Better than sex says 'new Pele'
YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Ronaldo's four long years of pain, fear and heartbreak evaporated on Sunday as the world's hailed him as the new Pele.
The Brazilian, whose career was threatened by a terrible knee injury three years ago, buried his dreadful memories of the 1998 World Cup final once and for all with a towering performance in the 2-0 win over Germany.
It gave him the same number of World Cup goals (12) as his country's -- and the world's -- best ever player, Pele and ensured Yokohama 2002 would be remembered as the Ronaldo final. (Brazil celebrates)
After the game Ronaldo said winning the World Cup was better than sex -- because it only comes around once every four years.
"Both are very hard to stay without and I'm sure sex wouldn't be so rewarding as this World Cup.
"It's not that sex isn't good but the World Cup is every four years and sex is not," he said, adding cheekily: "I'm going to have sex in a few moments."
A virtual passenger four years ago against France following pre-match convulsions, the 25-year-old was clearely a man who had laid a ghost to rest.
His two goals in a virtuoso second half display on Sunday earned him the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer with eight -- the highest total since 1970 when Gerd Mueller got 10 for West Germany. (Match report)
They also laid to rest doubts about the health of his surgically rebuilt knee -- and gave him some measure of payback for his flop in Brazil's upset 3-0 loss to France four years ago.
"Today God reserved this for me and the Brazilian team. I'm very happy and proud. I dedicate these goals to my family and to doctor Gerard Saillant," said a tearful Ronaldo, referring to the French doctor who performed the surgery on his knee that saved his career.
"It's thanks to my family and him that I'm here to celebrate these goals in a World Cup final after two and a half years of suffering and sorrow," added Ronaldo.
It was a fitting reward for a man who looked the sharpest player on the field just as he has done for most of Brazil's unbeaten run.
With the game won, he was substituted in the final minute. As the seconds ticked away he was embraced by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Every emotion must have been running through his mind as the whistle blew to confirm his country's record-breaking success.
Wrapped in a Brazilian flag and overcome by emotion, he walked slowly towards the huddle of celebrating players.
When they saw him coming they turned as one and he was hoisted shoulder high to be paraded in front of the delirious Brazil fans.
Just hours before the game, Ronaldo had met the French doctor, Saillant, who had reconstructed his right knee in two operations.
"It gives hope to everyone who is injured or hurt, even those who aren't sportsmen, to see that by fighting you can make it and he's back to where he was," Saillant said.
"It's hugely satisfying. I am very moved."
Brazil-Germany: Heavyweight clash
June 30, 2002
Whistle blower Collina picked for final
June 28, 2002
Ronaldo magic sees off Turkey
June 26, 2002
German joy as Ballack ends Korean dream
June 25, 2002
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
WORLD CUP TOP STORIES:
Euphoric return for Brazil
Ronaldo and Brazil World Cup kings
Agony to ecstasy for Kahn
Brazil dances to dazzling triumph
Cheering crowds take to the streets
|Back to the top|