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Ronaldo: Like Treating An Open Wound

June 8, 2011
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Ronaldo: a (definitely) closed chapter.

It took me one whole month to recover from the announcement that he was going to hang up his boots last February.

The greatest player of my generation was gone, and I had to learn to live with it.

I endured the pain, and accepted the harsh reality of a world without Ronaldo.

But then he came back…

For one last time.

And, now, he is gone. Truly.

And my wounds opened up. But it was worth the pain.

Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima has, officially, finally, one last time, retired.

Done.

Finito.

In the past.

Cue cheesy “The Time of My Life”…

The legendary striker played his farewell to the beautiful game nearly three months after he announced his official retirement, and in the golden shirt of Brazil, wearing the iconic number 9 that brought him so much fame and glory – and goals.

Ronaldo came on at the 30th minute, while Brazil were already ahead 1 x 0 on a goal by Fred, after an amazing assist by Neymar.

The stadium erupted in cheers, the fans cried his name. The man was out there, once again, playing for Brazil. I had to pinch myself a few times.

Yes, it was him. The top World Cup goalscorer of all time, in his first match with the national side since that terrible defeat against France, on July 1st, 2006.

And it was beautiful.

His presence in the squad mobilized the players. Everyone was trying to place him right in front of the net. Every single team-mate wanted him to score.

Neymar would get a hold of the ball, stop, and quickly look around for Ronaldo.

The boy seemed obsessed with getting his hero to score, passing the ball to him incessantly.

Thrice he almost succeeded.

Ronaldo missed three golden opportunities. Twice the Romanian keeper shattered Ronaldo’s (and every Brazilian’s) dreams, denying him the chance – and becoming the most hated man in Brazil in doing so.

And another time Ronaldo skied the ball, sending it far up, into the depths of the dark clouds of Sao Paulo.

It was the only moment in the match that reminded us he had already retired from the game.

Ronaldo wouldn’t have wasted that chance in the past.

Out of shape and lacking rhythm, yes, but he still showed some spark. He was working hard.

His positioning was perfect, and his team-mates were able to find him free inside the box several times, almost too easily.

A natural talent, still pulsating after all these years.

Lucio tried a couple of his classic runs from the defence, seeking Ronaldo out.

Jadson and Robinho desperately fed him every single ball that came through them.

Even Victor, the keeper, at one point tried to feed Ronaldo from the other side of the pitch.

There was a common purpose that united them all. There was drive and passion in every play, in every pass, and that naturally made Brazil play with fluidity and grace.

It was the Ronaldo factor.

Alas, the half-time whistle arrived, and no goals from the Phenomenon had come.

But it didn’t matter, Brazil were playing beautifully, and Ronaldo was responsible for that.

In a way, his performance and inability to score this evening sum up the overall arch of his career: filled with brilliant moments, and somehow still blotted by the occasional “what if”.

At the break, the striker received a standing ovation from everyone:  fans, team-mates, and even Romanians. In fact, the first two people who ran to congratulate him at half-time, shaking his hand, were from the Romanian side.

Ronaldo, after 17 minutes on the field, a closed chapter, at last.

The second half saw Nilmar replace the retiree.

And Brazil lost focus.

The team dropped in productivity, pace, passion…everything.

Nobody wanted to play, it seemed. There was no purpose.

The fans began to cry the name of Ronaldo once more. But they knew it was just a reaction to the pain in their hearts.

Ronaldo was gone. Brazil was gone.

It was a dire second half, with both sides lacking fire and will.

In the end, it ended as it started before Ronaldo came on: 1 x 0 for Brazil.

And, once again, the last whistle was followed by boos from the crowd. Mano Menezes better get his act together.

But it hardly mattered. The score didn’t matter. The game itself didn’t matter.

There were 17 minutes in there that did, however, matter.

17 minutes during which Brazil displayed their best football in months.

17 minutes during which we tasted nostalgia.

17 minutes to say good-bye.

17 minutes now, gone.

But forever in our minds.

Thank you, yet again, Ronaldo.

Time to heal; yet again.

RB.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Florent permalink
    June 8, 2011 8:11 pm

    (tears)

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