Ronaldo Nazario will all the time be remembered as one of many best strikers ever to grace a soccer pitch.
El Fenomeno’s heroics for Brazil on the 2002 World Cup are etched into historical past, although not many recall that he additionally represented his nation on the Olympics.
Again in 1996, Ronaldo (aged 19) topped a star-studded Brazil staff who attended the Atlanta video games within the USA.
The event was for under-23 gamers, with three exceptions permitted.
Rivaldo (24), Bebeto (32), Juninho (23), Roberto Carlos (23) and Dida (22) additionally featured of their aspect.
They have been decided to convey house Brazil’s first ever Olympic gold for soccer, however can be met with fierce opposition.
Argentina took Diego Simeone (26), Roberto Ayala (23), Javier Zanetti (22) and Hernan Crespo (21) to the event.
Italy introduced Alessandro Nesta (20), Fabio Cannavaro (22) and Gianluigi Buffon (18).
Spain enlisted Raul (19), Fernando Morientes (20), and Gaizka Mendieta (22).
And France had Robert Pires (22), Sylvain Wiltord (22) and Claude Makelele (23) of their squad.
Amid the abundance of expertise on the event, Ronaldo was the clear star identify of the long run.
Nevertheless, he didn’t even play beneath his personal true identify.
Again within the early phases of his worldwide profession, Ronaldo was really generally known as ‘Ronaldinho’ (which suggests little Ronaldo in Portuguese) and had that identify on his shirt.
This was as a result of Ronaldo Rodrigues de Jesus, his older teammate on the 1994 World Cup, was additionally known as Ronaldo and nicknamed ‘Ronaldao’ (which suggests huge Ronaldo).
When the true Ronaldinho initially joined the Brazil setup, he needed to be generally known as ‘Ronaldinho Gaucho’ so he wasn’t confused with R9.
Finally, El Fenomeno grew to become the oldest Ronaldo and reclaimed his true identify, however on the 1996 Olympics, Ronaldo additionally went beneath ‘Ronaldinho’ as one other teammate, Ronaldo Guiaro, was two years older than him.
R9’s Brazil have been drawn in a gaggle with Japan, Hungary and darkish horses Nigeria.
Remarkably, they misplaced their opening recreation 1-Zero to the Japanese, however Ronaldo got here alive within the different two group matches.
El Fenomeno knocked house Brazil’s first purpose of the event of their 3-1 win over Hungary with Juninho and Bebeto additionally discovering the web.
Then, within the last group recreation towards Nigeria, Ronaldo blasted his aspect to a 1-Zero win with a purpose from outdoors the field.
Of their quarter-final towards Ghana, the 19-year-old took centre stage once more and bagged a brace in a 4-2 win.
Subsequent, owing to the format of the event, Brazil met Nigeria once more within the semi-final.
The outcome appeared pre-determined given the 1-Zero win that had gone in Brazil’s favour simply six days prior.
Flavio Conceicao put Brazil forward within the opening minute, however this time Nigeria hit again as Roberto Carlos scored an personal purpose.
Earlier than half-time although, Conceicao scored once more and Bebeto added a 3rd to place Brazil in a commanding lead.
With 15 minutes to go, they appeared destined for the gold medal match.
Nevertheless, Victor Ikpeba scored within the 78th minute to encourage a outstanding restoration and 19-year-old Nwankwo Kanu levelled the sport in stoppage time.
Kanu then scored a golden purpose winner early in extra-time to astonishingly dump Ronaldo’s favourites out of the competitors – 4-Three the ultimate rating.
Nigeria, who additionally had Taribo West (22), Celestine Babayaro (17) and Jay-Jay Okocha (22) amongst their ranks, went on to upset Argentina 3-2 within the last and win a extremely surprising gold medal.
Brazil have been left within the bronze medal match.
Ronaldo discovered the web as soon as extra in a 5-Zero thrashing of Portugal to verify he left with a medal, albeit not the one he needed.
Ronaldo recalled to InsideTheGames years later: “It was a tremendous expertise.
“Brazil performed very well as much as the semi-final once we have been 3-1 up towards Nigeria with 10 minutes to go.
“Sadly the staff fell asleep and managed to lose 4-3, and couldn’t realise the dream of the gold medal…
“My bronze medal is vital – all athletes dream of an Olympic medal and for that motive [mine] is at house in an vital place.
“I feel that the Olympics are essential all through the world for all athletes.
“Soccer is such a giant ardour worldwide that the World Cup is all the time going to be essentially the most needed trophy however the Olympics is such a great probability for the under-23 gamers, to advertise these abilities on the world scene.”
Ronaldo scored 5 targets on the 1996 Olympics and lit up the video games along with his youthful exuberance, though an imposter named ‘Ronaldinho’ received all of the credit score.