Ronaldo Nazario: Desailly and Thuram's comments before '98 WC shows how scary he was

Ronaldo Nazario at the 1998 World Cup

Ronaldo Nazario was at his peak around the time of the 1998 World Cup.

The Brazilian forward had just come off the back of a superb first season at Inter Milan where he scored 34 goals in 47 games.

Having won the Ballon d’Or six months prior, he was arguably the best player in the world going into the tournament in France.

And he showed why that was the case during the World Cup.

His brilliance, where he scored four goals, led Brazil to the final.

Their opponents would be tournament hosts, France.

Two of France’s starting defenders – Lilian Thuram and Marcel Desailly – knew Ronaldo very well.

Thuram, then at Parma and Desailly, then at AC Milan, had both played against the Brazilian that very season.

Ronaldo during the '98 World Cup final vs France

Footage captured them discussing Ronaldo before the World Cup final.

Despite being two of the greatest defenders of their generation, they had no shame in admitting that Ronaldo embarrassed them when they came up against him.

When speaking about Ronaldo’s famous stepovers, Desailly said: “He did it to me at Milan. I didn’t see the ball. Whether he goes right of left, you don’t see the ball.”

Desailly then imitates Ronaldo’s quick feet and adds: “Where’s the ball? It’s magic.”

Thuram then added: “He stays there like that. You look down and the ball is gone.”

Watch the clip below, it makes for fascinating viewing:

Thuram and Desailly did think they knew the trick to stopping Ronaldo, though, and they shared their wisdom with Frank Leboeuf.

“The first thing is don’t get right on him,” Thuram said. “Don’t get too close. You know what he does? He uses you.

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“He waits and as he’s big he can turn. So what you do is you stop him turning. When he turns he’s dangerous.”

Desailly added: “Tackle him if someone’s behind you or be ready to take off in the opposite direction.”

The duo proved they had the answers as France won the final 3-0. Ronaldo, despite not scoring in the final, was named player of the tournament.

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