Quotes on: Ronaldo “Il Fenomeno” Luis Nazario de Lima

“In December 1992 I said I’ve sent a boy to Cruzeiro who is going to be Brazil’s next striker. He will play in the 1998 World Cup. They asked the name and I said ‘Ronaldo’.”
— Roberto Gaglianone, Ronaldo’s first coach at Sao Cristovao

“The first time I saw him play was at Cruzeiro. He was still a kid. It was in a game where he ended up scoring five goals. From that point on he showed he was truly a phenomenon.”
— Cafu

“I played with him at PSV Eindhoven. He was very young at the time, but you could already see he was going to be a world class player.”
— Jaap Stam

“When he was in his prime, Ronaldo was frightening. He had such incredible balance and power for someone so quick. Played with that Brazilian swagger and scored loads of goals, including some incredible ones.”
— Denis Irwin

“[ . . . ] at his best he was almost unplayable. Could score a goal from nothing, and any type of goal.”
— Shay Given

“The original Ronaldo remains one of the most clinical forwards I ever saw. [ . . . ] Big, strong, aggressive but he was more than just a powerhouse. He’ll go down as one of the best goalscorers of all time.”
— Ray Parlour

“He went to Holland, Spain and Italy and enhanced the reputation of Brazilian football in all three countries. He came back home and breathed new life into the Brazilian championship and Corinthians. Brazilian people should be grateful for what he’s done for our football.”
— Pele

“Never in my life have I seen an 18-year-old play in this way.”
— Rudi Voller, after Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in PSV’s 4-5 loss at Voller’s Bayer Leverkusen in the 1994-5 UEFA Cup

“The best player I have seen in my career.”
— Clarence Seedorf

In the presence of a myth. In awe of a legend. When five feet from The Phenomenon, even Ibrahimovic had to pinch himself.
In the presence of a myth. In awe of a legend. When five feet from The Phenomenon, even Ibrahimovic had to pinch himself.

“For me, Ronaldo is the greatest. He was as [good as] Pele. There was nobody like him. No one has influenced both football and the players who emerged as Ronaldo.”
— Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“The best opponent of my career? I’ve played against many, many good players, so I don’t know who to keep. But I would say Ronaldo, ‘El Fenomeno’. Why? Because he was my idol and because, as a football player, he was complete. There will never, in my view, be a better player than him.”
— Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“I put up photos of Ronaldo in my room. Ronaldo was the man. Not only because of his step-overs and goals in the World Cup. Ronaldo was brilliant on every level. He was what I wanted to be, a guy who made a difference. [ . . . ] Ronaldo was my hero and I studied him online and tried to take in his movements, and I thought I was getting to be an awesome player. I danced down the pitch with the ball.” — Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“I didn’t need any time to gel when playing alongside Ronaldo. He knew how I played and I knew where he liked to receive the ball. It was very easy to play with him because he was great at finding the right positions both inside and outside the box. As soon as I picked up the ball, he already knew what I was going to do with it.”
— Rivaldo

“Ronaldo was cold, powerful and a great finisher. He would do things that you didn’t expect. He would do a great trick to break free and score.”
— Carlos Bacca

“Ronaldo had pace and power and how good was his finishing? He’s the kind of striker that only needed to touch the ball once or twice to score a brace. Only great players like him can do that.”
— Sergio Aguero

“When I was younger, the way the Brazilian Ronaldo played had an influence on me. For me he’s the best striker and the best player of all-time. I watch videos of him, and try to do what he does, but it’s not easy. It’s impossible to pull off the same moves as he did.”
— Karim Benzema

“Ronaldo was my hero. He was the best striker I’ve ever seen. He was so fast he could score from nothing, and could shoot the ball better than anyone.”
Lionel Messi

At the 1998 World Cup, after the best two years of his career. Photo: Ross Kinnaird /Allsport
At the 1998 World Cup, after the best two years of his career.
Photo: Ross Kinnaird /Allsport

“The best player I have ever played with? That’s Ronaldo, il Fenomeno. [ . . . ] I have seen il Fenomeno do things that nobody else has ever done.”
— Kaka

“For me, the best players are those who are able to think of a play and execute it quickest and in the best way possible, and Ronaldo Nazario has been the best at that. The speed of thought that he had – and the speed he had to carry out his actions – were perfect. It was something amazing. I’ve thought a lot about other players before. I think he was a phenomenon.”
— Kaka

