Brazil’s Ronaldo in 1998 World Cup final mystery

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France ’98 had the lot — great goals, big stars delivering skill and controversy, the host nation riding a wave of euphoria. But the biggest story was kept for the World Cup final itself.

What was the ‘moment’: Ronaldo’s World Cup final mystery

Which World Cup was it? France 1998

Country played for: Brazil

There was no suggestion of Ronaldo being injured. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

There was no suggestion of Ronaldo being injured. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)Source:Supplied

Brazil striker Ronaldo was the best player in the world at the time. The 21-year-old had enjoyed an unbelievable 34-goal season with Inter Milan and was targeting the Golden Boot having already scored four goals in the Selecao’s run to the final.

But when the team sheets were released, Ronaldo’s name wasn’t there. This was unthinkable. Was it a mistake? Was he injured?

Eventually, Ronaldo did play — but he was obviously not right and Brazil slumped to a 3-0 defeat.

What happened on the night has never really been cleared up. An investigation by Brazil’s national congress found that Ronaldo did have a serious seizure on the day of the game. The decision of not selecting the best player in the world for the World Cup final was one no one in the coaching set up was prepared to make.

But that’s not good enough for the conspiracy theorists …

Ronaldo with coach Mario Zagallo after the final. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Ronaldo with coach Mario Zagallo after the final. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)Source:AP

Fellow striker Edmundo, who was due to play before Ronaldo’s return, has suggested it was down to the influence of sportswear giant and Brazil team sponsor Nike on the team selection.

Some say the team doctor was spotted crying after checking his patient, but the final diagnosis was not reliable, as Brazil were so desperate to get their star striker on the field.

LISTEN! Former Socceroo and current player mentor Mile Sterjovski joins David Davutovic and Tom Smithies to reflect on Germany 2006 and provide insights into the Russia-bound squad.

One Brazilian newspaper claimed Ronaldo suffered a nervous breakdown due to the extreme pressure but that he was refused medication over doping fears.

Or maybe it was injections for a secret knee injury? Or a deal with FIFA to give Brazil a hosting gig? Or was he poisoned by the French?

Whatever it was, Ronaldo had to wait until the 2002 final to make amends.


DAY ONE: Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal

DAY TWO: Roy Keane’s epic ‘f*****g” rant

DAY THREE: Luis Suarez’s extraordinary brain explosion

DAY FOUR: The greatest goal celebration in World Cup history

DAY FIVE: The battle of Nuremberg

DAY SIX: The humiliation of Brazil

DAY SEVEN: Escobar’s deadly own goal

DAY EIGHT: The greatest Brazil team ever assembled

DAY NINE: South Korea’s fairytale run at ‘corrupt’ Cup

DAY 10: Tragic tale of Brazil’s most hated man

DAY 11: Dennis Bergkamp’s impossibly perfect touch

DAY 12: Zaire’s free kick madness

DAY 13: France’s mutinous meltdown

DAY 14: The birth of the Cruyff turn

DAY 15: Rossi magic stuns Brazil’s best

DAY 16: Beckenbauer’s pain-defying act of bravery

DAY 17: The drug-fuelled fall of Diego Maradona

DAY 18: The ageless Roger Milla’s 1990 goalfest

DAY 19: England’s greatest humiliation

DAY 20: Rivaldo’s laughably awful dive

DAY 21: The arrival of Pele’s Brazil

DAY 22: Kuwait sheik calls for midgame walk-off

DAY 23: Banks’ greatest save of all time

DAY 24: Toto Schillaci’s World Cup fireworks

Day 25: France and Germany’s brutal battle

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