Ronaldo names the four players – three of them Italian – who should’ve won the Ballon d’Or, goes back over the Inter showdowns with Juventus and refereeing ‘mistakes.’
Il Fenomeno spoke to Del Piero in an Instagram live chat about his Serie A career and the infamous Mark Iuliano challenge in that match against Juventus in April 1998.
“I can understand mistakes and referee can get it wrong too,” said Ronaldo of the denied penalty and later eruption of the Calciopoli scandal in 2006.
“I’ve no problem with the players, you all had nothing to do with the story of Luciano Moggi, Roberto Bettega and the rest… We had some wonderful games against each other and you really didn’t need all the stuff going on behind the scenes.”
Inter and Juve collided for the Scudetto again in 2002, culminating in Ronaldo crying on the bench after a final day 4-2 defeat to Lazio on May 5.
“I had already realised thanks to the incident in the Atalanta game that my future would have to be separate from Hector Cuper, but I had to respect him and finish the season.
“I think we lost it on May 5, there was no other interference, because we were top of the table going into the final weekend. Lazio had nothing to play for…
“In the weeks leading up to that game, there were too many strange things going on like the rumours Alessandro Nesta was coming to Inter and we went in too relaxed, which was a huge mistake, because Lazio had players who could hurt us at any moment. We lost it because of our attitude.
“That is a wound that remains fresh, especially as every May 5 people tag me in on Instagram posts with images of me crying. They never forget the anniversary.
“Having said that, I appreciate the defeats as well as the victories, because in football the important thing is to be there and take responsibility.”
Ronaldo’s career had plenty of downs as well as ups, none more so than his double knee injury.
“I had played for four years in a row without any physical problems, but I still say we trained differently from 2000 compared to what we did before. I had these long runs trying to keep up with the tempo set by Marcos Cafu or Roberto Carlos, and that was just not necessary. It was traumatic.
“I don’t want to blame anyone, but the only explanation I can give is that I didn’t train well before the year 2000. I got hurt again after that, so maybe it’s a controversial theory. I then got injured again, same injury but the other leg, when playing for Milan.
“I learned so much from that injury and certainly became a better man because of it, understanding just how much I loved football. I was a little afraid after the first injury, as people said it was the end, that nobody had ever sustained an injury like that in football, but I felt that I’d get back out there.”
Ronaldo cherishes his time in Italy and believes Calcio figures didn’t get the rewards they deserved.
“I’d say there are four players who didn’t win the Ballon d’Or, but should’ve done: Alessandro Del Piero, Paolo Maldini, Francesco Totti and Raul. I’d also add Roberto Carlos, who was twice in second place behind me.”