“He’s one of the best attackers you could ever wish to see [ . . . ]. He was such a spectacular player, he ran so quickly with the ball he dribbled with it all the time. [ . . . ] the movement of his legs put defenders in so much difficulty, and then in front of goal he was so at ease and uncomplicated when it came to having a shot.”
— Robert Pires

“The best I have ever played against. If it wasn’t for injury I think he would be talked about on the same level as Pele and Diego Maradona.”
— Gianluigi Buffon

“My favourite Brazilian footballer of all time is Ronaldo. I was fortunate enough to play against him many times, and I was lucky enough to play against him before he got those serious injuries that affected his career. He was a formidable player, a sensational player. He was sort of like an alien because of what he could do on the pitch. The fact that a footballer like him is not remembered as the best player of all time is a great tragedy in my opinion. He had all the skills he needed to be the best ever.”
— Gianluigi Buffon

“Ronaldo did things nobody had seen before. He, together with Romario and George Weah, reinvented the center-forward position. They were the first to drop from the penalty box to pick up the ball in midfield, switch to the flanks, attract and disorientate the central defenders with their runs, their accelerations, their dribbling.”
Thierry Henry

“He was always an example for young people to look up to, for the way he overcame adversity. I was fortunate enough to play alongside him, my idol, for many years and we had so many great times together. He was always an idol of mine and will always be a friend.”
Ronaldinho

“He was my idol and then I end up playing and winning a World Cup with him. The most complete striker there has ever been, the most complete striker there will ever be, it is almost unbelievable to think that he never won the Champions League.”
— Ronaldinho

“I’ve never seen a player able to show such precise control at such a high speed. Watching him was like watching a character in a video game.”
— Marcel Desailly

“If there’s only one player who deserves that nickname, O Fenomeno, it’s him. He’s a phenomenon.”
— Juca Kfouri, a Brazilian sports journalist

“Ronaldo is the best example of a sportsperson I’ve seen who made a comeback to the game, thrice, against all the odds.”
— Juca Kfouri

“I wasn’t able to see Pele play, but I’ve seen Ronaldo, and I’ve never seen a player like him. He’s unique, number one in everything.”
— Emerson

“His movement off the ball was incredible. I’ve never seen anyone with better movement. He positioned himself in such a way, it would make it really easy to play alongside him. I’d like to have played with him, and I’m sure he would then have scored 2000 goals, because I would’ve given him the ball every time.”
— Zico

“Ronaldo was marvellous. He had one year with me at Barcelona, I bought him from PSV, and he was out of this world. He was a god, absolutely fantastic. He had amazing ability, was a great young athlete, a nice character, respected me and it was sad he only played eight months for us there. [ . . . ] The year he had with us you could see he was going to be phenomenal. He was so strong, would go past people, come deep to get the ball, turn and whatever you put in front of him there was a chance he could always go through you. Power and skill.”
— Sir Bobby Robson (when asked about the best signing he’d ever made)

“I once saw Ronaldo score a goal for Barcelona where he beat five or six players. As I’ve said, he was phenomenal. [ . . . ] Maradona at his best was the best I ever saw. A superb player. Ronaldo would be a close second though.”
— Sir Bobby Robson

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“When Ronaldo finally put the ball into the net [ . . . ] (Sir) Bobby Robson had his head in his hands. He simply could not believe what he had seen. And nor could anyone else.” — Sid Lowe (Sports Illustrated, 2011)

“He was the fastest thing I’ve ever seen running with the ball. Had he managed to stay free of injury, he had every chance of becoming the best footballer ever.”
— Sir Bobby Robson

Ronaldo was lean, mean, as quick as an Olympic sprinter and some of the goals he scored had me shaking my head in disbelief.”
— Sir Bobby Robson

“Sometimes you watched him and you think ‘Christ! Had you tried, if you tried, you could’ve been the most incredible footballer ever.'”
— Sid Lowe

“[ . . . ] Make no mistake, [ . . . ] Ronaldo was the best. The pity is that he was not the very, very, very best. Or that if he was, it was only briefly. He was brilliant but he could have been completely and utterly bloody brilliant. Every. Single. Game. For years and years.”
— Sid Lowe (Sports Illustrated, 2011)

“When he was one on one with the goalkeeper, you knew — just knew — that he would score. He was so natural, so cool, so utterly in control. He would dip the shoulder, step over, and bang!”
— Sid Lowe (Sports Illustrated, 2011)

“In 1996-97, Ronaldo was unreal (for Barcelona). So good, it embarrassed the rest of the (Spanish) league. He could have embarrassed everyone, everywhere. He was so good that had he done that throughout his career, he might just have been deemed the best player ever.”
— Sid Lowe (Sports Illustrated, 2011)

