Four months after announcing his retirement, Brazilian football legend Ronaldo took to the pitch with the national team for the final time in a friendly match against Romania.
The green—and—gold won Tuesday’s match 1—0, but the striker known as “The Phenomenon” failed to score during his 15 minutes of playing time. Ronaldo retired with a career total of 67 goals in 104 games for the national team and the 2002 World Cup title.
Visibly tired and even heavier than when he had announced his retirement, Ronaldo had three chances to score. Romanian goalkeeper Tatarunasu frustrated two of his shots while the faded star sent a third kick far wide despite a perfect pass in front of the net from Robinho.
“I really thought I’d be able to put the ball in the net, but the goalie rose to the defence,” Ronaldo said. “Everyone wanted to help me score, except for the goalkeeper, but that doesn’t matter. I scored the goals that were important.” His farewell performance brought a thundering ovation from the crowd at Pacaembu stadium when he entered the game at 30 minutes into the first half from the locker room.
At the close of the half, a weary Ronaldo was congratulated by the Romanian players, and Argentine referee Sergio Pezzotta gave him his whistle and the game ball.
“The Phenomenon” took a victory lap around the stadium with his two sons, walking slowly and throwing kisses to the adoring crowd.
“I feel tremendous pride to be Brazilian and to have been part of all this,” he told television cameras while wrapped in the national flag.
Later, he took to the stage erected in the centre of the pitch and apologized for failing to score in his final appearance.
“Thank you for all that you have done for me during my career, for accepting me as I am, for crying when I cried, for smiling when I smiled,” he said. “This is a grand emotion, my god.”