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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game. More generally, the blog examines questions of leadership, collaboration, teamwork, mentorship and the relationship between sport and aesthetics.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima: A Tribute

When Ronaldo retires we will remember his incredible pace and his buck-toothed smile; his slalom runs through midfield; the acceleration that left defenders for dead; the retreat, deep into midfield and then the assault on goal; the stutter step that allowed him to change direction; the dribbling that we hadn’t seen since Garrincha and Maradona; his clinical finishing with either the left foot or the right; the ability to carve out that extra yard of space when surrounded by two or three defenders; the buzz in the mid-1990s about this player from Cruzeiro who had arrived in Europe and was scoring a goal a game; the boldness of his promise to break Just Fontaine’s record on his own soil; his calmness in front of the penalty spot; his friendship with Romario; his instinctive leadership on the field; his enduring respect for his boyhood idol Zico; his record of scoring in every final before World Cup 1998; his goal in the final of the 1997 Copa America against Bolivia in La Paz; his goals for Inter Milan against Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Cup when Inter was down, away from home, on a pitch that resembled sand; his breathtaking performance against Holland in World Cup 1998; his goals in the World Cup 2002 final against Germany after heart wrenching injuries; his tears in his retirement press conference; his love of Corinthians and the passion of their fans; the way he redefined the number 9 jersey; his joy for the game; the way he made the beautiful game beautiful again.

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, otherwise known as Ronaldo of Corinthians: you changed the sport of football forever. You were the greatest pure striker of all time. We will miss you.

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