Recognised universally as “R9” or “Original Ronaldo”, Ronaldo Nazário is widely viewed as the most talented footballer of his generation. And, unfortunately, as a player who could have become the greatest of all time if his career had not been plagued by incessant injuries.
Ronaldo formed part of the initial wave of Galactico signings, signing from Serie A giants Internazionale for €46 million in 2002.
One of the Brazilian’s many fine performances in the Los Blancos jersey occurred in the Theatre of Dreams, much to the detriment of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad caught in a transitional period.
During the immediate season following his signing for Madrid, Ronaldo faced United in the quarter finals of the Champions League. Madrid won the first leg 3-1 at the Bernabéu.
Ahead of his latest documentary, Ronaldo spoke to The Daily Mail about his impeccable display in the second leg. United won the match 4-3, ultimately being knocked out 5-6 on aggregate, but Ronaldo scored all three goals for the away side.
They asked the footballing icon about the standing ovation which the Old Trafford faithful awarded him as he was substituted off the pitch.
“It was a special night,” Ronaldo remembered. “I came away from that game in love with the United fans because I got that recognition after such a tough defeat for them and they did it as if it was normal.
“I have the photo in my house when I’m going off the pitch and you can see the supporters in the background applauding, it’s a lovely picture.”
Moreover, the former striker was asked about who was the best player of all time. Queried by The Guardian about who is better out of Argentina Greats Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, Ronaldo parried the question and instead revealed his own ‘best of’ list.
“I think there is a very, very special group where you have Diego, Messi, [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, Pelé, [Marco] van Basten, Ronaldinho.
“I would include myself. Let the fans say, let them debate it in the bars. But you can’t rank them, can’t compare generations.”
No room for United’s finest players like Cristiano Ronaldo or George Best in R9’s book.
The documentary ‘The Phenomenon’ about Ronaldo’s career will be released this week via DAZN.
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