Remembering when Ronaldo Nazario suffered a horrific knee injury six minutes into comeback

Ronaldo Nazario was a footballer like no other.

Blessed with incredible speed, skill, strength and technique, he was arguably the best striker that’s ever lived.

Lionel Messi is just one massive name in football that has recognised the Brazilian’s talent.

“Ronaldo [Nazario] was a phenomenon, Of all the strikers I ever saw, he was the best,” the Barcelona superstar said, per AS. “He was impressive.”

However, injuries prevented him from being the greatest player ever.

Ronaldo suffered two serious knee injuries that saw him stay two years on the sidelines.

In November 1999, Ronaldo was forced off with the first of his serious injuries. It took him five months to return to action.

The Brazilian finally made his comeback against Lazio five months later, on April 12, 2000. But it would all end in tears.

Just six minutes into his return, Ronaldo attempted one of his trademark step overs on the edge of the box. 

But he collapsed in a heap as he suffered one of the most horrific knee injuries football has ever seen.

Lazio immediately kicked the ball out of play and teammates from both sides sprinted to Ronaldo’s aid.

Diego Simmone, playing for Lazio and one of Ronaldo’s former teammates, was among the most distraught.

Ronaldo was eventually stretchered off to a round of applause from both sets of fans.

One of the saddest, if not the saddest moment in football history.

Nilton Petrone, Ronaldo’s physio at the time, told FourFourTwo how his injury was the worst he’s ever seen.

“When he returned for that match, he ripped the knee-cap tendon completely,” he said. “His knee-cap actually exploded and it ended up in the middle of his thigh.

“If I showed you the photos I have from this case you wouldn’t believe it. Right after the surgery his knee was the size of a football ball. There were three or four tubes draining the blood, it was something unbelievable.

“We had a few moments at the hospital when he was crying because he wanted morphine to stop the intensity of pain.

“One day in the middle of the night he called me and asked: “tell me I am going to be able to play football again, please don’t lie to me”.

“I was there, at the beginning of a rehabilitation when the whole world was saying that he wouldn’t be able to.

“The science said it was unlikely and the doctors had doubts. I had a unique experience and I thank God for having the opportunity to overcome that with him and that helped me a lot professionally.”

Fortunately, Ronaldo would eventually return to action seven months later. And in 2002, he would lead Brazil to the World Cup final.

What a comeback.

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