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
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 …
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.
RE-LIVE THE GREATEST MOMENTS:
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