A bit belatedly, we’re bringing you the conclusion of our “Ronaldo retires” discussion—a conversation that had been stewing for long before the official announcement came last week. Who could ignore his battle with fitness? Still, no one could deny that he was one of the most effective strikers to ever play the game.
While we dwell a bit on his ignominious end, let’s also remember some of his early greatness—check out the footage from his time at PSV and Barça below. And as always, obrigado to our man in Brasil, Mark Gannon for the incisive input!
Ronaldo has definitely gotten fat. Not “heavy for a player” or “a little overweight” or anything like that. He’s fat. When he was first signed, I joked that I couldn’t imagine where Corinthians managed to find a team shirt big enough for him. This year, I have actually wondered where they got his shirts. But here’s the thing: even fat, Ronaldo could actually be effective.
Corinthians, much to the delight of fans of the other major teams in São Paulo, failed to get past Tolima, a Colombian club of which most Brazilians were unaware before this matchup, to get to the group phase of Libertadores. In the São Paulo leg of the home-and-home “pre-Libertadores” matches between Corinthians and Tolima, Tolima played much better than I ever would have expected and completely deserved at least the 0-0 tie it got. In the second game, in Colombia, Tolima played slightly worse than it had in the first game, and Corinthians continued not playing well. Tolima ended up winning 2-0, and even though I thought the Colombian team had played better in the first leg, the 2-0 result was not unfair at all. Anyway, in those matches, the moments when I thought Corinthians was closest to actually scoring were when somebody managed to get the ball to Ronaldo. Yes, he’s fat and slow, but he has not forgotten what he knew about positioning, and he didn’t forget how to shoot either.
Given how much Ronaldo talked about Libertadores when he announced that he would come back to play one more year, as soon as it was clear Corinthians was going to be eliminated before even making the group phase of Libertadores, I wondered whether he might retire sooner than the end of the year. By Saturday night there were rumors all over that he would retire on Monday. On Sunday, everyone was reporting that he would retire and even saying it had been confirmed, even though Ronaldo’s press conference remained scheduled for Monday.
One more little tidbit. They tell me that in his press conference, Ronaldo claimed that his weight problem is the result of a thyroid condition. I’m not sure if it’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. When Ronaldo had to have surgery on an injured hand, he had some liposuction too, and when I saw him afterward, I wondered if the liposuction stories had been just unconfirmed (and false) rumors. He’s had big problems with his weight, and I don’t buy that he “isn’t trying” to lose weight, as many self-appointed amateur nutritionist-trainer-psychologist-endocrinologists have asserted. I’ll be interested to see if he does lose weight now.