Born: 22 September 1976
Birthplace: Bento Ribeiro, Brazil
Best known as: The Brazilian soccer star who was thrice FIFA's Player of the Year
Name at birth: Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima
A brilliant and fluid forward, Ronaldo was one of international soccer's great stars of the 1990s and Brazil's biggest soccer hero since Pele. At age 17 he was a member of Brazil's 1994 World Cup-winning squad, though he did not play. The same year he joined the Dutch professional team PSV Eindhoven. His professional contract was purchased by Barcelona in 1996; the next year he moved again to Italy's F.C. Internazionale Milano, remaining until 2002 when he transferred to Real Madrid. He was named FIFA's World Footballer of the Year in 1996 and 1997, becoming both the youngest player to win the award and the only player to win the award in consecutive years. He also starred in the 1998 World Cup, scoring four goals in leading Brazil to the Cup finals, but he was criticized for their 3-0 loss to France in the championship game. Slowed by injuries in the 21st century, Ronaldo nonetheless made a triumphant return by leading Brazil to the World Cup championship in 2002. He won the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer (with eight goals) and scored both goals in Brazil's 2-0 final game win over Germany. That year he was again named FIFA's Player of the Year. Despite accusations that he had become overweight and less than energetic, Ronaldo scored three goals in the 2006 World Cup, giving him a total of 15 in World Cup play -- a new record. He transferred from Real Madrid to A.C. Milan in January of 2007; he was injured in early 2008 and his contract was not renewed later that year. He signed with the Brazilian club Corinthians, but was hobbled by bad knees and other injuries. He retired in February 2011, saying "Mentally, I wanted to continue, but I have to acknowledge that I lost [the battle] to my body."
Extra credit: Ronaldo wore jersey number 9... He should not be confused with Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese soccer star. It's a Brazilian soccer tradition for stars to be known by their first name alone... Ronaldo was named for Dr. Ronaldo Valente, who attended his birth... Ronaldo's 1994 World Cup jersey read "Ronaldinho" to distinguish him from an older teammate with the same name; by the 2002 World Cup he had become the undisputed Ronaldo and was joined by a younger teammate who was called, in turn, Ronaldinho... World Cup 2006 was won by Italy; Brazil crashed out in the quarterfinals... Ronaldo became engaged to model Daniella Cicarelli in July of 2004, but they later broke off the engagement. Ronaldo previously was married to Brazilian soccer player Milene Domingues from 1999-2003, with whom he has a son, Ronald (b. 2000).
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