Football Mystery of 1998 World Cup final told through Brazilian’s own words
One of the sport’s great individual careers has turned into a burgeoning one as an owner of a club, yet Ronaldo Nazario has opened up about his 1998 World Cup health scare, and how it left him fearful of sleeping the night before the 2002 World Cup final in Japan.
Ronaldo was famously left out of the starting XI by Mario Zagallo, only to be recalled just minutes before kick-off.
Rumours of a seizure of some kind the previous evening ran wild, whilst there also have been several outlandish conspiracy theories on the internet about the incident ever since.
“Before the final in Yokohama, I just thought that I didn’t want to sleep because of the fear it would happen again,” Ronaldo explained in an interview with the Financial Times.
“I looked for people to talk and I found Dida, the substitute goalkeeper, I asked him to stay with me.
“Dida stayed with me all night.”
A lack of sleep didn’t hinder the then Internazionale star’s performance though, as he netted a brace which handed the Selecao the World Cup, although he remains uneasy at the interest people take in the 1998 incident.
“People like conspiracies, but there’s too much shit going around,” Ronaldo intimated.
“It wasn’t my best match that day [1998 final], but I fought and ran.
“There are days when you don’t feel well and days where it’s the exact opposite, it’s not easy to play with your team at a big tournament.”
The former Real Madrid goalscorer has often struggled to keep his weight down, especially in the latter stages of his career with AC Milan, yet he has never been impacted by insults from supporters.
“There are many mobilizing forces for things now,” Ronaldo added.
“If you are black, if you are gay, however I don’t remember anyone defending me when they called me fat. Not that I care.”