Ronaldo recalls seizure before 1998 World Cup final

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Ronaldo of Brazil with his back to the camera during the match against France in the Tournoi De France in Lyon, France
Photo: Getty Images

Brazil legend Ronaldo has given insight into his seizure on the morning of the 1998 World Cup final.

The 1998 World Cup final was supposed to be the night when Ronaldo cemented his status as one of football's all-time greats.

At just 21 years of age, he was already the world's most expensive footballer and a Ballon d'Or winner predicted to lead Brazil to glory at the World Cup.

O Fenômeno had just scored 34 goals in his debut season at Inter Milan and played a vital role in helping Brazil reach the 1998 final against the host nation France.

There, it seemed, the stage was set for him to fire his side, widely regarded as favourites, to success.

However, his hopes were dashed just hours before the final when he suffered a seizure and was pulled out of the starting line-up.

Though he ended up starting for Mario Zagallo's team at the Stade de France, Ronaldo appeared like a shell of his former self as Zinedine Zidane inspired France to a 3-0 victory.

Speaking to AS ahead of the premiere of his new biopic "The Phenomenon: The Rise, Fall & Redemption of Ronaldo", the two-time World Cup winner explained:

I went to take a nap as usual before each match and woke up shortly after surrounded by everyone in my room. There they told me what had happened to me.

The famous seizure didn't scare me because I was thinking about the final and I wanted to play it.

When I was taken to hospital, we took great care to do all the necessary tests to be calm. Once any health problem was ruled out, I ran to the stadium. I wanted to play. It was a World Cup final! How could I miss it!

Asked if it was the hardest episode or his career, Ronaldo replied:

Yes. Especially since it was the beginning of the internet era. Information travelled very fast.

And we were learning from all of this. As you know, the World Cup is a huge event and is followed all over the globe. So yes, it was very hard.

For Ronaldo, however, there was a happy ending to the story. Four years later, he appeared in another World Cup final, scoring both goals for Brazil as they beat Germany in Tokyo.

He retired from playing in 2011 and has gone down in history as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

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