Friday May 5 2017
Remembering Ronaldo

It was 15 years ago today that Ronaldo played his final game for Inter, a 4-2 defeat at Lazio.

It may have been blighted by injury, and it ended with the Brazilian in tears, but his time with the Nerazzurri saw him arguably playing the best football of his career.

After Ronaldo had scored 47 goals in 49 games for Barcelona, Massimo Moratti paid £19.5m to bring him to San Siro in the summer of 1997, breaking the world transfer record in the process.

The 21-year-old took to Italian football like a duck to water, intimidating even the toughest of defences with his strength, speed and dribbling skills.

Where later in his career Ronaldo became more of a penalty box poacher, with the Beneamata he was a true all-rounder, scoring free-kicks, going on mazy runs and providing assists.

His first season brought 25 goals in all competitions, helping Inter to win the UEFA Cup and finish second in Serie A.

Going into the 1998 World Cup, Ronaldo was seen as the best player in the world, but his sub-par performance in the final against France after a reputed fit remains a mystery to this day.

It didn’t appear to affect him at club level though, with the number 9 scoring 14 goals in 19 Serie A games in 1998-99.

The arrival of Christian Vieri for the following season - breaking the world transfer record again - gave the Nerazzurri real hope of challenging for the title, with two of the most prolific strikers in world football.

With a proven winner in Marcello Lippi on the bench, everything seemed set for Inter to finally win the Scudetto again.

However, far from bringing hope and promise, the 1999-2000 season proved to be the start of a long nightmare for Ronaldo.

On November 29, while playing against Lecce, the striker suffered a knee injury and was forced to go under the knife.

He made his comeback in the Coppa Italia final in April, but the reconstructed knee collapsed, and Ronaldo missed the whole of the next season.

The Brazilian finally managed a tentative return to the pitch for the 2001-02 season, and four goals in Weeks 31, 32 and 33 had the Beneamata leading Serie A on the final day.

However, a dramatic collapse against Lazio saw Hector Cuper’s side defeated 4-2, Ronaldo weeping on the bench as another Scudetto slipped away.

It was to be his final game for the Nerazzurri, as a stellar showing at the 2002 World Cup saw Real Madrid pay €46m for his signature that summer.

He would go on to score 104 goals in 177 games for Los Blancos, before winding down his career with Milan and Corinthians.

Great striker though he was in Madrid, many would say he was never the same player as at Inter, arguably the best period of his career.

Ronaldo at Inter:

Games: 99
Goals: 59
Honours: UEFA Cup [1998]

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