“That season Ronaldo was unstoppable. He just blew you away. He scored 47 in 49 games. You watched him and wondered how he had done it; you knew you’d never seen anything like it. Barcelona won the Copa del Rey, the Cup Winners Cup and the Spanish SuperCup. It scored more than 100 league goals — Ronaldo got 34 of them. When Barcelona effectively lost the league, it did so in Alicante against Hércules. Ronaldo was back in Brazil. “That day our beast was missing,” said Pep Guardiola, saying it all. Watch the goals again and it is incredible just how often he went around the keeper — something that adds a kind of childish pleasure, a sense of sheer superiority, to his goals. People talk about walking the ball in; Ronaldo so often did. All it lacked was his getting on his hands and knees and heading the ball in from the goal line. He was slim and powerful, skillful, fast and deadly. He was ridiculously good.”
— Sid Lowe (Sports Illustrated, 2011)

FC BARCELONAS BRASILIAN STAR RONALDO CELEBRATES GOAL

“I played with him during his only season at Barcelona. It was in 1996-97, and for me that was the greatest year of his life. It was before the injury, and I really don’t think he has been the same player since. Back then he could beat a whole team on his own – he would go past players as if they weren’t there. I remember one goal when he took the ball from midfield and ran past eight players. It was crazy! I could not believe what I was seeing.”
— Laurent Blanc

“I’d seen him on television at PSV and thought ‘wow’. Then he came to Barcelona. He’s the most spectacular player I’ve ever seen. He did things I’d never seen before. We’re now used to seeing Messi dribble past six players, but not then. He was strong, a beast. A kid as well. He was typically Brazilian, doing the samba in the dressing room.”
— Luis Enrique

“A pleasure to play with, even if it was only for a short time. He was so strong and skilful and could do everything at pace and still be deadly. One of the best finishers in the business and a really nice, down-to-earth bloke.”
— Albert Ferrer

At the peak of his physicality and explosive pace, Ronaldo was unstoppable. In this goal against Valencia, he breached a wall of two defenders like they weren't there.
At the peak of his physicality and explosive pace, Ronaldo was unstoppable. In this goal against Valencia, he breached a wall of two defenders like they weren’t there.

“After Maradona the best player was Ronaldo [ . . . ] it is my opinion that he is the best of the last 20 years.”
— Jose Mourinho, after Klose broke Ronaldo’s record for goals scored in World Cup finals in 2015

“I was in Spain when he was playing for Barcelona, and I can tell everybody that he was one of the best. He was impossible to mark, he had an acceleration that made him difficult to stop, he was scoring goals for fun, he was doing things that the rest couldn’t do. He was the special player during my time in Spain.”
— Gus Poyet

“[ . . . ] he’s not a man, he’s a herd.”
— Jorge Valdano

Note: There seem to be varying versions of Valdano’s comparison of Ronaldo and a herd; for instance, Sid Lowe included this in his 2011 Sports Illustrated article: “When Ronaldo attacks, it is like the whole herd attacks.”

“He didn’t come to France to compete with the players of his generation but to seek a place amongst the best of the two millennia – this one and the coming.”
— Jorge Valdano, during the 1998 World Cup

“If Romário, his predecessor, was subtlety, Ronaldo is exuberance. If Romário’s habitat was the penalty area, Ronaldo’s home would need to measure half the size of the pitch. If Romário is the past, Ronaldo’s almost cybernetic play belongs to the future.”
— Jorge Valdano, during the 1998 World Cup

“When he played for Barca, he was chosen FIFA World Player, (became) top-scorer, a lot of things that were unthinkable for a player of his age. He assumed that pressure, and won it all. I think he deserves even more respect than he receives.”
— Fernando Torres

“He has done what no other player could do in football.”
— Samuel Eto’o

“Ronaldo during his first two years at Inter was phenomenal.”
Paolo Maldini

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Do many pictures symbolize Serie A in the 1990s the way this does? The best attacker in the world against the best defender. Even the mythical Maldini couldn’t take the ball off Ronaldo. An unstoppable force against an immovable object.

