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Ronaldo fulfills his destiny 4 years on

Reuters
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Mitch Phillips

Ronaldo's four long years of pain, fear and heartbreak evaporated on Sunday as the world's greatest striker finally fulfilled his destiny.

The Brazilian, whose career was threatened by a terrible knee injury three years ago, buried his dreadful memories of the 1998 World Cup final once and for all with a command performance in the 2-0 win over Germany.

Ronaldo and Rivaldo kiss the coveted FIFA World Cup.A virtual passenger four years ago following his pre-match convulsions, the 25-year-old produced a virtuoso second half display on Sunday, scoring both goals in a win that brought Brazil their fifth world crown.

The goals also earned him the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer with eight -- the highest total since 1970 when Gerd Mueller got 10 for West Germany.

It was a fitting reward for a man who looked the sharpest player on the field just as he has done for most of Brazil's unbeaten run.

In a tight first half he had two half-chances and, as the whistle was about to blow at the break, a good one which he fired straight at the legs of Oliver Kahn on the turn.

As the game went on he continued to look the man most likely but few would have expected the breakthrough goal to have come about as a result of a Ronaldo tackle.

He ran into a dead end in a 64th minute break and was dispossessed by Dietmar Hamann. But as the German midfielder moved away Ronaldo scurried after him and stole the ball back. He immediately fed Rivaldo and after Oliver Kahn made his first mistake of the tournament by failing to hold the midfielder's stinging shot, Ronaldo swept the ball into the net.

SEALED VICTORY

He sealed the victory 12 minutes from time after Rivaldo dummied a low Kleberson cross, leaving Ronaldo time to instantly control the ball before curling his shot just inside the post.

With the game won, he was substituted in the final minute. As the seconds ticked away he was embraced by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Every emotion must have been running through his mind as the whistle blew to confirm his country's record-breaking success.

Wrapped in a Brazilian flag and overcome by emotion, he walked slowly towards the huddle of celebrating players.

When they saw him coming they turned as one and he was hoisted shoulder high to be paraded in front of the delirious Brazil fans.

It was a moment he could hardly have dared imagine as he fought to come back after his devastating knee injury. Twice he broke down to spark real concern that he would not only return to the World Cup stage but might never play again.

"The goals crowned my work and the work of the whole team. I worked for 2- years trying to recover from that injury and today God reserved this for me and the Brazilian team," he said.

He dedicated his goals to "my family in the first place and my physiotherapist who fought with me without knowing that we would be here two years later".

Just hours before the game, Ronaldo had met the French doctor, Gerard Saillant, who had reconstructed his right knee in two operations.

"It gives hope to everyone who is injured or hurt, even those who aren't sportsmen, to see that by fighting you can make it and he's back to where he was," Saillant said.

"It's hugely satisfying. I am very moved."

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