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Football

Ronaldo extends Real deal to 2008

Reasons to be cheerful. Ronaldo's prolific goalscoring has cemented Real's dominance in Spain.
Reasons to be cheerful. Ronaldo's prolific goalscoring has cemented Real's dominance in Spain.

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MADRID, Spain -- Ronaldo has agreed to extend his current contract with Real Madrid by two years to the end of the 2007-2008 season.

"I am delighted. There were grave doubts about my signing at first but little by little I have demonstrated that I'm worthy of Real Madrid," said Ronaldo.

The 27-year-old Brazilian forward moved to Real from Inter Milan for 45 million euros ($56 million) in 2002, signing a four-year deal with an option for one further season.

Ronaldo, who has been the subject of speculation linking him with future moves to England or back to Italy, offered a broad hint that he could extend his contract still further at Real.

"We're going to look into something to tie me for life with Real Madrid, a club that inspires passion throughout the world," he said.

Ronaldo is the second of Real's world-renowned players, the so-called "galacticos," to agree to a new longer-term deal following Zinedine Zidane's decision last month to extend his contract to 2007.

Spaniards Raul, Guti and Michel Salgado have also signed new deals recently as part of the club's strategy to keep the squad as stable as possible.

"We're trying to maintain the nucleus of the side for years to come," Real director Emilio Butragueno told the club website. "This is great news for Real Madrid fans.

"As a goalscoring centre-forward, Ronaldo is the best in the world, without a doubt."

Ronaldo emerged from four years of career-threatening injury problems to help Brazil to victory in the World Cup in 2002, scoring two goals in the final to finish the tournament as top scorer with eight.

After a protracted transfer battle, he secured his move to Real and enjoyed an outstanding first season, scoring 23 league goals to lead his side to the league title. He was also named FIFA's World Player of the Year for the third time in 2002.

Ronaldo is comfortably the leading scorer in the Primera Liga this season, with his 22 goals helping Real build an eight-point lead at the top of the table.


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