Ronaldo’s Redemption | 2002 World Cup documentary
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Ronaldo’s Redemption | 2002 World Cup documentary

October 10, 2019


So… let’s start because this is a long story. Yeah, it was very bad. It was very bad about how the things came out. So many stories. I’ve never had the courage to ask him what happened because it’s about respect. Respect the man, respect the idol, respect what happened. The episode with Ronaldo was not
the cause of Brazil’s defeat. However, we can’t deny that it was a scary situation. Our reaction after conceding the goals was close to zero. We couldn’t muster a reaction against France. This doesn’t take anything away from France’s achievement. They played extremely well. People forget to say that France played perfect football. They created four opportunities and scored from three of them. People say, “Brazil didn’t play that day.” We did, but France played better. We knew it would be hard when we went back to the dressing room at half-time losing the match. We thought it would be difficult. France were playing at home, leading the game, playing well and had home advantage. I was on the pitch during that final. I was waiting for the line-ups and then I was really surprised. When we got the teamsheet with Edmundo playing instead of Ronaldo, everyone panicked. We were trying to guess what had happened. We couldn’t use our mobiles – there was no reception. We tried to reach the players we knew better, the technical staff and no one answered. It was huge misinformation – everyone was surprised. Then we got the information that Ronaldo had arrived in the stadium and he would play. It was a troubled situation. Certainly, one
of the biggest surprises I ever experienced because the team was confirmed the day before. Ronaldo was going to play. He was the main player for Brazil. We talked about it. Everyone was there, Roberto Carlos was there. Ronaldo suffered a breakdown and spent some time away from the hotel. He then went directly to the dressing room in the stadium. His body was still aching and he wasn’t 100% ready for that match. It was a difficult situation. Not only for Ronaldo, but also for the coaching staff. What can we do? The player had a breakdown. He came back in time for the match and wanted to play. He said he was alright. It’s very complicated. That’s why I say that the atmosphere before the match was bad. In the 1998 final, I decided to get some rest after lunch and the last thing I remember was going to bed. After that, I had a convulsion. I was surrounded by players and the late Dr Lidio Toledo was there. They didn’t want to tell me what was going on. I asked if they could leave and go talk somewhere else because I wanted to sleep. Then Leonardo asked me to go for a walk in the garden in the hotel where we were staying and explained the whole situation. I was told that I wouldn’t play in the World Cup final. All the essential medical exams didn’t show anything was abnormal. It was like nothing had happened. After that we went to the stadium with a message from Zagallo saying that I wouldn’t play. I had test results in my hand – with Dr Lidio Toledo giving the green light – I approached Zagallo at the stadium and said: “I’m fine. I’m not feeling anything.” “Here are the test results, they are fine. I want to play.” I didn’t give him an alternative. He had no choice and accepted my decision. Then I played and maybe I affected the whole team because that convulsion certainly was something very scary. It’s not something you see every day. In any case, I had a duty to my country and I didn’t want to miss it. I had my honour and felt that I could play. Obviously, it wasn’t one of the best matches in my career, but I was there to fulfil my role. He could run 100 metres in 10.2 or 10.3 seconds. Usain Bolt did it in 9.8 seconds. And he wasn’t just fast. He had power and strength combined. When he came back to action on that fateful date – 12th April 2000 – he suffered a complete patellar tendon tear. Actually, his knee exploded. His patella ended up in the middle of his thigh, an injury considered extremely serious. The image is horrible… When we see his knee… His face is suffering with the pain. This period was hard because he was returning from knee surgery and thought he was ready to play again. And then he suffered an extremely serious injury – a complete patellar tendon tear. The new surgery was way more complicated. The prospect of making a recovery was uncertain back then. Everyone knows that. Much was said back then about whether he would be able to ever play again. After surgery, his knee was as big as a futsal ball. He was taking morphine in the hospital crying when he called me to his room. He asked: “Please tell me, mate: will I ever play football again?” “Don’t