Ronaldo: The 1998 World Cup final puzzle, and why didn't the Brazil striker barely appear?

Ronaldo: The 1998 World Cup final puzzle, and why didn’t the Brazil striker barely appear?

Those who have been plagued by these strange events will never forget history: Paris, 12 July 1998, a four-year game in preparation – the FIFA World Cup Final.

Historians will record the match with a 3-0 victory over Zinedine Zidane and France, a result that sparked emotional scenes for the celebration of the Champs-Elysees of the host country.

It was the only World Cup final that Brazil lost between 1994 and 2002, but there was a lot of story and a lot of excitement before kicking the ball.

The current drama may perhaps be best summed up by the famous BBC game commentator John Motson, who has covered 10 World Cups during his radio career.

“The guard team distributed the team papers as usual, and if Ronaldo’s name was not present, everyone who looked at their statement had the same reaction,” Motson told CNN Sport.

“There were people standing and waving and asking what was happening? We sat there in a state of utter agitation for a long time.”


Ronaldo was one of the biggest stars in the global match, as the Brazilian fans expected to lead them to the fifth world title. The idea that he would not play was simply unimaginable.

To context, try to imagine Argentina play in the World Cup Final and to drop Lionel Messi from the team, without any prior indication of a problem or injury.

This was the size of the bomb that fell on the Stade de France stadium that evening, 22 years ago. With these events appearing in front of a global TV audience of hundreds of millions of fans, no one seemed to have any idea what was going on.

Motson recalls: “My reporting colleague saw Ray Stubbs, Pele sitting in the comment box.” “He ran and asked him about everything. Pele just stretched his hands and said he knew nothing.”

Mutson colorfully describes a state of complete confusion that continued for what looked like “half an hour” and handing over the revised team sheet did little to clarify matters.

In this alternative group, Ronaldo was playing ninth in Brazil. However, without any further explanation, no one can say for sure whether Ronaldo will really play until the referee blew the whistle and can be seen standing in the middle of the field.

Ronaldo got a glowing career at the club, where he played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid.

In those uncertain moments, Brazilian and French writers and soccer writers from all over the world were desperately trying to understand everything. Was the first team paper a mistake? Typing error? Was it a game skill?

Did the Brazilians try to kick the French team out of their match? Former Mates team striker, Gary Lineker, was described by fellow Motson as the “biggest close in the history of the FIFA World Cup.”

For anyone who was familiar with coordinating such a large occasion, there was other evidence that something had deviated from Brazil. Motson says his constant memory of the event was the absence of his players on the field to warm up.

“I always remember that, because it was quite unusual for the team not to go out and do some exercises. There are obviously a lot of things going on in the Brazilian dressing room that we weren’t involved in.”

This will be too little. What happened later was that the Brazilian players, who should have prepared for the biggest match of their career, were very concerned about their friend and fellow talisman.

Goalkeeper Dida, who was part of the Brazil national team and won the title with Ronaldo four years later, told CNN that when he arrived for dinner before the match, the happy atmosphere in the team room evaporated.

“I saw everyone taking a strange look at their faces, in complete silence, very unusual for the Brazilians during the finals. One of them said,” Ronaldo is not feeling well, he went to the hospital. “

Only several years later, Ronaldo admitted that he had suffered cramps in his room and had been unconscious for several minutes. Roommate Roberto Carlos invited the team’s doctor, and took part in a series of events that would rival anything that happened on the field later that night.

Ronaldo from Brazil and appeared in front of the camera during the match against France in Turin, France in Lyon, France. The match tied 1-1. Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill / Allsport

Ronaldo told the BBC in 2014 that he spent three hours in the hospital, doing “whatever you can imagine”. There were tests, there was medicine, but in the end, there was no conclusion. He said, “As if the cramps never occurred.”

“Nobody knows why and how it happened,” Dida explained. “When I went to the stadium, he was still in the hospital. We were all worried and sad about it; we were not aware of what was going on.”

The Brazilians made their way to the match without any music on the team bus, which is a stark indication of their concern

“When he arrived saying he wanted to play, there was an explosion of happiness, a little bit of hope, we all knew that Ronaldo could do anything in the game,” Dida added.

Ronaldo was the Mega Star player whose coach Mario Zagallo could not say no. His substitute, Edmundo, was returned to the bench, but the hastily rearranged game plan in the preceding hours was now ignored without more time to rethink

Perhaps it is not by chance that France’s first two goals came from Zidane in fixed corners, taking advantage of loopholes in Brazil’s disorganized defense.

Graffiti depicting Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo, drawn by Brazilian street artist Paulo Consentino, to celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Once the game started, it was soon clear that Ronaldo was not shooting all the cylinders. As the game slid away from the defending champions, the 21-year-old was a shadow for the player who had already won two FIFA Player of the Year awards and scored four times on his way to the final.

“He went through the playing moves at the center of the striker. But he definitely had no effect on the game,” Motson says. “He just got a very regular match and so does the Brazilian national team.”

Veteran commentator estimates that the events in Paris are classified as the most extraordinary in his career and the plot continued for a long time after that night, as one of the many conspiracy theories indicated that the new sponsor of Nike pressed Zagalo to play Ronaldo. It ended up in a subsequent government hearing, but there was no evidence to support such a claim.

Mutson was also calling for the final in Yokohama four years later, listing the most notable note for Ronaldo, who has recovered from multiple knee injuries to score six times and then twice in the 2002 final against Germany.

It was a game that brought back memories of Paris inevitably, and for Ronaldo himself, it was very painful.

Ronaldo kicks the ball to score the first goal against Turkey during the 2002 FIFA World Cup semi-final match Korea Japan Japan June 26, 2002 in Saitama, Japan.

Ronaldo said that after lunch on the day of the final, he did not want to sleep, just in case. “I was very afraid that it could happen again,” he told the BBC in 2014.

His salvation was Dida, who this time was roommate. The goalkeeper’s recipe for success? A lot of talk and spot golf in the team hotel.

He said, “Hi, I’m afraid I sleep because I don’t want the same thing to happen.” “I said don’t worry, calm down, because this time you are not with Roberto Carlos!” Dida told CNN, which stayed with Ronaldo until the start of the match, a reassuring presence in the hour the striker needed.

“We relaxed, played [golf] Then he went to sleep. Nothing happened. We got up well, happy and ready to play. “

Dida appeared in 91 games for Brazil and went to three World Cups. He was a team player in the years 98 and 02 and played in the Seleção race to the 2006 quarter-finals.

However, perhaps his greatest contribution to his country was in Yokohama. Perhaps his personal touch on that final day made all the difference.

The events of July 12, 1998 were so strange that it would always seem a mystery to some, but with Dida’s help, Ronaldo managed to break the case in 2002.

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