Ronaldo entered the 1998 FIFA World Cup billed as the world’s greatest player by reporters in the sport. Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian writes, “In 1998, no one was as ferociously talented as Ronaldo, whose supernatural mixture of power, pace and skill had made him the player every child in the playground wanted to be; at the age of 21, the hopes and dreams of a nation rested on his shoulders.” He scored four goals and made three assists en route to the final. Hours before the final he suffered a convulsive fit. At first, Ronaldo was removed from the starting lineup 72 minutes before the match, and the team sheet (with Edmundo as his replacement) was submitted to the FIFA delegate. The starting line up without Ronaldo was released to a stunned world media. The BBC’s John Motson stated, “The scenes in the commentary box have been absolute mayhem and chaos.” However shortly before kick off, after pleading that he felt fine and requested to play, Ronaldo was reinstated by Brazil coach Mário Zagallo. Ronaldo was the last Brazilian player out of the tunnel as the teams entered the field. During the playing of the Brazil national anthem the camera focused on him throughout, with Ronaldo showing little emotion. Steinberg states that Ronaldo “sleepwalked” through the final, which also saw him injured in a collision with French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. Zagallo admitted the fears over Ronaldo affected his team psychologically, and stated “for the whole of the first half I was wondering whether to take him off”, but feared a public outcry in Brazil had he done so. Brazil lost the match to hosts France 3–0. Ronaldo later reflected: “We lost the World Cup but I won another cup – my life.” An inquest was launched in Brazil, with team doctor Lídio Toledo telling the commission “imagine if I stopped Ronaldo playing and Brazil lost. At that moment I’d have to go and live on the North Pole.” Adrian Williams, professor of clinical neurology at Birmingham University, said that Ronaldo should not have played, that he would have been feeling the after effects of the seizure, and “there is no way that he would have been able to perform to the best of his ability within 24 hours of his first fit – if it was his first fit.” Despite his sub-par performance in the final due to his seizure hours earlier, Ronaldo was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament for his performances leading up to the final, and finished the tournament as the joint-third highest scorer. The nature of the incident set off a trail of questions and allegations which persisted for years, with Alex Bellos writing in The Guardian, “When Ronaldo’s health scare was revealed after the match, the situation’s unique circumstances lent itself to fabulous conspiracy theories. Here was the world’s most famous sportsman, about to take part in the most important match of his career, when he suddenly, inexplicably, fell ill. Was it stress, epilepsy, or had he been drugged?“
Things to Know:
These boots were used by Ronaldo during the Fifa World Cup “France 98”. They were used in several games and they were given to his team mate the goalkeeper Carlos Germano who we got it from. The boots were given after the World Cup and they were very used and damaged with a sole missing. This Nike Mercurial, especially made for World Cup 1998 for Ronaldo, and used by him only, is definitely the most popular known Nike model ever. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nike Mercurial in 2018 a Ronaldo Mercurial 1998 re-edition was released. See below Ronaldo with the 2018 Mercurial.