tell me lies. Will I ever be able to play football again?” We were just starting a recovery program and the whole world was saying that he wouldn’t return. Even science doubted whether he could – his doctors weren’t sure if he would… My world fell apart. I remember that eight months through the recovery process, I was still unable to bend my knee over 100 degrees. Then I travelled to the United States and a well known specialist said that there was no chance I would play football again. He recommended a new surgery to unblock my knee so I could bend it an extra 30 degrees. I returned to France and checked into a clinic in the south of the country in Capbreton – near Biarritz. I stayed there for three months doing some recovery sessions every morning, afternoon and sometimes even during the evening. I was constantly in a bad mood because I wasn’t able to play football. I couldn’t think of anything other than getting better. We didn’t care about that because we trusted the man. We trusted the medical staff. For what they said about him. He had something very powerful which a lot of people didn’t believe. He had the inner strength to overcome the bad situation. He used that power-strength to transform the situation in favour of him, to inspire him. We were on his side. We were together. I never thought he wouldn’t be able to play again. I knew he would have a hard time ahead of him, but he would come back. When Dr Gerard Saillant finished the surgery, we had a meeting with the Internazionale board. He mentioned that the only player he did a similar procedure with was the Portuguese player Paulo Futre, who didn’t return to play at the same high level. So Ronaldo broke an immense paradigm in science with regards to recovery after a serious injury like that – a complete patellar tendon tear. He came back at the highest level. The mental strength that he had to overcome all the barriers – maybe people don’t fully realise how painful it is just bending the leg. How much uncertainty surrounds the treatment, not knowing if it will heal properly. Would he be able to score again? All those questions made him mature. The only guarantee I had was that if I failed I would have to retire. I was chasing my opportunities. I never questioned my will to heal quickly. I never doubted I would do what was necessary to come back. But I doubted science. I doubted if there were actual treatments available to help me play again. I am not a doctor. I am not a physiotherapist. I haven’t studied that. So I learned from my injuries. And the reality was that this kind of procedure – with so many screws and leads – doesn’t match everyone’s vision of a footballer. In some ways it was practically a miracle. But I always hoped I could make it. If the World Cup were to start today, Scolari could count on all 23 players he chose in his first squad. That’s the kind of luck that the Brazilian coach hasn’t had since the 1990 World Cup. It was Big Phil’s personal choice. That’s one of his characteristics. He put faith in his players. He put faith in Ronaldo because he knew Ronaldo was different and one cannot leave a special player behind, even if he is not 100% ready. I remember one day during the qualifying campaign – we were at the hotel in Fortaleza, Ceará and Big Phil was playing tennis with another journalist. We were chatting amusingly with Big Phil. There was a military base nearby and some soldiers were running and marching around. When they passed by they were chanting, “Big Phil, call Romario! Big Phil, call Romario!” Everyone burst into laughter. There was huge pressure because the whole country wanted Romario in Selecao. And Big Phil said: “No, we won’t call Romario. We will call Ronaldo, Luizao and all the players that I want.” We could tell that Ronaldo was motivated. Big Phil knew how to manage the situation, all the egos in the dressing room. I think we could feel how prepared Ronaldo was. Not only him, but Rivaldo too because Big Phil put a lot of faith in him during the qualifying campaign. We could feel that those two players were prepared – and they ended up being the most important players during the tournament. All the pressure puts you on high alert automatically. You prepare yourself even more. We know how passionate the Brazilian fans are with regards to football and the national team. So we were motivated but the expectation from the fans made us prepare even better and play at our very limit. I am so grateful for the confidence Big Phil has shown in me. The natural choice would have been to call someone else. A player in better shape, playing constantly, but he placed a bet on me. Back then I told him I would do whatever it takes to be in his team. I would do whatever was necessary to be fit and pay him back during the World Cup. Nobody would say