The day before the 1998 World Cup Final, Ronaldo Nazario was in his room getting ready for the most important game of his career up to that point, as he had the chance to become a world champion. He went into the bathroom to shave his head and then his teammate Roberto Carlos found him convulsed laying on the floor.
A few minutes before the start of the game, it was not clear if Ronaldo would be able to play. He spent the evening in the hospital and arrived to the stadium by himself. He ended up starting the game and France lifted the title well deserved. Still today we do not really know what happened to Ronaldo, as the medical tests showed that everything was correct. The most likely diagnosis? A panic attack.
Mental health is not a taboo anymore nowadays, but so there are many times as well where everything is white or black. Failure or glory. Win or do not come back. When someone thinks about old legends, he realizes how hard is to win a World Cup and the sacrifices that someone can be willing to do just to reach the sky one simple time.
Glass illusions faded away with steel critics:
To think of Ronaldo Nazario is to think of a real winner in the history of the World Cups. He has been a world champion twice and one of them being the top scorer of the tournament. In fact, he was the all time top scorer until very recently. The reality is very different.
In his own words, Ronaldo is unable to look back and see himself represented by the nickname ‘Phenomenon’. His dream was also his torture for many years.
Another example is the documentary ‘Be eternal’ on the Copa America that Argentina won back in 2021. It will go down in history for things as Messi’s speech before the final against Brazil, but also for the social story from a country and a crowd that take the demand to his national team to the limit. When someone sees the tears from Di María or Messi also sees a mixture between happiness and suffering.
After more than four years, the World Cup Final will be held on Sunday. The game that many dream of playing and only a few can win. The game that has left us with unforgettable memories of winners and losers. All of them will go down in history.
To not remember the losers is to want to erase the history. Cruyff and his ‘Mechanical Orange’, the heroical Croatia from 2018, the injury of Neymar in 2014 and the win of Germany afterwards or the missed penalty by Roberto Baggio, the man that died standing up. They are all history of the World Cups.
This is the last World Cup for a legendary generation of players. Their tears, dreams and in the case of some of them, the horrible feeling of having been on verge of the cup, are left throughout the path. To be a world champion is only within range for a few chosen one.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Twitter @fifaworldcup_es.