How different things could have been for Brazil with a fit Ronaldo. The superstar striker was famously struck down by a seizure the night before the 1998 World Cup final, with team doctor Lidio Toledo since stating the striker had actually been rushed to a local hospital after having convulsions while sleeping. ⠀

It’s a mark of the kind of player Ronaldo was that Brazil manager Mario Zagallo decided that, even after his ordeal, it would still be in his sides best interests for him to start the final. If ever there was a player to decide a game with a moment of individual brilliance, Ronaldo was definitely that man. The reigning World Player of the Year and youngest Ballon d’or winner in history was at the very peak of his powers in the summer of 98. In truth, despite his status as the best player on the planet, hindsight says it was most likely the wrong call as the final as a visibly shaken and weary Ronaldo struggled to get any foothold in a match that was instead dominated by another giant of the game, Zinedine Zidane. 


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Just four years after this heartbreak, Ronaldo would get his fair shot at the greatest prize in football. 

Despite having spent much of the two years prior to the 2002 World Cup in an agonising battle with his eventually career ending knee ligament injuries, Ronaldo still scored a remarkable eight goals in the tournament. His tally including two past Oliver Kahn in the final as he powered brazil to the win and finished the tournament with the golden boot. 


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The very fact that Ronaldo could simply run again, let alone came back from one of footballs worst injuries to win a golden boot after nearly a full two years out of the game, is nothing short of astonishing. 


Words by Andy Gallagher


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