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Who wants to eat crow now?

india Updated: Jun 24, 2006 01:40 IST
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Highlight Story

ALL THOSE of you who've had the patience and loyalty to read my articles during this World Cup would've realised that the tone wasn't exactly cheerful.

For one reason or another, controversy has surrounded me as an individual as well as my selection for the team. And I've had to repeatedly talk about these matters in my articles.

But today I'm going to write about two goals —  two goals that have put me up there with Gerd Müller and got me past the record of Pelé. More importantly, the goals helped us regain control of a match that we began precariously.

After our big win, it will be easy to say that we had a good day, but it certainly didn't begin that way. In the morning, I was told that some information relating to my weight had filtered out to the media.             

In the evening, a Web page posted a news item that said Ronaldo would not be included in the team for the match against Japan. At night, Ronaldo was instrumental in his team's victory and scored two goals. No comment.

It’ll be easy for me to take a shot at my critics now, but as a player who has lost two years through injury, I know time is of enormous value in soccer, as in life.

For this reason, whenever critics have spoken out against me, I've always believed that things will eventually change for the better and thus never lost my patience. I was conscious that my physical fitness would be below par after having spent almost two months without playing a game, but I also knew that it would improve. Finally, the improvement has come about and already it seems I am thinner and more handsome!

Admittedly, I needed those goals. I know they will help me relax for the rest of the competition and take the pressure off me. Obviously, my main aim, like everyone else's in the team, is to conquer the title and it has remained constant. But now I think everyone else will also believe that, and all criticisms relating to me as an individual will more or less disappear and people will focus on the football. We began with quite a loose game, but Brazil traditionally grows stronger as the competition goes on, and against Japan we demonstrated the kind of teamwork that will definitely lead us to greater heights.

Now, Ghana await us in the last eight. I take advantage of this temporary break to comment on the results so far, some of which have come as a surprise. The elimination of the Czech Republic is an example. In Brazil, we viewed this team with much respect not only because it occupied second position in FIFA rankings, but also because they have some extremely talented players.

However, all it takes in the World Cup is one bad day to separate from the following round and that is what happened to them. A similar fate has befallen Croatia, which means the second place in our group goes to Australia. That can certainly be seen as a surprise, but I've to say that in their encounter against us the Australians proved tougher to handle than we had anticipated.  On the rest of the teams that have reached the last 16, I believe they were more or less expected to do so. Someone drew my attention to the fact that Serbia has not earned a single point in this championship. In my opinion, it has the talent to have taken a place in the last 16 from Group C, but perhaps it didn't have enough luck.

I would like to end with a vote of thanks to all my teammates, who have helped me demonstrate that we are a united group. I could have thanked them before this, but I prefer to do it when the going is smooth. I wish to share with them my enormous joy, because it comes after a lot of suffering. I can now enjoy my football again, and though misfortune can never be far away in this unstable world of ours, I pray that we all suffer as little as possible.                            

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