Called "extraordinary" by soccer great, Pelé, and considered by many to be the best soccer player on earth, passionate Brazilian superstar Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima (1976-) was born in Bento Ribeiro, a poor suburb of Rio de Janeiro.
"My mind is completely clear whenever I play," the gifted athlete once said.
Ronaldo played street soccer as a boy and dreamed of playing professionally. He signed his first pro contract in 1990 and quickly gained a reputation for playing with speed and strength on the field.
"Just to be a good player is not enough for me," he said.
With determination, he scored each goal with a never-say-die spirit. Fans loved his remarkable moves.
In 1996, he was the youngest player ever named FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) Player of the Year. And if that wasn't enough, in 1997, he became the only player to hold the title for two consecutive years.
The soccer sensation was named 1998 World Cup MVP, then was sidelined for two years following a serious knee injury in 2000.
Ronaldo came back with a vengeance in 2002 by leading Brazil to an exciting World Cup victory. He scored eight times, including both goals to beat Germany 2-0 in the final game and again won the FIFA Player of the Year title.
A celebration of resillience, following his fearless World Cup comeback, he said, "My big victory...was to play football again. To run again and to score goals again. This conquest today, our fifth world title, has crowned my struggle, my recovery."
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