Ronaldo | Biography, World Cup, Awards, & Facts (2024)

Brazilian athlete

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Also known as: Il Fenomeno, Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima

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Ronaldo

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In full:
Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima
Born:
September 22, 1976, Itaguai, Brazil (age 47)
Awards And Honors:
World Cup (2002)

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Ronaldo (born September 22, 1976, Itaguai, Brazil) is a former football (soccer) player who led Brazil to a World Cup title in 2002 and who received three Player of the Year awards (1996–97 and 2002) from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Ronaldo grew up in the poor Rio de Janeiro suburb of Bento Ribeiro. He began playing football as a junior for the neighbourhood Social Ramos Club at age 12 and two years later joined São Cristóvão in the Carioca League. By 1992 he was playing in the Brazilian championship for Cruzeiro. He was a member of Brazil’s under-17 South American championship team in 1991 before joining the national side in 1994.

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Ronaldo was transferred in 1994 from Cruzeiro to PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, where he scored 55 goals in 56 games and won the 1995 league championship and the 1996 Dutch Cup. After switching to FC Barcelona of Spain for the 1996–97 season, he scored 34 goals in 37 appearances and helped his team capture the Spanish Super Cup. Because of his success, Ronaldo was paid $27 million by Inter Milan to play for the Italian club in 1997, a record at the time. At Inter his excellent dribbling skills and knack for scoring goals earned him the nickname “Il Fenomeno.” In 1997 Ronaldo became the first player to win FIFA’s Player of the Year award two years in a row. In 1999, however, he suffered a serious knee injury that left him unable to play for almost two years.

Dismissing concerns that his career was over, Ronaldo returned to competitive play in 2001. At the 2002 World Cup he scored eight goals to earn the Golden Shoe award as the tournament’s top scorer and helped Brazil win its fifth World Cup championship. He then announced that he was leaving Inter for Real Madrid of Spain. After much wrangling, Real agreed to pay a transfer fee of about $46.3 million. In 2002 Ronaldo was named both FIFA Player of the Year and European Footballer of the Year (an award he also had received in 1997). At the 2006 World Cup he scored three goals to bring his career total at the tournament to a record-setting 15 (a mark that was broken in 2014 by Germany’s Miroslav Klose).

While playing for the Italian powerhouse AC Milan in 2008, Ronaldo ruptured a tendon in his left knee—the same type of injury that had occurred in his right knee in 1999—which some thought would put his career in jeopardy. In December 2008 a fully recovered Ronaldo signed with the Corinthians in São Paulo. However, he continued to be plagued by a number of other, less significant, leg injuries during his tenure with the Corinthians as well as by a thyroid condition that made him gain weight, and he abruptly retired from the sport in February 2011.

In 2018 Ronaldo became the majority owner of the Spanish club Real Valladolid.

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The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.

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Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima

Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima, commonly known as Ronaldo, is a former Brazilian football (soccer) player. He was born on September 22, 1976, in Itaguai, Brazil. Ronaldo is considered one of the greatest football players of all time.

World Cup (2002)

Ronaldo led Brazil to win the FIFA World Cup in 2002. The tournament took place in South Korea and Japan, and Brazil emerged as the champions. Ronaldo played a crucial role in Brazil's success, scoring eight goals and winning the Golden Shoe award as the tournament's top scorer.

Player of the Year Awards

Ronaldo received three Player of the Year awards from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). He won the award in 1996-97 and 2002.

Early Career

Ronaldo grew up in the poor suburb of Bento Ribeiro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He started playing football at a young age and joined the neighbourhood Social Ramos Club at the age of 12. Two years later, he joined São Cristóvão in the Carioca League. In 1992, Ronaldo began playing in the Brazilian championship for Cruzeiro. He also represented Brazil's under-17 South American championship team in 1991 before joining the national side in 1994.

Club Career

Ronaldo played for several top clubs during his career. After his time at Cruzeiro, he was transferred to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands in 1994. He had a successful stint at PSV, scoring 55 goals in 56 games and winning the league championship and Dutch Cup in 1995 and 1996, respectively. Ronaldo then moved to FC Barcelona in Spain for the 1996-97 season, where he scored 34 goals in 37 appearances and helped the team win the Spanish Super Cup. In 1997, he joined Inter Milan in Italy for a record transfer fee of $27 million at that time. At Inter, Ronaldo's exceptional skills earned him the nickname "Il Fenomeno." He became the first player to win FIFA's Player of the Year award two years in a row. In 2002, Ronaldo transferred to Real Madrid for a fee of about $46.3 million. He had a successful career at Real Madrid, winning multiple titles. Ronaldo also played for AC Milan and Corinthians before retiring from professional football in February 2011.

Injuries and Retirement

Ronaldo faced significant challenges due to injuries during his career. In 1999, he suffered a serious knee injury that kept him out of the game for almost two years. However, he made a comeback in 2001 and played a crucial role in Brazil's World Cup victory in 2002. Ronaldo faced another setback in 2008 when he ruptured a tendon in his left knee while playing for AC Milan. Despite these injuries, he continued to play and signed with Corinthians in São Paulo in 2008. However, he faced further leg injuries and a thyroid condition that affected his weight. Ronaldo ultimately retired from professional football in February 2011.

Real Valladolid

In 2018, Ronaldo became the majority owner of the Spanish club Real Valladolid.

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Ronaldo | Biography, World Cup, Awards, & Facts (2024)
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