Monday, February 22, 2010

Ronaldo and One More Go-Round?

Talking about the other Ronaldo here. And you know it's been a rough few years if you are a three-time Fifa player of the year ... and some other guy has taken over your name. That other guy being Cristiano Ronaldo.

We're talking about the first famous Ronaldo. Full name ... Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima. Of Brazil. Who played on the World Cup-winning teams of 1994 and 2002.

Ronaldo said today he will retire next year. But he wants to play in one more World Cup.

Will he get the chance?

Only if his former Brazil teammate, Dunga, calls him in. Which seems unlikely. Ronaldo hasn't played for the national team since 2006, so ...

Do you remember how good Ronaldo was? Really, really, really good. If you can't remember, check out this youtube video of highlights from the 1998 World Cup.

It's all there. The size. The speed. The sublime technical skills. Not many big men could hold a ball in traffic the way he did, nor run as fast. He had the whole package: athleticism as well as skill.

He was extremely good in that World Cup -- right up to the championship match, when he suffered some sort of attack -- a seizure, or perhaps a panic attack. But he wasn't very good, and Brazil was trounced 3-0. Years later, journalists were still writing about it. But note, too (if you stayed to the end of the video linked above), the violent collision he had with France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. That couldn't have helped.

Ronaldo has had a rough time the past few years. He has been hurt nearly all the time. He gained weight. Or maybe he gained weight, then got hurt.

He is back playing for a club in Brazil, but he would like one more shot at the Big Event. South Africa 2010.

Most teams in the world, they would bring him along, for old-time's sake, and also because he might still have some real use. But Brazil has no need of sentimentality ... and far too many players in their prime, as opposed to 33, chubby and hurt.

But the Original Ronaldo was just amazingly good. (I just remembered the TV commercial that showed him dribbling through, what, an airport? This isn't the version I was thinking of, but it gives you an idea.)

Put that on our wish list: Ronaldo with Brazil in South Africa. And maybe a few minutes in a first-round match. Can we make that happen?

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