In Ronaldo, Brazil had a complete striker

He ticked pretty much every box an attacking player possibly could - speed, strength, technique, finishing, passing, dribbling, off-the-ball movement, whatever else one can think of.

Ronaldo celebrates after scoring a goal for Brazil in the 2002 World Cup.   -  AFP

At his peak, Ronaldo was the most frightening footballer in the world. He ticked pretty much every box an attacking player possibly could — speed, strength, technique, finishing, passing, dribbling, off-the-ball movement, whatever else one can think of. Coming into the 1998 World Cup, Ronaldo was definitely at his peak. He had won the FIFA World Player of the Year award for the previous two years, and had scored 81 goals in his two previous seasons at Barcelona and Inter Milan. He was only 21.

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As expected, Ronaldo was irrepressible throughout much of the tournament in France, scoring five times, including two in the pre-quarterfinal against Chile, and a superb finish in the semi-final against Holland, demonstrating superb first touch with the outside of his left foot to latch on to Rivaldo's cross, holding off Philip Cocu and then slipping the ball through 'keeper Edwin van Der Saar's legs.

The night before the final, however, Ronaldo suffered a seizure, and was taken to hospital. Initially left out of the first team, Ronaldo convinced coach Mario Zagallo that he could play. Eventually, he and the rest of the Brazil side were well below par in the 3-0 defeat to host France.

 

Following that, Ronaldo suffered a series of knee injuries and long spells on the sidelines. By the time the 2002 World Cup began, fans wondered if he'd ever be the same player again. Despite showing a drop in pace, Ronaldo revelled in Japan and South Korea, spearheading a loose trio of forwards comprising himself, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.

He scored against every single opponent bar England (whom the other two Rs took care of), and Brazil rode almost unchallenged to its fifth World Cup title. He scored twice in the final against a subdued Germany, capitalising on a spill from the normally ultra-reliable Oliver Kahn to set Brazil on its way before ensuring victory in the 79th minute with a precise drive into the bottom corner.