Ronaldo's Knees Stopped Him From Breaking Every Record In Football History
There is a reason why he was given the nickname "Fenômeno" by those who appreciated the beautiful game.
Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima introduced himself to the world stage with 115 goals in 134 games between 1994 and 1999, with 42 of those goals coming from a brief, but brilliant two-year spell with PSV Eindhoven.
A generation of football fans had never witnessed such a talent.
By the age of 23, he had scored over 200 goals for club and country and had broken the world transfer record twice.
To put into perspective how good Ronaldo was in his prime, World Cup hosts France made sure that Brazil's best player was not going to ruin their chances of glory ahead of the 1998 final.
French defenders Marcel Desailly and Lillian Thuram can be seen discussing how to try and stop the Inter Milan striker, who scored 34 goals in that season for the Italian giants.
You can hear players discussing how to stop those famous stepovers, as well as not getting too tight when marking him.
But just a matter of months after that World Cup final at the Stade de France, the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker suffered a catalogue of serious knee injuries in what many would consider a footballers prime years,
It would arguably stop him from fulfilling his true, record breaking potential.
Ronaldo would spend years on the sidelines recovering from knee troubles, most notably in the late 90's and early 00's,
One particular serious injury in the 1999/2000 season meant that his career subsided somewhat, but months later, many believed he had finally recovered ahead of a game against Lazio.
But a complete rupture to the knee tendon ruled him out for another 15 months. It was a bitter blow.
More Like ThisMore Like This
Ronaldo's former physio Nilton Petrone revealed the true extent of his injury in an interview with FourFourTwo last year.
"He ripped the knee-cap tendon completely." he said. "His knee-cap actually exploded and it ended up in the middle of his thigh. Right after the surgery his knee was the size of a football.
"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 recover."
From now on, Ronaldo had to play in constant pain but after a series of injuries, he would eventually complete a €46 million move to Real Madrid in 2002, a transfer that would reignite his career.
The Brazilian netted 83 goals in 127 games for Los Blancos, starring in the now-famous team of Galacticos.
But generally he lacked that explosive burst of pace we were so used to seeing at Inter and Barca.
Eight years after his retirement, there are still underlying questions surrounding the career of R9 - what if those injuries didn't happen in the peak of his career?
Would we be calling him the greatest of all time?
Well, a study from Play Ratings uncovered that, with fluctuating currency being considered, Ronaldo's big-money move from Barcelona to Inter Milan would be worth a staggering €433 million in the current market.
Elsewhere on the list, which is dominated by Serie A transfers, Diego Maradona to Napoli is equal to a massive €345 million, meanwhile Michel Platini joining Juventus back in 1983 would be worth €334 million.
One thing is for certain, we will probably never see the likes of "The Phenomenon" ever again.
What a player he was.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read