The Incredible Story Of How Barcelona Ended Up Signing Ronaldo Luís Nazário De Lima

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima might have only spent one season at Barcelona, but the Spanish club made a lot of effort to bring him to the Camp Nou in the first place.

The 42-year-old Brazilian icon spent the 1996-97 season at the club and made 49 appearances across all competitions, scoring an incredible 47 times and registering seven assists (H/T to Transfermarkt for the stats).

The legendary striker was able to secure the Copa del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and Supercopa de España before he left for Inter Milan, but ex-Barça president Joan Gaspart has revealed what it took to sign him in the first place.

Speaking to the YouTube channel Idolos, the 74-year-old Spanish businessman said that he flew to Miami, dressed up as a waiter and snuck into Brazil's training camp to speak with the two-time Copa América and World Cup winner.

"The signing of Ronaldo was out of a film," he recalled (via the Daily Mirror).

"There was a problem because PSV backed out of selling him to us and included a clause in his contract that cancelled the transfer if the player didn't sign by a certain date.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"The days went by and Ronaldo's contract didn't arrive, so Josep Lluís Núñez [the president before Gaspart] sent me to Miami, where the Brazilian national team were based, to make him sign it.

"I arrived and wasn't able to see Ronaldo very easily. There were some bouncers at his door in the hotel and they had orders not to let anyone through.

"I couldn't beat the two-metre-tall bouncers up because they'd have sent [me] flying with a single punch, but something occurred to me.

"I managed to get a hotel waiter to lend me his bow tie and jacket and he gave me a tray with a Coca-Cola on it.

"I went up to the floor the team were on in the lift and there were two bouncers there. I told them I had a drink for Ronaldo and I went in.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"I introduced myself to Ronaldo and he called his agent and told them that he'd been caught.

"I told him that we'd complain if he didn't sign and, in the end, an agreement was sped up.

"We hugged on the bed in his hotel room and finalised everything."


Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Ronaldo, who was voted the best striker of all time in one of our readers' polls, came out last week to question the double standards surrounding Barcelona captain Lionel Messi after the club's defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals.

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Featured Image Credit: PA

Adnan Riaz

Adnan Riaz is a journalist for SPORTbible. He studied for a B.A. in History at the University of York and followed it up with an M.A. in Multimedia Journalism at MMU. Before he started writing about sports, he spent over four years in the gaming press. He has worked for several publications, including Hardcore Gamer, LADbible and the Manchester Evening News. Follow him on Twitter to find out what he is working on next. Got a story tip for Adnan? Email him: [email protected]

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