2006 World Cup, Ronaldo became only the second player ever (Jürgen Klinsmann being the other) to score at least three goals in each of three World Cups. However, Brazil was eliminated by France 1-0 in the quarter-finals. During the game, he was booked for a handball when he and his teammates tried to deflect Zinedine Zidane's free kick. Though Ronaldo was criticized for his performance due to level of fitness and a few extra pounds, much of the blame went towards teammate Ronaldinho, who was partying after Brazil's defeat.