Brazil legend Ronaldo ends career

Brazilian legend Ronaldo has confirmed his retirement from football. The 34-year-old had a glittering career, helping Brazil win two World Cups and being named Fifa World Player of the Year in 1996, 1997 and 2002.

He had been expected to quit at the end of the season but the early elimination of his club, Corinthians, from the Copa Libertadores brought forward the date.

“I wanted to continue, but I can’t. I think of an action, but I can’t do it the way I want to. It’s time,” he said.

Ronaldo’s career took him to some of Europe’s top clubs, including Spanish rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as Italian neighbours AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Ronaldo celebrates a goal for Brazil

But it was on the world stage where he made the biggest impact, scoring a record total of 15 goals at three World Cups.

He also went to the 1994 tournament in the United States as a member of the Brazilian squad that went on to win the trophy, but the 17-year-old did not get on the pitch.

However, four years later he scored four goals to help Brazil reach the final against hosts France.

Mystery surrounded the match as Ronaldo’s name was left off the teamsheet when it was issued 72 minutes before kick-off, only for an amended version to appear in time for the start of the game amid rumours of panic attacks and a dispute within the Brazilian camp.

Whatever happened prior to the game, Ronaldo was below par and his performance was eclipsed by Zinedine Zidane, the only other footballer to have won the World Player of the Year title on three occasions.

The Frenchman scored twice as France won 3-0.

At the 2002 World Cup Ronaldo was at his imperious best, scoring in every game in Japan and South Korea, bar the 2-1 quarter-final victory over England.

He grabbed both of Brazil’s goals in the 2-0 win over Germany in the final to take his tally for the tournament to eight.

In 2006 he scored twice in a 4-1 victory over Japan to draw level with Germany’s Gerd Muller as the top scorer in World Cup finals history on 14, before breaking that record with a goal against Ghana.

He ended his international career having scored 62 goals in 97 appearances.

On the domestic front, Ronaldo first moved to Europe in the 1994-95 season, joining Dutch side PSV Eindhoven from Cruzeiro, scoring 30 league goals in his first season and 12 in 13 games during an injury-hit second campaign.

Ronaldo’s strike rate alerted former England manager Sir Bobby Robson, who signed the Brazilian when he took over as Barcelona coach in 1996 and the striker continued his impressive record at the Nou Camp, scoring 47 times in 49 appearances.

In 1996, at the age of 20, he became the youngest player to win Fifa’s World Player of the Year title and picked up the award again 12 months later.

By that time he had moved clubs once more, this time joining Inter for a then world-record fee of £19m. He hit 59 goals in 99 appearances during an injury-troubled four years with the Italian side.

He damaged his knee in 1999 and then again during his comeback in February 2000, which kept him out of the game for another two years.

His next move took him back to Spain, where he joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2002 for £20m. Injury stopped him making his debut until October, but he scored twice on his first appearance to endear himself to the fans and netted 21 more times that season to help win the La Liga title.

He also scored a hat-trick against Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

He also helped the Spanish side win another league title in 2006/07 but further injuries and a lack of fitness led to him being deemed surplus to requirements and he returned to Italy in 2007, joining AC Milan.

Another knee injury ended his stay at the San Siro in May 2008 and he returned to Brazil in 2009 to sign for Corinthians.

*Story from BBC Sports.

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