He caught the attention of experts and media as the boy wonder. In the following years, he would be termed as the Fenomeno. After coming back from a terrible knee injury, he would help Brazil to win the World Cup for the fifth time in 2002– a dream, which he and his teammates wished to fulfill four years ago in France. He was the ultimate champion whenever he wore the shirt of National Team, but he was equally impressive while playing for his clubs in Europe.
We are talking about Brazil’s legendary striker Ronaldo Nazario de Lima aka O Fenomeno, who spent a brief period playing in two of Spain’s biggest clubs: Barcelona and Real Madrid.
So, how was it playing alongside the all-time best striker?
His teammates spoke about it to Marca.
Here are the excerpts:
Roberto Carlos, Left-back, Real Madrid
I have known Ronnie since 1993 when we started playing together, I had participated in almost everything Ronaldo has lived through in his career since then.
When he was at Inter, I always spoke with him to find out how he was and he would tell me what was going on.
It was in the Brazilian team where we have shared more time together, we shared a room at every international gathering.
He was the best striker in the world, he gave us a lot of confidence.
The key to defending against him was to stop him from getting the ball.
Oscar Garcia, Attacking Midfielder, Barcelona
I was lucky to be very close to him for some of his goals, I saw how fast he was moving, it was even difficult to catch him to celebrate goals, he was still at the same speed.
From his very first training sessions, we saw that he was a different player and that he was going to help us a lot.
You just knew he was going to be a world star, and he was, but what caught my attention most was his humility, he treated everyone the same and was always smiling and joking, he gained confidence very quickly.
Until the arrival of Messi, I hadn’t seen a player who drove with the ball at that speed,” he added.
I have only seen him and Messi do that.
I have been fortunate to have many great teammates, but without a doubt, Ronaldo is in the top three.
Abelardo Fernandez, Center-back, Barcelona
He was spectacular, the most powerful striker I have ever played with.
I only worked with him for a single season at Barcelona, but I think that was his best season, he was only 20.
His goal against Compostela perfectly illustrated what Ronaldo was at that time, it had everything: strength, speed, control of the ball, and the goal was always in his eye-line.
Tote, Forward, Real Madrid
At Old Trafford I was on the bench, virtually sat with the fans and you noticed just how much respect they had for him.
He scored three goals and they applauded him, you can feel the fear and the emptiness in a stadium when he got the ball, that’s only managed by the true greats.
Ronaldo was very good with people, even with a youngster like me.