Ronaldo’s one year in Catalunya

Josh Challies

Brazilian icon Ronaldo may have become a legend at Real Madrid but his journey to stardom could have been a lot different as he played for Real’s arch-rivals Barcelona six years before moving to the Santiago Bernabeu.

After moving to Europe after the 1994 World Cup, Ronaldo excelled in Holland with PSV Eindhoven and finished his time in the Eredivisie with a phenomenal 54 goals in 58 games – which earned him a lucrative transfer to Barcelona, which was then a world-record at £19.5m.

The South American made his Barcelona debut in the 1996 Spanish Super Cup first-leg against Atletico Madrid, where he made an instant impression by scoring two goals in a 5-2 victory – alongside some very familiar names.

Remarkably, nine members of Sir Bobby Robson’s squad for the 5-2 victory over Atletico Madrid have gone on to become managers, five of whom have led international sides ranging from Bulgaria to Spain, whilst Nadal and Giovanni have other roles in football.

The 1996 Super Cup-winning side has had a lasting impact on football and Robson’s management likely played a huge part in their successes at managerial level – but it’s easy to wonder how much they might have achieved had Ronaldo stayed at the club.

After just one year in Catalonia, Ronaldo moved to Inter Milan amidst financial problems with a contract negotiation and returned to Spanish football after winning the World Cup in 2002, becoming a legend at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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