Brazil were favourites in 2002. However, we knew our potential. We qualified for the finals in our last round playing against Venezuela. It was 2-0 and Luizao scored twice. It was tough. We got there saying, “It’s in God’s hands.” Most people thought like that. When the World Cup started, the opening match was extremely important for giving me some confidence back. We were losing 1-0 to Turkey and when the second half started I got the ball from Rivaldo and the only chance I had to score was throwing myself towards the ball. That’s what I did. I’ve thrown myself, got the touch and scored the equaliser. It was a bit messy but it worked. I didn’t feel any pain and could play almost the entire match. The day after was the worst. I was in pain because I hadn’t played a full match for so long. But I felt confident again. Especially because the Turks were hard and aggressive. They’d beaten me during the whole match. We played them twice and both times were difficult. Brazil’s financial district was taken over by football. In reality, it was taken over by the love of football. Brazil has all the saints. San Marcos and San Ronaldo – he set the country on fire when he opened the scoring. Shortly after, the same Ronaldo scored again: 2-0. The path to the fifth title was clear. And so it was samba and party… We didn’t start the World Cup at our very best. However, we improved during the competition, especially after the quarter and semi-finals. We understood each other better. We believed in ourselves. The fact that we were a discredited team on our way to the World Cup, that people said that we wouldn’t even go further than the group stage then we saw that we could change that. We played very well and ended up winning the tournament in that fashion. Being part of a winning side is a great achievement in itself. In Ronaldo’s case, he was not only playing as part of the group, he was crucial for the title, especially because of his goals and his performances. That diagonal toe poke goal he scored against Turkey in the semi-final was a key moment in my memory because that was a very difficult match. This goal in the semi-final was extremely important. We weren’t playing well. I had a small muscular injury in my right thigh, in the adductor muscle. Maybe that’s the explanation for the toe poke. I was in pain and maybe my muscle wouldn’t have coped if I’d tried a kick with the laces or with the inside of the foot. Anyway, this kind of move comes from futsal – I played a lot of futsal during my childhood and I brought a lot of tricks from that time. Maybe the famous one was that toe poke because it was a goal in a World Cup semi-final. The game was really tight with the Germans. It’s so hard to play against them because they play the same way for the 90 minutes, 100 minutes if necessary. We knew it wouldn’t be easy in the final. They got a good chance; Ronaldo got a good chance before he scored. When he got another chance, he made it. This is what makes Ronaldo special because he kept on insisting on what he wants to achieve. He’s a natural for this job; it’s so natural for him. When he lifted the trophy, in that moment, I remember I was close to him. He went to kiss the trophy – we went together. It was an amazing moment. It’s a very proud moment for everyone. I was a little afraid of getting some sleep after lunch in 2002. I avoided that. I didn’t get any rest. I went after my colleagues to talk but everyone had the habit of getting some sleep after lunch, I could only find Dida awake and we were chatting for a while. He was very kind to me. He distracted me because every time I thought about the 1998 final, I remembered the convulsion episode. That was my biggest fear before the 2002 final. I stopped thinking about that when we were on our way to the stadium. I was very focused on the match and then we had that wonderful final – where we win the title. I could bury all the traumas I had in the past. I left the pitch five minutes before the end. When I got to the bench I hugged Rodrigo Paiva who was by my side during that journey. I started to cry and told him: “We did it. It was so hard but we won it.” How can you not support a guy like him? Ronaldo is a role model in terms of overcoming difficulties. His will and determination as an athlete shows that you can change history and overcome setbacks. I always say football was my university. I didn’t have time to go to college but football taught me more than any masters or doctorate. No course could have offered me what I’ve got from my life as a footballer. I will always be grateful to football and all it gave me and the person I’ve become. I didn’t know how strong I was until I suffered those injuries and then really needed to be strong. I think that football gave me so much more than I gave to football.

