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It's 20 years today since Ronaldo Nazario suffered a horrific knee injury which has gone down as one of football's most heartbreaking moments.
'El Fenomeno' saw his career ravaged by injuries and it was the one he suffered on back in the year 2000 that changed his career forever.
The Brazilian came off the bench for Inter Milan against Lazio in the Coppa Italia and attempted one of his trademark darting runs.
However, he attempted a stepover while dribbling with the ball and collapsed to the turf in pain.
12th April 2000
Ronaldo returns to the field after a long injury break. 6 minutes in, he tries a stepover and crack goes the knee again. He leaves the field in tears, the Olimpico remains quiet after that moment...
:movie_camera:: @90ordnasselA pic.twitter.com/lozEz9tqNx
- Uncle Sharma (@RSharmzz) April 12, 2020
It was Ronaldo's first game back after a five month injury lay-off due to a ruptured tendon in his knee.
This injury turned out to be even more severe, completely tearing his kneecap tendon.
Inter and Lazio players alike could be seen rushing to Ronaldo's aide as he shouted out in pain.
He was stretchered off with his head in his hands as the entire Stadio Olimpico rose to their feet to applaud the Ballon d'Or winner.
His former physiotherapist discussed the injury with FourFourTwo in 2018 and he stated it was 'the worst football injury' he's ever seen.
"If I showed you the photos I have from this case you wouldn't believe it," Nilton Petrone explained.
"Right after the surgery his knee was the size of a football ball. There were three or four tubes draining the blood, it was something unbelievable. We had a few moments at the hospital when he was crying because he wanted morphine to stop the intensity of pain.
"One day in the middle of the night he called me and asked: 'Tell me I am going to be able to play football again, please don't lie to me'. I was there, at the beginning of a rehabilitation when the whole world was saying that he wouldn't be able to. The science said it was unlikely and the doctors had doubts."
Ronaldo wouldn't return to action until September 2001 and although he recaptured his brilliant form, he had lost the explosiveness that announced him to the world.
One fan commented: "Even 20 years later, falling and screaming Ronaldo still breaks my heart..."
While a second wrote: "He's still the best player I have ever seen. I can only imagine what he could have been without injuries."
A third simply stated: "This is one of the saddest moments in football history."
It's a testament to the talents of 'R9' that he won so much in his career, yet many fans believe he never truly fulfilled his potential.
Featured Image Credit: ronaldogodmagic/YouTube
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