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   June 30, 2002 | 2250 IST


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Ronaldo says he's now free

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Brian Homewood

Ronaldo said his two goals in Sunday's World Cup final against Germany have taken a weight off his mind after his controversial performance in at the end of France '98.

"I don't feel in debt with anyone but a weight has been lifted from my conscience," he said after finishing as the competition's topscorer with eight goals. "I'm free."

Ronaldo is all smiles as he holds aloft the trophy. "All this celebrating could have happened four years ago but destiny was that we would have to wait until 2002."

Brazil were beaten 3-0 by France in the final of the 1998 World Cup where Ronaldo controversially played even though he had suffered a fit only hours before.

"I don't want to think about the future now, I'm just trying to think how I'm going to celebrate," said the 'Phenomenon', who was also sidelined for around two-and-a-half years with a series of injuries.

"I have a lot of things to thank God for.

"My big victory, as I have said before, was to play football again, to run again and to score goals again. This conquest today, our fifth world title, has crowned my struggle, my recovery.

"More than anything, it's a victory for the whole group. I must never forget how marvellous the rest of the group was. The whole team ran and battled and helped each other. No individual conquest can beat what the group achieved."

He added: "The goal crowned my work and the work of the whole team. I worked for 2- years trying to recover from my injuries and today God reserved this for me and the Brazilian team. I am very happy."

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".

Since having a fit shortly before the 1998 Cup final defeat by France, Ronaldo has had a series of leg injuries and underwent two operations.

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