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When Ronaldo Nazario Was Known As Ronaldinho At The 1996 Olympic Games

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When Ronaldo Nazario Was Known As Ronaldinho At The 1996 Olympic Games

Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima might be best known as Ronaldo but when his international career started he was actually called Ronaldinho, just to confuse things.

'R9,' as he's now often called to distinguish him from Juventus forward Cristiano, is the greatest striker of his generation and would have been even better if not for some serious injuries.

However when he first sprung on the scene for his country Ronaldo wasn't even known by his name and instead wore the name 'Ronaldinho' on the back of his shirt.

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At just 17-years-old he was part of the World Cup winning squad at the 1994 tournament in the United States. He played no part in the games but had Ronaldo on the back of his shirt with Ronaldo Rodrigues de Jesus, previously himself going as Ronaldo, being named Ronaldao, or 'Big Ronaldo.'

Two years later the teenager, just months from being named the FIFA World Player of the Year for the first time, was an integral part of the Brazil squad at the Olympics.

Nazario de Lima wore the number 18 shirt, with then Middlesbrough forward Juninho Paulista wearing nine, and played with Ronaldinho, or little Ronaldo, on his back because defender Ronaldo Guiaro wore Ronaldo on his shirt.

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During that tournament the young Barcelona striker scored five times, including a winner against Nigeria in the Group Stage to take the South Americans through, and picked up a bronze medal with his countrymen.

Of course Ronaldo de Assis Moreira would end up going on to be known as Ronaldinho but even he started out his international career as Ronaldinho Gaucho in 1999, because of the region of Brazil he was from, much like the two Juninhos being Paulista and Pernambucano.

Ronaldo would of course go on to star in the 1998 World Cup until mystery struck before the final and Brazil were beaten by France. The striker came back to win the tournament in 2002 and was still scoring goals in the 2006 tournament, ending his international career with 62 goals in 98 appearances.

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At least in another world we wouldn't be having to call Ronaldo 'R9' in order not to get him confused with Cristiano Ronaldo, but then we'd need a different name for Ronaldinho anyway...

Topics: Ronaldinho, olympics, Football, Ronaldo, Brazil

Ryan Sidle
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