He was always a step behind | india | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Apr 20, 2018-Friday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

He was always a step behind

The buck-toothed smile had turned into a grin, the sprint into a saunter and the prominent girth into a humongous one.

india Updated: Jun 15, 2006 02:56 IST

The buck-toothed smile had turned into a grin, the sprint into a saunter and the prominent girth into a humongous one. The Ronaldo on show in Berlin on Tuesday was slow, sluggish and unimpressive.

In the run-up to Brazil’s World Cup opener against Croatia, his genius had been overshadowed by his ever-increasing girth, his skill by his newly acquired irritability and his popularity by “little Ronaldo” — that is, Ronaldinho.

Even Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had called to express his concern over his weight.

“I need to be loved,” Ronaldo had beseeched the Brazilian media and fans before the game.

The last time he had been placed in a similar quagmire — at the 2002 World Cup — he had stolen everyone’s thunder, his silken touch handing him the Golden Boot.

So on Tuesday, everyone waited for a special Ronaldo performance — his trademark reply whenever under pressure. Sadly, they were left disappointed. In the 69 minutes he spent on the pitch, he was a pale silhouette of his former self. The only shot from him was off target.

His teammates too seemed dissatisfied, if not by his performance, then by a seeming lack of effort, a failure to break into a sweat.

Kaka, Tuesday’s hero, said: “Ronaldo has said he has not reached his ideal level of fitness. So let us wait until he improves his performance. But, yes, a little more movement from him would be ideal.”

Even opposition defenders, who used to quiver in their boots at the mere thought of containing Ronaldo, have now developed the cheek to demean him.

After the match, Croatia's Robert Kovac said: "I don't know what happened with him. He doesn't run, he just stays up front. He must be tired. He had one shot. He didn't touch the ball. He was very easy to play against today."

Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, however, retains faith in the prodigal striker, naming him for Sunday's match against Australia.

So, will Ronaldo turn things around in Munich or is it time the burden of all expectations is transferred on to "little Ronaldo"?