by Nelly Castillo
February 22, 2002 - After 18 years and an illustrious career, 34 year old Brazilian soccer star, Ronaldo Luis Nazario Da Lima, has retired bringing to close one of the most illustrious and esteemed careers in the world of soccer. Starting his career at just 16 years old, Ronaldo, played for the best teams in the world. Even on his bad days, he could take on an entire team alone and still score, and when he playing at his best, he was even more exciting to watch.
His career was mostly amazing; a Cinderella story. In 1994 after playing professional soccer in Brazil for less than one year, he moved to Europe and joined PSV Eindhoven. He scored 30 goals in his first season,
During his career, Ronaldo scored over 350 club goals won a staggering 97 caps for Brazil. In all, he holds the record scoring the most goals in the history of the FIFA World Cup, including the two goals he scored in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final. Ronaldo’s diligence, were in a great part responsible for Brazil winning two World Cups. He was named World Player of the Year, an astonishing, three times and was the FIFA world player of the year for 1996, 1997 and 2002.
What will his fans remember now that his professional playing days are over?
Would it be the over 600 games he played, many stand out like a comic books story of a super player;
Or perhaps, it would be the over 400 goals he scored, many of his games will be played over and over on the Internet video sites and used by neophyte soccer players as a training vehicle for ages to come;
Perhaps, it would be those blistering fast runs that transformed defenses into bowling pins, which he knocked down and made the man nicknamed the "Phenomenon" and "R9" into one of the world's most extraordinary and feared soccer player?
Or maybe is it was that he was not just a world renowned athlete, but also a happy go lucky, fun at all times type of guy, who enjoyed life to the fullest.
It is a sad day when any sport loses a player that is as much a legend as he was a man; especially one who clearly loves the sport. This is especially true when we think about Ronaldo. He will never be forgetter, will always be emulated and remembered as the player who could alone, whip an entire team with the elegance of a gazelle and the strength of lion.
Ronaldo was easily the finest striker to ever play the entrancing game of soccer during the last many years. On behalf or the myself and everyone that agrees with me thank you Ronaldo for the incredible inspiration you have passed on to future generations. The game will miss a true legend, and we will never forget you.