Ronaldo the Phoenix, again on top of Brazilian football

March 10th, 2009 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

By Diana Renee
Rio de Janeiro, March 10 (DPA) The world of Brazilian football was again at Ronaldo’s feet Monday, just hours after the veteran striker proved wrong those who doubted his chances of recovering from a third knee operation, a 13-month absence from the pitch and several kilograms too many.

With a header in injury time that led his current club, Corinthians, to a valuable 1-1 draw Sunday against archrival Palmeiras in the Sao Paulo state championship, Ronaldo sealed his status as the Phoenix of Brazilian football.

The goal softened the hearts of the demanding Corinthians fans and shut up sceptics in the media.

“Who still has the courage to doubt Ronaldo?” football commentator Mauro Beting wondered Monday in a column in the sports daily Lance.

The “Phenomenon” - as the forward is known - celebrated his goal as if it had been the first in his career. He ran around the pitch and climbed onto the fence that separates the players from the fans. A crowd gathered, and the fence broke, although no one was injured, and no one complained.

“The truth is it was very scary, because I called the fans to approach me and the fence was not sturdy enough. It was a bit of an irresponsible attitude,” the striker admitted after the game. “I hope you will understand me, because at a moment like that the only thing you want is to celebrate.”

Ronaldo, 32, said the goal strengthens his confidence in the intense recovery period he has been undergoing since December when he joined Corinthians.

“The plan is not yet finished. I need to improve the physical aspect and to keep working, but I am left with the feeling that I am on the right track and that this is only the beginning,” he stressed. “This is only the first of many goals to come.”

Almost all of Brazil’s sports media shared Ronaldo’s confidence Monday, and they praised his performance against Palmeiras.

“Not even the most enthusiastic admirer of the ‘Phenomenon’ could have hoped that his reunion with good football and goals came in such an emotional, decisive, epic fashion,” said the daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

In the same newspaper, the prestigious commentator Juca Kfouri recalled that, in just under half-an-hour on the pitch, Ronaldo showed some brilliant play, including a shot that hit the crossbar.

Despite the optimism of player, analysts and fans alike, Corinthians coach Mano Menezes declined to confirm Ronaldo’s place in the team’s starting line-up and would not say whether he would be on the pitch Wednesday in the game against Sao Caetano.

“We are going to evaluate the situation and we will decide whether he is already ready to start the game or not. The important thing is for him to be in a position to put on a good performance,” the coach said mysteriously.

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