Ronaldo discusses his injury, row with Hector Cuper, feeling ‘betrayed’ when he joined Milan and why ‘it’s time Inter end the Juventus dictatorship’ in Serie A.
The Brazilian spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s magazine Sportweek about his time at Inter, the devastating injuries and the abrupt end after losing the Scudetto on that infamous May 5, 2002.
“I felt pain and fear when my knee went at the Stadio Olimpico. Would I return, and in what condition? However, once that initial fear had passed, I found an inner strength that I didn’t even know I had. I was a different man, but with the same love for football. That passion was my best coach, medic, physio and teammate.”
In that same stadium in Rome, Ronaldo played his final match for Inter, the 4-2 defeat to Lazio that handed Juventus the Scudetto in 2002.
“The injury was destiny, but we have to take the blame for what happened on May 5. When your destiny is in your hands and you let it slip away, you can’t get angry with anyone else. We just weren’t ourselves and never managed to figure out what happened. That’s why I was crying.
“That Scudetto was the very least I could give to the Inter fans, for how much they had loved me. I didn’t know it was my last game, I had just told (President Massimo) Moratti that there was simply no connection with Hector Cuper and could never be. There wasn’t even a possible compromise.
“A long time after we said goodbye, I talked about it with Moratti again and we ‘forgave’ each other, with no blame. At that moment, perhaps neither of us had any other choice.”
Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid, but returned to San Siro in the red and black of Milan in January 2007.
“It didn’t go well, but Silvio Berlusconi and above all Adriano Galliani cared for me so much. The rapport with them is a memory that still makes me smile to this day. The respect remains.
“It might seem easy to say that now, but it’s the truth: at that time, I really wanted to come back to Inter. I did everything to come back to Inter. I waited as long as it was possible, but when Inter didn’t give me a yes or no answer, it meant no.
“I didn’t feel that I was a traitor in joining Milan, but rather that I had been betrayed by Inter. It wasn’t a popular choice, but I’ve never been afraid of those.”
Now Inter are challenging for the Scudetto again with new patrons Suning, who have impressed Ronaldo.
“I trust the Zhang family and have the same dream as all the other Inter fans. With all due respect to Juventus, who in Italy set the example for how to run a club and build a new era, but it’s time their dictatorship of Serie A came to an end. It’s now time for Inter, I see no other option.”