“I play in Italy and everyone I’ve ever talked to there said that Ronaldo was the best player that ever played in Italy. For me he was the most complete player ever.”
— Miroslav Klose

“Ronaldo is a brilliant player and a phenomenon with whom I wouldn’t dare to be compared to.”
— Hernan Crespo (after replacing Ronaldo at Inter Milan)

“Whether he goes left or right, you don’t see the ball. It’s magic.”
— Marcel Desailly

“I remember the defenders were all afraid of him. That’s the word at the time of facing him.” 
— Alberto Zaccheroni

“Coaches recommended a second defensive line against him because everyone had the impression that Ronaldo would be able to lose his marker, whether it was with a sprint, or facing a defender directly.”
— Marcello Lippi

“He could do whatever he wanted with the ball. If he decided to score, then he’d score. He had strength, technique, and could play anywhere, on any pitch, against any opponent. He was above everyone else.”
— Sandro Mazzola

“What I saw Ronaldo do in that first season at Inter, *sighs*, well I’ve never seen anyone do that. He did incredible things with the ball, at such speed. Incredible.”
— Sandro Mazzola

The greatest player in the world. A mythical footballer.
The greatest player in the world. A mythical footballer above everyone else at age 21.

“Ronaldo? Simple… for me he was the best ever. He was without a doubt the best player I have ever coached in my career. He was a crazy talent. He had an extra gear compared to the rest and he used to do incredible things on the pitch. In training he was even stronger than what you could see in games. Sometimes I was left stunned by the things he did. For him this was normal… but only for him. Unfortunately his career was conditioned by many nasty injuries. Maybe… maybe… he could have gone on to play a lot longer.”
— Luigi Simoni, Ronaldo’s first manager at Inter Milan

“Ronaldo was phenomenal. He proved that he was a cut above the rest that season. I remember his goal against Lazio – he took on the keeper and managed to put him on his back without touching the ball. It was incredible, but he did tricks like that in every training session. We were used to it.”
— Youri Djorkaeff, speaking about Inter Milan’s 3-0 victory over Lazio in the 1998 UEFA Cup final

A shadow. A ghost. A blur.
A shadow. A ghost. A blur. “When he was one on one with the goalkeeper, you knew — just knew — that he would score. He was so natural, so cool, so utterly in control. He would dip the shoulder, step over, and bang!” Sid Lowe

“Ronaldo is the hardest attacker I’ve ever had to face. He was impossible to stop.”
— Alessandro Nesta

“The worst experience I ever had was playing against Ronaldo when we faced Internazionale in the 1998 UEFA Cup Final in Paris. He’s an incredible player. I have watched that game on video so many times since then, trying to work out what I did wrong. We lost 3-0 but I don’t think now it was my fault. Ronaldo was simply unstoppable. He is so quick he makes everyone else look as if they are standing still.”
–Alessandro Nesta

Any mentioned of Alessandro Nesta and Ronaldo cannot go without another glimpse of the stunning elastico that the Brazilian performed on the Italian in the final of the 1998 UEFA Cup. It must be seen to be believed, and that it is simply one of a conveyor belt of timeless moments of astonishing genius that Ronaldo enthralled us with during his career tells you a lot about his greatness, and why an entire generation looks up to him as The Phenomenon. Watch that move here, and pay attention, because you will read below about how Zinedine Zidane has spoken volumes about how that move defined the player that Ronaldo was.

“I never played with him at his best, but he was still (bloody) good. He was unbelievable. In his first few years for the national team and for Barcelona and all the other teams he played for, he was just phenomenal. (He had) absolute blistering speed and strength, two feet, mesmerizing foot speed, he was just a blur, he’d be that fast. Even in training, he showed more than enough to convince me that I would have loved to play with him at his peak.”
— Michael Owen

“The Brazilian Ronaldo was the best player I played with. [ . . . ] The goal I scored against Fulham (during the 2002/3 season, when van Nistelrooy carried the ball from the half-line before scoring a neat finish), which was exceptional for me, for him it was more like his standard. His natural ability was far beyond anything that I’ve played alongside.”
— Ruud van Nistelrooy

“Ronaldo, the phenomenon, was the greatest player I have ever coached.”
— Fabio Capello

“What made Ronaldo different was his sheer physical strength. He is the best I have played with.”
— Luis Figo

“If we are talking about singular players, Ronaldo is one of the most singular ones. He can get no ball for the whole match and determine the match with one action of his.”
— Vicente del Bosque

“He hardly helps the defense of the team, he isolates himself sometimes, but he has a virtue that is priceless and that’s why he’s Ronaldo.”
— Vicente del Bosque

“I saw Ronaldo play better a few times in Spain when at Barcelona and I was playing for Atlético Madrid [between 1996-9], and he was still in unbelievable shape when we met him at Madrid. He was just an outstanding player.”
— Quinton Fortune
(about Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2002-3 season)