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  1. Hi everyone! Thank you for clicking on this video. We just want to let you know this film has been fully subtitled in English. The subtitles should come on automatically, but if they don't you just have to turn them on.

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  2. A copa de 98 vcs se venderam isso sim.O valor da premiação que pagaram os jogadores foi muito boa pra vcs cederem aquele título.

  3. Nice video but i don't think they know what the word redemption means. Comeback? resurgence? Recovery? Those would have been better and more supportive words. He gave to football as much as it gave him.

  4. Ive done a favela tour in Rio two Weeks ago and our Tourguide told us:
    No Ronaldinho, Neymar nor any other big,famous football player is helping with money the poor people of their home area/ brazil in general, just the FAT RONALDO, who is building schools…is helping really much. (Y)

  5. Not to take anything away from France, but had the player that was tearing teams apart on the way to the final showed up to that game in 98 (i.e. no seizure), I feel they'd have lost, my reaction was probably the same as the whole of Brazil that day, panic, indignation and disappointment smh, how could that have happened. Was 11 years old and it seemed so unfair to me, emotionally I couldn't handle it lol.

  6. Sure he lost to France at 98. Tbh France 98 was hell of team, they have nothing compared to France. But, Brazil 02 was godlike.. Best WC Squad of all time.

  7. I still remember the moment.

    1997 – I'm a 5 year old boy sitting with his father in his garden and watching football. Some game of the Brazil national team.

    Then my father said: "look.. There's the best player in the world".

    That was the moment I became a fan of ronaldo. I watched every game of him throughout his career. Every team he played in was my favorite team.

    And today he still is my favorite player and to me the best striker in history.

    I remember in 2002 when my whole family cheered for Germany (we are Germans) and I was the only one going absolute crazy and cheering for Ronaldo's goals and everyone was kinda confused at my reaction 😂

  8. I personally think Romário with Ronaldo up front was the best combo I’ve ever seen together. Too bad Romário couldn’t play 1998 World Cup. Instead they had Bebeto.

  9. Apart from being the best player I have seen playing a live match, he is a super decent guy. Just compare his ideas (for example, "football has given much more to me than I gave to it") with when you hear the arrogant Cristiano speaking. The best player to have ever played the sport (along with Pelé).

  10. Was he poisoned or what?What really happened to him that day is a bit shocking and quite stranged!

  11. Everyone knows Ronaldo was poisoned in 1998. Some french cook put some medication in his food at lunch which caused him to convulse. He NEVER had this problem before or since. Ever! Too much of a coincidence. What are the odds of this single episode happen JUST before the final?!? Zero.They wanted to win at home in the worst way and the way to do it was to take our best player out. Cheating BASTARDS!!!!!

  12. Having learned (read: still learning) my Portuguese in Africa, I have to concentrate so hard to perceive the Brazilian accent. Mas tudo estão bem. São legendas todos.

  13. El Fenomeno is the best ever in my eyes. I just wish he never had those injuries you can imagine what other great stuff we would see from him. But to come back after those serious injuries and to win and play great just goes to show you what a special talent he was and what a strong minded person he was to come back and play at a high level

  14. Wow this was… amazing content. 23 mins of quality information and entertainment. Well done @FourFourTwo

  15. Ronaldo Fenômeno

    Fazia 100 metros em 10.2 /10.3 segundos

    IMPRESSIONANTE 10.2

    Usain Bolt fez isso em 9.8

  16. You give everyone to football
    Obrigado Ronaldo was a pleasure watch you make this amazing sport the beautiful game!
    My favourite player of all time!

  17. Yesterday 30.6 was 17 years since Brazil's last World Cup win… he scored both goals in the final. Boy how I hated that Brazil team: they seemed to win all the time and in Ronaldo they had the ultimate weapon against the world's tightest defences.

    But at least they were entertaining to watch and had team chemistry. Brazil in recent years plays such disjointed football and the likes of Neymar/Coutinho/Oscar/Ramires/Jesus etc. are unwatchable.

