Golden feet

Print edition : July 14, 2006

Ronaldo celebrates his goal against Ghana with teammate Kaka. - JERRY LAMPEN/REUTERS

Ronaldo, the Brazilian, cements his place as one of football's all-time greats with a new record in World Cup goals.

Ronaldo, the Brazilian star with a bulging waistline, has once again proved his detractors wrong. Having found the back of the net for the third time in the tournament with his early strike against Ghana in the round of 16, the 29-year-old Real Madrid forward is now the leading goal-scorer in the history of the World Cup. The German striker Gerd "Der Bomber" Muller held the record for the past 32 years. He compiled his personal tally of 14 goals, 10 and four respectively in the 1970 and 1974 World Cup. Incidentally, Germany won its second World Cup in 1974.

Currently playing in his third World Cup, Ronaldo has lost his youthful exuberance and some speed through the years. But in getting past the record of Muller, the 2002 winner of the Adidas Golden Shoe has only proved that his thirst for goals remains far from satiated. "What do I want from now on? More, more and more. I want to keep on scoring, as I still have much left to give," he said.

It has been a tough climb to the top for Ronaldo after he started off in the early 1990s with those fine qualities of mobility, commitment and lethal finishing skills.

This was more or less reflected in his comments on his latest achievement: "How do I make history? It has been tough, difficult, and not that easy. You need a lot of sacrifice and a lot of work. This is the product of many, many years of effort."

Nicknamed the `Phenom', the Brazilian, who celebrates his goal with a trademark wag of the index finger and a toothy grin, could well be heading towards the end of an illustrious career. But he has cemented his status as one of the game's all-time greats. Here is a look-back at those 15 magic moments that Ronaldo crafted in World Cup matches:

Goal 1 (June 16, 1998): An unused member of the champion Brazilian squad at USA 94, Ronaldo had to wait until the second match of France 98 to inscribe his name in the World Cup score sheet for the first time. However, this came as early as the ninth minute against Morocco in an easy 3-0 win.

Goal 2 (June 27, 1998): This came off a penalty kick on the stroke of half-time against Chile in the round of 16 at France 98.

Goal 3: In the same match against Chile, in a burst of speed, he put the ball past goalkeeper Nelson Tapia in the 70th minute to round off a 4-1 Brazilian victory.

Goal 4 (July 7, 1998): The fourth and the last of Ronaldo's goals at France 98 came in the semi-final against the Netherlands, which ended 1-1 at regulation time and was eventually decided in favour of Brazil via the tie-breaker.

Goal 5 (June 3, 2002): Here again, there were doubts about Ronaldo's ability to light up another World Cup match, the player having suffered a series of knee injuries in the preceding two years. But then, the doubters were silenced as the Brazilian helped his side back into the contest with a stunning 50th minute equaliser against Turkey.

A warm hug from Brazilian soccer legend Pele after Brazil won the 2002 World Cup and Ronaldo equalled Pele's record of 12 World Cup goals.-GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

Goal 6 (June 8, 2002): Yet another Ronaldo gem, which helped Brazil complete its 4-0 rout of China.

Goals 7 & 8 (June 13, 2002): It was these two goals (in the 10th and 13th minutes) that paved the way for Brazil's 5-2 win against Costa Rica.

Goal 9 (June 17, 2002): Ronaldo had to wait for long to get to this goal against Belgium. It finally came in the 87th minute.

Goal 10 (June 26, 2002): A superb effort that underlined the quality of this great striker; a flick past Turkish goalkeeper Rustu Recber which sealed Brazil's place in the final.

Goals 11 & 12 (June 30, 2002): These two most important goals of his career came in the final against Germany, when he beat within a span of 12 minutes (the 67th and 79th minutes) Oliver Kahn, later adjudged as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. The second and final goal of the match also helped Ronaldo to tie with Pele as the leading Brazilian goal scorer in the World Cup.

Goals 13 & 14 (June 22, 2006): Much-needed boost to his waning confidence, these goals came in the 46th and 81st minutes in the 4-1 win against Japan. They helped him get past Just Fontaine (who scored all his 13 goals at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden) and equal Muller.

Goal 15 (June 27, 2006): On top of the summit! Just a little after five minutes into the round of 16 match against Ghana.

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