“What a game – Ronaldo was marvellous. His third goal was a tremendous strike and you can’t legislate for someone who produces moments like that.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson
(about Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2002-3 season)

“Ronaldo destroyed us. Raúl was out with appendicitis, so the big man was up front on his own. The whole crowd got to their feet and gave the bloke the kind of ovation a United player would have got. The Manchester crowd knows its football and knew they’d been privileged to be there, watching Ronaldo play. I felt really proud of them in a different way that night, watching their reaction as Ronaldo walked off with his hands above his head, clapping back.”
— David Beckham
(about Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2002-3 season)

“When he left the field of play almost every United fan stood up and clapped their hands, because of course what Ronaldo did in that match was something very special.”
— Pierluigi Collina
(about Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2002-3 season)

“If Ronaldo had not had those several knee injuries, we would probably be talking about a player — I don’t know on the same level as Maradona or Cruyff — but very close to them.” 
— Emilio Butragueno
(before the 2002 FIFA World Cup)

“He creates a goal-scoring opportunity where it doesn’t exist. He needs no one to score; most strikers need the midfielders and their team-mates, but he does not. You give him the ball and he’ll score. He is so great with the ball, he is a phenomenon.”
— Emilio Butragueno

“A decisive player. It does not matter where he receives the ball. 50 meters from goal? It does not matter. In the last 25 meters there is no player like him in the world, with his demolishing finishing capacity.” 
— Emilio Butragueno

“He’s the best finisher the world has ever seen and it’s difficult to see another like him. It’s not like he just shoots, he knows where to send the ball, he knows what he wants to do when he faces the goal. Of modern players, he’s the most skilled when it comes to goal-scoring.”
— Jose Antonio Camacho

“Ronaldo Nazário was, without doubt, the best striker I’ve ever seen. What I saw him do was spectacular, and that was having come to the club after a World Cup and having been sidelined for two years before that with a knee injury.”
— Michel Salgado

“Without hesitation, Ronaldo is the best player I ever played with. He had such an ease with the ball. He is number one. Every day I trained with him, I saw something different, something new, something beautiful. That’s what makes the difference between a very good player, and the exception, who, for me, is Ronaldo.”
Zinedine Zidane

“He was the best of all time, The Phenomenon. Before defenders and goalkeepers could understand what he will do, he was already far away.”
— Zinedine Zidane

“He was a one-off in terms of ability and had the skill to turn a half-chance into an incredible goalscoring opportunity. He was phenomenal when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Those who saw him play know what I’m talking about. It’s not easy to put it into words, but I’m not exaggerating by any means.”
— Zinedine Zidane

“There are many things I like about Ronaldo, but I will never forget the UEFA Cup final of 1998, against Lazio. Down the left flank, that move against Alessandro Nesta. That gesture that I am talking about is a little dribble that in my opinion defines his whole game. A few players can do it, usually Brazilians, but not as fast as Ronaldo did it in that game.”
— Zinedine Zidane

“For me the most impressive thing about Ronaldo is that he knows what he will do before he receives the ball. This is the best asset of a player like Ronaldo.”
— Zinedine Zidane

“In terms of technique Ronaldo is the best. Nobody is better than him.”
— Zinedine Zidane

“I think he has an innate talent, he is like Maradona. Ronaldo was born with it and perfected it in his hood, in a Brazilian team and then in Europe. But his talent was there from the beginning. It was just a matter of time.”
— Zinedine Zidane

“I’ve always seen Ronaldo as the best [ . . . ]. He’s probably the best player I ever played with. He did what he wanted with the ball and didn’t have any weaknesses. When he decided to express himself with the ball, he did whatever he wanted. Technically, no player has impressed me more than Ronaldo. On a good day, it was impossible to stop him.”
— Zinedine Zidane

“There was no system or tactics that could stop him. It’s like that with a few players and he was one of them – he was fast and skilled. When Ronaldo had the ball, he ran at 2000 miles per hour. In most cases, you’re fast without the ball. He was fast with it.”
— Zinedine Zidane

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10 thoughts on “Quotes on: Ronaldo “Il Fenomeno” Luis Nazario de Lima

  1. Hi, can I borrow some of these quotes to use for my new IG profile. It’s basically a fansite for all supporters of R9 plus some pics of all his boots that he used during his careeer. Awesome facts by the way.

    Like

  2. Imho, ronaldo luis nazario de lima is the footballer ever. The only reason I love watching a whole 90 min football games when he in it. Im 39 years old & i watched him played since he was at barcelona. He still my Idol forever. Thanks admin for the great articles. Pls let me share this.

    Like

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