InterLegend: Ronaldo ‘IL Fenomeno”
Some have called him the best player to have ever played on a football pitch. Others called him a Phenomenon, the likes of which the world will never ever see again. No matter what you think of him, Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima will always be regarded by every football fan as one of the greatest ever players in the sport’s history. Having played for our beloved Inter, Ronaldo has also cemented himself as a legend at the club that very few forwards will be able to be compared to, let alone best.
Ronaldo at Inter: A story fit for a Greek tragedy
Ronaldo joined Inter Milan in the summer of 1997 after a rough and unpleasant sole season at Barcelona. Massimo Moratti paid a then record fee of £19 million to bring the striker to the Black and Blue fortress.
During his time at Inter, Ronaldo managed to help the team win the UEFA Cup. It would be the only trophy he would achieve with the Nerazzurri. He also finished as the Serie A’s second top league scorer after only his first season with the club. In 1997, he would win the FIFA World Player of the Year for the second time as well as collect the Ballon d’Or that same year.
Following the 1998 World Cup, Ronaldo continued to display great performances on the pitch for Inter and made it clear to the world that he was in a different league than all other players. However, this wonderful moment for Ronaldo at Inter would not last for long.
On the 21st of November, 1999, Ronaldo, in a Serie A game against Lecce, fell to the ground while touching his knee in agony. Medical examinations after the match would confirm the dreadful news. Ronaldo suffered a ruptured tendon to his knee and surgery would be the only solution. The player, and Inter, would have to wait at least six months later until the Brazilian would return to action. Alas, it would not be a happy return to action. Ronaldo managed to play only seven minutes against Lazio in the first leg of the Coppa Italia final before injuring his knee for a second time and was out for a much longer time than expected.
He would miss the entire 2000-2001 season and most of the 2001-2002 as well. He would play a total of only 99 games, scoring just 59 goals. His long-awaited and much talked about attacking partnership with Christian Vieri would last for only a handful of games, much to the disappointment of this writer and surely the entire Inter fan base.
Perhaps more controversial than his injury problem was the manner in which he left the club. Having had the club pay his wages and contribute to his medical fees thorough out his multiple injuries, many fans felt Ronaldo leaving soon after he was recovered as the ultimate betrayal towards the club, fans, and President Moratti, who regarded Ronaldo as his own son. However, one must not forget the many joys and flare Ronaldo has given us fans to enjoy for decades to come.
Forever an Inter Legend:
It is a fact that my unending love for Inter started with me catching a glimpse of “IL Fenomeno” in the Black & Blue jersey on TV some night in the late 90’s. I remember being blown away by the energy and power he exuded on the field, making defenders go in circles not knowing what to do with this gifted Brazilian. He had technique and mastery of the ball unlike any other attacker I had seen at the time. It is no exaggeration to say that I enjoyed every match he has played in, whether it was for Inter, Real Madrid or the Brazilian national team for that matter. It truly is a shame that his numerous injuries have not allowed him to excel at Inter like we all would have liked.
Nevertheless, Ronaldo will forever be remembered as “The Phenomenon” and a Legend at Internazionale FC. And for good reason too.
- UEFA Cup in 1998
- Two FIFA World Cups in 1994 and 2002
- Two Copa América cups in 1997 and 1999
- One FIFA Confederations Cup in 1997