It’s always nice whenever someone who’s ‘done good’ in any walk of life returns to where it all began and give back to their efforts. Especially in football.
With all of his achievements, it’s easy to forget how crucial Cruzeiro was to the development of Ronaldo. No, we aren’t talking about Cristiano for once, this one’s all about Il Fenomeno. The great one, himself.
In what turned out to be nothing short of a phenomenal career (pun totally intended), Ronaldo stakes a rightful claim as to being one of the greatest strikers ever to grace a football pitch. Personally, I struggle to think of any natural goalscorer who possesses as many weapons in their arsenal of characteristics as he did during his prime years.
Years which took him to table-topping heights with Sir Bobby Robson’s Barcelona and even ‘galactic’ status heralded in the latest era of Real Madrid, but trace their lineage to enjoying some futsal much closer to home.
Futsal was a staple back home in Rio de Janeiro, and a young Ronaldo wasted very little time in seeing whether or not it was something he’d be good at. Especially when he was on the hunt to take some of the attention away from his tougher-than-usual childhood home-life, which had him crying out for something to pour some energy into.
Almost as soon as that first size 5 graced his right boot, it would become a “love” of this which he still holds dear to this very day. In fact, he himself credits his introduction to futsal as a reason for why he became so technically able as a footballer. All of that close control, need to improvise, short space in the goalkeeper area. It all helped!
“What was special about Ronaldo was his attitude. It was as if he had come from the moon. Nothing disturbed him, nothing overawed him, nothing threw him off his game.”Alirio Carvalho – Social Ramos (Futsal) Head Coach on Ronaldo
It didn’t take long before his exploits at futsal level courted the attention of those in the longer form of the game. And it would be ex-Brazilian legend Jairzinho to offer the future star a route into that field. Whereupon he signed Ronaldo for local Rio club Sao Cristavao – progressing well at a relative non-league level before eyes from further afield wandered over – none other than perennial wonderkid-producers Cruzeiro.
Check out an article we wrote here about Kerlon – a household name as far as Cruzeiro are concerned.
Not for reasons the player of club would have wanted, but we move!
Ronaldo officially joined Cruzeiro as a full-time first team player in 1993 (at the age of 17) and took very little time to settle into the life of a professional baller. And even less time than that to make a name for himself!
At such a tender age, there’s a distinct whiff of ‘what’s the worst that could happen’ when Ronaldo draped on that Cruzeiro shirt. A fearlessness which adorns the better footballers of every generation, and only the great ones can hold onto as they get older and more suspect to pessimism. He’s in that group, btw – hence his nickname,
Incredible speed, fantastic striking technique, inexplicable movement. He was wonderful to watch.
“The first time I saw him play was at Cruzeiro. He was still a kid. It was in a game where he ended up scoring five goals. From that point on he showed he was truly a phenomenon.”Cafu on watching Ronaldo at Cruzeiro
Unfortunately for Cruzeiro fans – and supporters of similarly-placed clubs – they had a ceiling. Where it was only a matter of time before players like their Ronaldo would outgrow their boots and seek opportunities elsewhere. PSV would be that club, all before the Inter Milans, Real Madrids, Barcelonas of the world come calling after that.
Now, with the announcement in the past few days stating that he’s going to become an owner of Cruzeiro, it seems as though he wishes to follow up on his Real Valladolid project to bring them back where they need to be. So Ronaldo could have a telling part to play in developing the next … Ronaldo! I love stories like these, I really do.