A video tribute to 'O Fenomeno'.
“I want to stay but I can’t. I think of a move, but I can’t perform it as I want to. It’s time. My body aches. The head wants to continue, but the body can’t take much more.” – Ronaldo.
There is a certain sadness today that Ronaldo, full name: Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, has finally called a halt on his playing career since it came in murky circumstances following Corinthians' shock exit from the Copa Libertadores.
In retrospect his statistics are truly staggering and there has not been one voice of dissent arguing anything other than a 'true great' of the game has hung up his boots.
He was probably at the peak of his powers during spells at PSV and then a sensational campaign at Barcelona where he scored 34 goals in 37 appearances.
Knee injuries weakened his powers but his time at Inter and as a Galactico at Real Madrid, combined with 62 goals in 97 appearances for the Selecao and the all-time record for most goals in a World Cup are strong arguments to label Ronaldo one of the best strikers that ever lived.
But what were his best 10 goals? There are plenty to choose from, here is our list, as ever, in chronological order.
1. Ronaldo v Boca Juniors, 1994. Within months of breaking into the Cruzeiro side, Ronaldo was whisked away to Europe with PSV's scouts proving they had spotted the next Brazilian superstar before anyone else. This goal was classic Ronaldo, three defenders couldn't get near him and was also an announcement to South America as it came in the Copa Libertadores.
2. Ronaldo v Vitesse Arnhem, 1995. After sitting on the bench for the duration of the 1994 World Cup, Ronaldo headed to PSV to replace Romario. The Brazilian striker won the Dutch Cup and was the Eredivisie's top scorer in 1995. This goal against Vitesse, a cheeky back heel, is indicative of just what a good finisher he was.
3. Ronaldo v Compostela, 1996. The goal that everyone remembers and the pace and power are simply breathtaking. After winning the ball in his own half Ronaldo holds off a defender who tugs his shirt and accelerates, when the defenders get back, some stunning control and an unnerving finish complete one of the all time great goals.
4. Ronaldo v Valencia, 1997. Years later Bobby Robson would say of Ronaldo's one season at Barcelona where he scored 34 goals in 37 games: "Ronaldo, for the short time we had him at Barcelona, was phenomenal. There were no girls for Ronaldo then. No disco, no fashion, no earrings, no fancy cars. He had the need to be a great player - and so he listened to Jose [Mourinho]." This great goal against Valencia was run-of-the-mill stuff during an incredible season at the Camp Nou.
5. Ronaldo v Bolivia, 1997. The tournament where Ronaldo would come of age for the Brazilian national team as they won the Copa America on home soil. He was voted the best player in the tournament and scored this crucial goal to put Brazil 2-1 up against Bolivia in the final - a rasping drive that flew into the top corner.
6. Ronaldo v Lazio, 1998. Inter swept aside fellow Italians Lazio in the first ever single UEFA Cup final and it was Ronaldo that provided the cherry on the cake, scoring the third with 20 minutes remaining. As he did throughout his career, the cheeky Brazilian striker stuck Luca Marchegiani on his bum before even coming close to committing a finish.
7. Ronaldo v Germany, 2002. Having scored 15 goals in World Cup finals matches, Ronaldo is one of the all-time great World Cup stars but the 2002 final is the game he will be most remembered for. It capped a stunning comeback for a player who endured shocking knee injuries in the previous seasons and also rebounded from the shady goings on and subsequent poor performance in the 1998 final. The first was a poachers finish with the second a quality move involving Rivaldo.
8. Ronaldo v UNICEF All Stars, 2003. Due to the knee injuries and quality of player Ronaldo shared the pitch with at Real Madrid, he began to be a real team player in the latter stages of his career. This goal came in a match between Figo All Stars against UNICEF All Stars and Ronaldo and Raul produced some incredible link up play.
9. Ronaldo v Manchester United, 2003. The third goal of the three against Manchester United is undoubtedly the best but the hat-trick was one of the true great performances in the history of European football. Real Madrid were 3-1 up from the first leg, and Ronaldo's virtuoso performance meant they would not be beaten on aggregate where they emerged 6-5 winners.
10. Ronaldo v Santos, April 2009. In later years, Ronaldo played from memory and as the weight added up he became a rather large shadow of his former self. He did though have a few fine moments at Corinthians. Winning the Paulista championship was one and this terrific edge-of-the-area chip against Santos is a fitting way to end this list.