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   June 29, 2002 | 2130 IST


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Player of the Day - Ronaldo

Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima is better known as Ronaldo. In soccer circles, he's known as, 'The Phenomenon'. As if to reinforce his top billing, Ronaldo scored a double for Brazil at the Cup finals.

Ronaldo In the final against Germany, Ronaldo had a lacklustre first half. He fluffed a couple of goal scoring opportunities but he more than made up for it by scoring a brace in the second session. In the 67th minute, Ronaldo capitalised on a rare mistake by Germany keeper Oliver Kahn. He made it a double in the 78th minute when he netted home off a Kleberson diagonal.

The victory was just reward for the gifted Ronaldo. This was his third consecutive Cup final appearance. In USA '94, he watched Brazil lift the Cup from the bench. In France '98, he suffered a fit before the final and was listless as Brazil got blanked out 0-3 by hosts France.

The '98 Cup debacle was followed by a serious ankle injury which almost prompted Ronaldo to hang up his boots. His club Internazionale Milan deferred its public listing fearing a bad valuation on account of his suspect knee. Ronaldo put all the misery behind him at the 2002 World Cup by scoring eight goals and bagging the Golden Boot.

Ronaldo is a classic rags-to-riches story. He took his soccer seriously from a tender age. He yearned to play for the legendary Flamengo club, but couldn't afford the bus fare for trials. So, at age 13, he turned out for Sao Cristovao instead. He got transferred to Cruzeiro and ensured they won the local league.

He made the headlines in 1994 as a 17-year-old when he got sold to PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league for $ 6 mill. Coach Bobby Robson of Barcelona secured his services for $ 20 million in 1996. He returned the favour by scoring 49 goals in 51 matches for Barcelona.

In 1997, his net worth went from embarassing to obscene when Inter Milan bought him for a record $ 28 mill. Nike signed him for a 10-year contract as a brand ambassador for a reported $ 1.5 mill annually. Also, Nike designed a shoe tailored to his pacey style of play called, 'Mercurial'.

The 26-year-old has now etched his name in the annals of soccer history. In 69 internationals, he has scored 45 goals. He is the third highest scorer at the World Cup with 12 goals.

The worth of all his achievements? Priceless.

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