Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (Portuguese pronunciation: [χoˈnawdu luˈiz naˈzaɾiu dʒi ˈlimɐ]; born 18 September 1976), commonly known as Ronaldo, is a retired Brazilian footballer who last played for Corinthians. He is widely considered by experts and fans as one of the greatest football players of all time.. He won his first Ballon d'Or as the European Footballer of the Year in 1997 (aged only 21) and again won the award in 2002 (26 years old). Additionally, he is one of only three men to have won the FIFA Player of the Year award three times, along with French footballer Zinedine Zidane and Argentine striker Lionel Messi.
In 2007, he was named as one of the best starting eleven of all-time by France Football and was named to the FIFA 100, a list of the greatest footballers compiled by fellow countryman Pelé. In 2010, he was voted Goal.com's "Player of the Decade" in an online poll, gathering 43.63 percent of all votes and was also included as centre forward in the "Team of the Decade". On 23 February 2010, Ronaldo announced that he would retire after the 2011 season, signing a two-year contract extension with the Corinthians at the same time. Ronaldo has played for Brazil in 98 international matches, scoring 62 goals. He was a part of the Brazilian squad that won the 1994 and 2002 World Cups. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo became the highest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup with his fifteenth goal, surpassing Gerd Müller's previous record of 14. He is also the only player to have won the World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Boot in separate tournaments. Having suffered a string of serious injuries throughout his career, Ronaldo retired on 14 February 2011, citing pain and hypothyroidism as the reasons for his premature retirement.
In 1993, Ronaldo began his football career playing for Cruzeiro which was already going on to become a successful club. In his first and only year with Cruzeiro, he amassed 12 goals in 14 appearances and led them to their first Copa do Brasil championship. Prior to this, he was turned down by his boyhood favourite team Flamengo, but Brazilian World Cup legend Jairzinho saw Ronaldo's potential and helped get him the move to Cruzeiro.  1994–1996: PSV Eindhoven
Ronaldo chose to join PSV after the 1994 World Cup, for he was selected despite being just 17, but did not play. It was Romário who advised Ronaldo to start his European career at PSV; Romário being a former striker of the team from 1988–1993. Ronaldo scored 30 league goals in his first season in Holland. His second season was marred by a knee injury which kept him out of most of the campaign, but he still averaged nearly a goal a game in the league, with 12 in his 13 appearances. With PSV, Ronaldo won the Dutch Cup in 1996 and he was Eredivisie top scorer in 1995.  1996–1997: Barcelona
During his spell at PSV, Ronaldo attracted the attention of both Inter Milan and FC Barcelona. It was Barcelona that was willing to pay the then record fee of $17 million. During the 1996–97 season Ronaldo scored 47 goals in 49 games (in all competitions) for Barcelona, leading the Catalan side to UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph (where he capped the season with the winning goal in the cup final itself) and to Copa del Rey and Supercopa de España wins. He also won La Liga top scorer award in 1997 with 34 goals in 37 games. Until the 2008–09 season, Ronaldo remained the last player to score more than 30 goals in La Liga. At the age of 20, Ronaldo became the youngest player to win FIFA World Player of the Year in 1996. He also finished runner-up for the Ballon d'Or. Ronaldo scoring the winning penalty in the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final against Paris Saint-Germain.  1997–2002: Inter Milan
Ronaldo's time at Barça was brief, as there were problems with the renegotiation of Ronaldo's contract. Ronaldo's unhappiness became evident and at the end of the season, by paying the buy out clause fee in his contract, Inter Milan signed him in the summer of 1997 for a then world record fee of £19 million. He had spent just one year with Barcelona.
Ronaldo duly helped them repeat his former side's cup-winning run, this time in the UEFA Cup, in which he scored their third goal in the final itself. Ronaldo in 1999.
Ronaldo adapted to the Italian style of the game in his first season, finishing second on the league's scoring charts. Ronaldo started to develop into a complete forward. He began racking up assists, became first-choice penalty taker, taking and scoring freekicks, and captaining the team at the end of the season. During his time with Inter, he scored several goals against A.C. Milan in the Derby della Madonnina. He won FIFA World Player of the Year for the second time in 1997, and collected the Ballon d'Or the same year. The following year, after the FIFA World Cup, he finished second for FIFA player of the year, and third for European Footballer of the Year. At this point in his career, he was clearly and widely regarded as the best player in the world.
On 21 November 1999, during a Serie A match against Lecce, Ronaldo felt his knee buckle and was forced to limp off the pitch. Medical exams after the match confirmed that the striker had ruptured a tendon in his knee and would require surgery. During his first comeback on 12 April 2000, he played only seven minutes during the first leg of the Coppa Italia final against Lazio before injuring his knee for a second time. After two operations and months of rehabilitation, Ronaldo came back for the 2002 World Cup, helping Brazil win their fifth World Cup title. Later in 2002, he won the World Player of the Year award for the third time, and transferred from Inter to Real Madrid. Ronaldo was given his most recognizable nickname, Il Fenomeno, by the Italian press while playing there. He was named the 20th top footballer of all time for Inter, according to Times Online, and only his injuries prevented a higher ranking. He played 99 games and scored 59 goals for Nerazzurri.