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  • Writer's pictureChristos Davos

Sports Stories: What happened in 1998 to the "Phenomenon"?

Today, July 12, 1998, marks 25 years since France defeated Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final and were crowned World Champions for the first time in their history. However, apart from Zinedine Zidane's great performance, the Paris final has gone down in history for what happened to Brazil's big star Ronaldo, who appeared in the match and produced the worst performance in the Seleção colors. From the health issue... to theories which are still "alive" and continue the legend of this specific case...

Ronaldo at that time was the big star, the football player that the whole football world was waiting to see in the tournament, bewitching with his triples and scoring in a unique way as only he knows how. Something that the "phenomenon" finally manages to achieve and lead Brazil to the grand final and help them keep the "sceptre" for another four years.

However, a few hours before the final, specifically on the morning of July 12, the calm atmosphere of the team was broken by the voices of Roberto Carlos who saw his teammate who was in the same room having convulsions and foaming at the mouth. The team doctor rushed to his aid as did several of his teammates and as soon as Ronaldo was able to communicate, he went to the hospital for tests.

The results were clear, however, there were several in the team who did not want to see Ronaldo play as the hotel incident was shocking and they did not want to play with their teammate's health. So, as soon as the lineup was announced, the team's big "weapon" was absent. The journalists were shocked, while Ronaldo himself just learned that he will be out of the lineup, he was looking for the coach and with the tests in his hands it showed that he was fine and could compete.

In fact, Brazil never warmed up before the match, as in the dressing room there was an effervescence with opinions divided. In the end, Zagallo decided to have Ronaldo play, as for fear of losing and public opinion, once he learned that Ronaldo was medically fit to play, he didn't want to take the blame on him and not start him.

Unfortunately for Brazil, both Ronaldo and the team were out, the incident had affected them all and the 3-0 loss to France came easily. This led the sports fan world to try to figure out what happened and many scenarios began to develop.

One of the most widespread was that Nike pushed the mission to have Ronaldo compete, as it was his sponsor and it was impossible not to advertise in the final. However, this was denied by the company. Another theory was that an injection given to his knee by the team doctor led him to suffer an allergic shock. However, nothing could ever be proven.

However, Ronaldo himself remembers saying: "I went to rest after dinner and the last thing I remember is lying in bed. After that, I had convulsions. I found myself surrounded by players and the doctor Lidio Toledo. They didn't want to say what had happened. I asked them if they could leave and go somewhere else to talk because I wanted to sleep. Leonardo told me to go for a walk in the garden of the hotel and there he explained to me what had happened and how I would not play in the final. But all the necessary tests showed nothing unusual, it was as if nothing had happened.

When we got to the stadium, I found out that I will not play, while I had all the tests in my hands and with Dr. Toledo has given the green light. I approached Zagalos and told him that I am fine and I feel good. Here are the results, they are fine, I want to play. I gave him no alternative and he had to respect my wish. I played and maybe I affected the whole team, since the spasms I had were something scary. You don't see that every day. In any case, I had an obligation to my country, my pride, and I felt I had to play."


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