  18. First time I saw R9 play was against us at the Olympics in 1996, against Nigeria (I was 15). I remember vividly well we were both in the group stages. Oh boy! R9 gave us that shit. Even though we managed to beat 'em at the semis, the rest is history. He's the best Center Forward/Striker that ever lived. His pace is scary, body feints is 100% brutal, then add his dribbling skills. Till this very day, I go on YouTube to watch his videos. Taribo West was at Inter during that period, that alone made me see more matches of him. And I keep telling my friends he's the most complete player ever! R9 "The Phenomenon"… Take a bow!

  19. My favorite player of all time. He only played 300 some games despite playing over a span of 15 years, due to two horrible injuries. He dominated at every club he played for when he was at his best, for me the greatest player of all time.

  20. He was a fantastic player I'd put him in the top five all time …. Some of his goals were galaxy class !

  21. My favorite football player! Give him the ⚽️ he would dribble and trick away all his opponents even the goalie 🥅 .. It’s pains me to see that a football player like him who doesn’t care about injury but always entertaining the crowd and fans all over the world is no more . Players these days are babies .

  22. Greatest comeback in football history

    Not a great WC in 2002, but will always be remembered for R9

  23. Greatest player of all time in my opinion on talent, People tend to say others due to their careers being longer and have more to show honours wise, but this guy when he was at the top of his game was easily the best player the world has ever seen

  24. The first football game I ever watched was the 1970 WC. I
    was just 7 years old, and it made me fall in love with this beautiful game.
    Since, I've seen many great players , and games, but for me, no one even can
    come close to Ronaldo's talent, ability, and accomplishments. He played almost
    in every big league in Europe, won the WC, set records, and all these with a
    carrier cut short because of injuries.

    What a beautiful player, and person. Always humble, and ego
    free. All he ever wanted to do on the pitch is to play football, and win. No
    image marketing  stunts , no rolling on
    the pitch crying for a foul call, just pure joy to watch him play, something
    that I can't see from stars of today. I really find it hard to understand how
    any well knowledge football fan can compare any of today's stars to Ronaldo. I
    say Ronaldo only, and not R9, because there is only one Ronaldo in my book, and
    he is unmistakable. The greatest ever.

  25. AH COME ON… everybody knows had Ronaldo been himself, France wouldn't have stood a chance in that game. This is the reality, and I'm not taking anything away from the French players themselves, because also that team were a class act.

  26. I missed school, lost jobs and girlfriends for watching him play any regular match on TV, I watched most of them until his first injury. He was true a "Fenomeno" inside and outside the field I never heard that someone could walk after his injury. Majestic experience of life following his career. 0 regrets about the damage I did to myself. Best player EVER!

  27. Fast and also strong. Skillful and also powerful.
    Could shoot using his left or his right… also good with freekicks and headers.

    Yeah, CR7 and Messi are awesome… but I feel like R9 was unique, you know. So many traits.

    R9 is a legend. Unique. O Fenômeno!

  28. Vc foi dopado pelo serviço secreto francês,coisa de profissional.
    Não fosse isso o Brasil ganharia da França.

  29. If we had diving in 1994 maybe he wont have hurt his knee
    I dont think diving is bad if there is contact
    Do you want more players to suffer career ending injuries?

  30. People overlook the fact that Ronaldo also inspired Brazil to win the 1997 and 1999 Copa America tournaments, where he scored 5 goals in both tournaments, including a goal in each final, PLUS he scored 3 goals in 5 appearences at the 2006 World Cup!!!! No disrespect to France winning the 1998 World cup final, but you can't help feeling that had Ronaldo been on the same form in the 1998 WC final against France as he was in the semi-final against Holland, that Brazil probably would have won the match.

  31. The only player to make me cry with joy for greatness and for his injuries and retirement . But no other player gave us his all in the sport , Messi nor Chistiano could have the come back with those injuries on them. He is the KING of soccer, he played in all top league and ruled, the World followed him everywhere.

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