One of the greatest players the world has ever seen, Ronaldo Fenômeno (the original Ronaldo), will be returning to the soccer field this year. Ronaldo had an incredibly victorious 18-year career. In Brazil’s National Team, he won the World Cup twice (1994 and 2002), along with reaching the Finals in 1998. In Europe, he once formed the starting lineup of great teams, such as PSV Eindhoven, FC Barcelona, Internazionale, Real Madrid and A.C. Milan. One interesting side note is that he played on both teams of two different sets of rivalries: one in Spain and the other in Italy. In addition, he won numerous individual trophies, including FIFA’s World Best Player in 1996, 1997 and 2002 and the Ballon D’or in 1997 and 2002.
Towards the end of his time at Real Madrid (around the year 2006), Ronaldo began to gain a lot weight, deeply affecting his game. Known for his speed and rapid ability to move past defenders, Ronaldo’s extra weight caused him to slowly lose his starting position in Real Madrid, until he finally left the club during the 2006/2007 season. He then joined AC Milan where he discovered that he had hypothyroidism, what doctors believed was causing his weight gain. Despite numerous diets, exercise plans and recovery periods, Ronaldo never fully lost all of his extra weight. Plus, he also suffered many injuries in the last years of his career. As a result, his game was never the same. However, he remained an excellent player with game-changing ability, as seen when he won 2 titles for Corinthians in 2009 before finally retiring in 2011.
After his retirement, Ronaldo remained in the world of soccer, but now as an investor. He started the company 9ine, which is responsible for the rights of many famous players, including Neymar. In 2012, he purchased the team Fort Lauderdale Strikers, currently a member of the North American Soccer League. In 2014, he was a commentator for Globo (Brazil’s largest TV Network) during all of Brazil’s games in the World Cup.
This year, Ronaldo has announced that he is returning to the pitch with his team, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. As a 38-year old, Ronaldo has stated that soccer in the US is evolving at rapid speeds, and that he sees this as a great opportunity for the team and for himself. He’s also said to Brazilian networks that he wants to get back to training, and hopefully help his team reach the NASL’s final. When asked why he decided to be the team’s President and not Manager, he told reporters that he believes managing 30 players who think differently is too hard. Instead, he can show them how he won throughout his career by being involved as the team’s owner.
Only time will tell whether Ronaldo actually makes it onto the pitch. Given his numerous problems with his weight and past injuries, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him only play a few minutes in a match, mainly as a publicity stunt to attract attention to his team and to the NASL. Not that that’s a bad thing however, as the increased attention would certainly lead to the NASL’s growth.