Club Focus – Real Madrid – Kaka hails former Brazil team-mate Ronaldo

Real Madrid playmaker Kaka has thanked compatriot Ronaldo Nazario da Lima “for everything he did” as the former three-time World Player of the Year called time on his playing career.

The Corinthians striker, aged 34, said his body was now struggling as a result of an injury ridden 18-year career. ‘Ronaldo’, as the Brazilian is known, has a glittering footballing CV. The Rio de Janeiro-born forward made his name at Cruzeiro as a teenager in 1993 before enjoying two years at PSV, where he netted 42 times in 46 games – earning him attention from Spanish giants Barcelona in the process.

Ronaldo soon moved to Catalonia in 1996, but he only spent one season at the Nou Camp as Inter Milan smashed the then world transfer fee record by securing the two-time World Cup winning player’s services for £19 million.

However, Ronaldo only made 68 appearances for the club in a five-year period blighted by a succession of serious knee injuries. But a successful 2002 World Cup where he won the Golden Boot and scored a brace in the final against Germany, attracted interest from Florentino Perez’ ‘Galactico’ obsessed Real Madrid.

In his five years in the Spanish capital, Los Blancos only won two notable trophies, the 2003 and 2007 Primera Division titles – in what was a club career bereft of winner’s medals, but full of individual acclaim.

Question marks over Ronaldo’s fitness and off the pitch troubles dominated much of the player’s latter half to his career, though the famous Brazil number nine’s goalscoring exploits cannot be questioned. He scored 352 strikes in 515 club appearances, as well as notching 62 international goals.

Ronaldo departs the game with a goalscoring legacy, but a legacy of which fails to place him right at the top of the upper echelons of the game. Problems on and off the field have tainted the Brazilian’s reputation, as the striker bred from the Rio de Janeiro slums struggled to maintain a level head with the financial rewards that came with his success.

But current Real Madrid star Kaka praised the former Los Blancos striker’s contribution to football and to the world of sport. He said: “Ronaldo, thank you for everything you did. Thank you for the sport of football, for Brazil, and for the army of many thousands of fans.”

Ronaldo’s Barcelona connection never really made the Brazilian an instant favourite at the Santiago Bernabeu, although his contribution in terms of goals could not be ignored. In October 2002, he slammed home his first goal for the club with his first touch in a thrashing of Alaves.

Ronaldo went on to score 104 times in all competitions for the Whites and his impact was certainly held in high regard by the club’s Directer General Jorge Valdano, who remarked: “When Ronaldo begins his run it is like a herd of buffaloes deciding to stampede.”

It is now rumoured the all-time top World Cup goalscorer with 15 strikes wants to stay in football in some capacity, a decision potentially giving football followers across the globe a little longer to take in an eventful career.

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