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Ronaldo by James Mosley

Release date: 22nd March, 2006
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing

List Price: £15.99
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There are some footballers who, once they leave a club, are invariably welcomed back by supporters who remember and appreciate the efforts they made for their former team. Think Phil Neville, now in the blue of Everton, returning to Old Trafford, or Ray Parlour, once of Arsenal, now at Middlesbrough.

Then there are others, such as Bellamy, Bowyer, Savage and Rooney, a list which is comfortably longer, who are booed by fans as soon as they set foot off the team coach once it pulls into the car park at their former home clubs.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why this is the case? My theory is that fans hate being betrayed by players they have previously backed to the hilt, which probably means that when Ronaldo moves to Chelsea in the summer, Real Madrid supporters are unlikely to provide him with a rapturous welcome when he next returns to the Bernabeu.

Such a reaction is unlikely to bother the big Brazilian: he is hated in Barcelona because he left them for Inter Milan whereas the Milanese dislike him because he was lured by Real Madrid's open cheque book. Yet this is a reaction which began only when Ronaldo finally moved on to the biggest stage; as he served his apprenticeship in Brazil, supporters, according to James Mosley, seemed content just to watch him progress.

Mosley has done a fine job charting Ronaldo's inexorable rise. From his modest beginnings at Sao Cristovao in Rio, to Belo Horizonte where he played for Cruzeiro FC, there was a sense that his subsequent move to Europe and PSV Eindhoven was inevitable. Yet few supporters begrudged such progress, believing instead that Ronaldo's intercontinental move inevitably augured well for the national side. Their belief was well-founded.

To call this a comprehensive biography is an understatement. Mosley has left no stone unturned in charting the career of one of the world's greatest footballing talents, although it is disappointing that no direct contact with the great man proved possible. Instead, as the book's blurb tells us, "James Mosley has been given exclusive access to the footballer's close management and advisers who have shared with him their experiences with the player over the last ten years."

Unfortunately, it is they who "reveal the inside story of [Ronaldo's] explosive impact on the world game at Barcelona in 1997" and the 'mysterious events' surrounding the World Cup Final in 1998.

Nevertheless, Mosley deserves credit for unearthing other snippets of information which give the narrative pace and result in eyebrows being raised more than once.

For example, Ronaldo was rejected by his first senior club because he could not afford the bus fare in order to return for a second day of assessment. Commercial and other matters were a tad different by the time he had burst onto the Brazilian football scene and details of Ronaldo's successive blondes is breathtaking if only for the number he went out with.

Ultimately, however, this is a fine biography of a footballer who is now nearing the end of his career, one likely to be booed at a number of grounds, applauded at others. However, one suspects that, given the amount of money Ronaldo has made not just from the game itself , but from a succession of lucrative merchandising and sponsorship deals (most of which are detailed here), he probably won't be too fussed about the level of stick he will invariably take from fans who may feel betrayed by his earlier departures.


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