This section by Chris Straka

Edited and updated in 2013 by Halsey Friedel

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, more commonly known simply as “Ronaldo,” is the all time leading World Cup goal scorer.[1] 


Ronaldo started his illustrious career with Cruziero in Brazil where at the age of 16 he helped lead his team to becoming the Brazilian Cup Champion for the first time in their history. [2]  But his true dominance did not come to light until he moved to Europe in 1994, where he played for PSV in the Netherlands (1994-1995), Barcelona (1996), Inter Milan (1997), Real Madrid (1998-2007), and AC Milan (2008).  His most successful years were those with PSV, Barcelona, Inter and the early years with Real, where unlike many of his countrymen before him, he dominated with power and speed, as opposed to only depending on phenomenal technique. He was described as “a rhino — but with talent” by Ángel Cappa, a former opposing manager in Spain. [3] As seen in the video above, he would run straight at and through defenses and there was almost no way to stop him. He truly may have been able to become the best, however he was plagued by injuries.

For a player who largely depended on power and speed, knee injuries can serve as a huge blow, and can act as a limiter on one’s potential, as was the case with Ronaldo. During both his 1999 and 2000 seasons with Real Madrid, he suffered significant knee injuries, the second of which needed 20 months of recovery. [4] However, he was able to battle back and play at a fairly high level, but he was never the same. This may have added to the belief that he had a poor work ethic, or was losing match fitness, but it all ultimately led to a decline in his play and later the nickname “Fat Ronaldo.” [3] Despite, this decline in the later stages, he still amassed an astonishing career which ended in 2011. He was able to participate in two World Championship Brazilian teams in 1994 and 2002, and was named FIFA player of the year three times (an honor shared only by Zinedine Zidane).[5] To see more statistics about Ronaldo’s career, click here.

In recent years, unfortunately, Ronaldo has not aged gracefully.  He still manages to make headlines, but in a very different way than with his golden boots…

One night in the spring of 2008, while in Rio de Janeiro recovering from knee surgery, Ronaldo picked up three prostitutes and took them to a hotel room.  Upon booking the room he discovered that the three were, in fact, men so he asked the transvestites to leave.  One of them stole his car documents and then demanded $30,000.  Since paying for sex is not illegal in Brazil, Ronaldo went to the police to recover his stolen documents.  The man who stole Ronaldo’s documents countered by accusing Ronaldo of drug use and violence, and the incident quickly became a worldwide scandal.[6] During the time of the prostitute scandal Ronaldo was engaged to Brazilian model Maria Beatriz Antony.

To learn more about Ronaldo’s personal life, click here.

Similarly, Tiger Woods has recently experienced some backlash from his sexual exploits, as he has lost his friends, his sponsors, many of his fans, and his marriage.  The American public has, almost unanimously, spoken out in shock and horror at Tiger’s philandering.  In the aftermath of Ronaldo’s transvestite scandal, on the other hand, the Rio de Janeiro Police Chief said, “He admitted to everything, he wanted to have fun. But he committed no crime at all. It was immoral at best.”[7] This difference in public reaction is striking, and may be due to differences in culture between America and Brazil, differences in the public demeanor of the two athletes, differences in the expectations of the fans of golf and football, or some amalgamation of all these factors.

Back to Main Page: Brazil!

[1] World Cup Corner

[2] “Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima.” The Biography Channel website, 2013.

[3] “Ronaldo was simply a phenom.” Sports Illustrated, February 18, 2011.

[4] “Brazilian striker Ronaldo’s career lies in ruins after knee injury.” Mirror Football, February 15, 2008.

[5] “Brazil Crowned World Champions,” BBC Sport, June 30, 2002.

[6] “Ronaldo in transvestite scandal,” BBC, April 29, 2008.

[7] “Ronaldo threatened transvestite prostitutes in Rio motel room,”, April 29, 2008.

One thought on “Ronaldo

  1. Bianca D'Souza

    I have heard a lot about Ronaldo as a player, but given my limited soccer knowledge, I actually had not heard about any of the scandals or his knee injury. What is interesting to me is this idea of targeting Ronaldo for money, as it is clear that given his success he has money, and how that influences scandals and leads to soccer players and athletes in general being a target for scandals. It leads me to wonder how much of these scandals are bad decisions on the part of the athletes and what part of it is their vulnerability given their success.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *