2002: Ronaldo’s Redemption

I thought I would recall one of my favourite moments in football, the final of the 2002 World Cup in Yokohama, where R9 exorcised all demons on football’s biggest stage in front of millions of people.

Now, I’m not going talk about the entire tournament, I think a lot of us remember sitting in a pub in the early hours of the morning, I was 7 at the time and remember the older customers in the pub begrudgingly drinking a pint so slowly and you can see it pained them to drink it.

England were knocked out in the earlier rounds (standard) and Brazil and Germany earned their rightful places in the final and Ronaldo was an absolute colossus in the tournament, with 6 goals in the tournament before the final, he was on course to be the golden boot winner at the World Cup and equal Pele’s record for goals scored in World Cup finals with 12. The previous tournament Ronaldo was blasted by Brazilian press and things didn’t get better any time sooner and suffered a horrendous knee injury that hampered him in the two seasons leading up to the World Cup in Japan.

With odds of 20-1 to being top goal scorer in the tournament, those who backed arguably the best number nine in recent years made a lot of money when he racked in the two decisive goals for his country in the biggest game of his career. With Germany lining up with a back three in the final, things were looking promising for the Germans as they went into half time drawing 0-0 with Brazil, although, Ronaldo could of probably had a hat-trick in the first half and worked like a labourer in the first half of the final, but big Olivier Kahn in goal for Germany had kept El Phenomeno at bay.

It wasn’t until the 67th minute when Ronaldo chased down Didi Hamann, yoinked the ball of him and slipped in Rivaldo who’s shot was palmed back into the path of a waiting Ronaldo who tucked it gently into the back of the net, lovely. Things got better in the 79th minute when Rivaldo dummied a Kleberson cross (yes, I forgot about Kleberson, too.) and Ronaldo stroked it into the bottom corner and sealed the deal for the Brazilians. With the substitution board going up in the 89th minute, it was the end of Ronaldo’s night and he was greeted with a roar of thousands upon thousands of cheering Brazil fans. Ronaldo was interviewed after and thanked his physio for everything he had done for him and without him, Ronaldo probably wouldn’t have had much of a career and more than likely would have had to retire at about twenty four years of age after his knee injury.


With an extra touch of class added to the end of the night, he sought out every German player and shook their hands and then consoled German manager at the time, Rudi Voller, what a lovely touch from probably one of my favourite players in history, El Phenomeno, ladies and gentleman.