A jealous Romario went to extreme lengths one night to sabotage Ronaldo taking his place in Brazil’s starting lineup

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

Brazil legend Ronaldo has revealed an astonishing tactic his former teammate Romario employed to prevent him from securing his place in the starting lineup for their country. To prevent Ronaldo taking his spot on the team, the veteran striker took the young Ronaldo under his wing and exploited his trust. How did one of Brazil’s greatest striking pair come to have such an unknown rivalry on Ronaldo’s behalf?

Ronaldo and Romario were undoubtedly two of Brazil’s finest footballing exports, showcasing exceptional talent from an early age. Their partnership on the field would be nothing short of remarkable, with fans mesmerised by their skill, flair, and goal-scoring prowess. But behind the scenes, Romario’s competitive spirit pushed him to think outside the box.

In 1997, Ronaldo was recognised as Brazil’s brightest star, poised to lead his nation into the upcoming World Cup. At this point, Romario hatched his devious plan to get an edge over his young teammate. Instead of providing words of wisdom, Romario decided to tire out Ronaldo physically and mentally by leading him into the wild nightlife of Brazil.

Ronaldo wins the Ballon d’Or in 1997.

“He had already won the Ballon d’Or, and during the training retreat for the Copa America, Romario suddenly told me: ‘Get ready, we go out tonight, don’t worry,'” Ronaldo recounted. It was a night that would change the course of events.

Under Romario’s influence, Ronaldo found himself caught up in a whirlwind of parties, with the clock striking 5am as they stumbled back to their hotel. The cunning Romario had orchestrated this escapade to wear Ronaldo down, leaving him drained and exhausted the next day during training.

While the plan may have seemed cunning to Romario, it was not without consequences. Ronaldo’s mother, who had always been protective of her son’s well-being, was not pleased with Romario’s antics. She could see through the ploy and perceived it as a sinister attempt to dethrone her son from the starting lineup.

Despite this, Ronaldo refused to harbour any resentment towards his fellow forward. “I learned a lot from Romario and Bebeto,” he said, acknowledging the positive aspects of their relationship. However, he didn’t shy away from admitting that Romario could be a bit of a “motherf***er” at times, exerting his seniority by making young players clean his boots or fetch him coffee.

Romario was well known for his late-night partying.

While Romario’s partying tactics aimed to secure more game time for himself, it only added to Ronaldo’s determination to prove himself on the pitch. The incident became pivotal in Ronaldo’s career, fueling his drive to succeed and solidify his position as Brazil’s leading football star.

Even though Romario’s sneaky plan may have briefly unsettled Ronaldo, it didn’t take away from his respect for his teammate’s ability. Romario’s brilliance on the field was undeniable, and Ronaldo saw him as an inspiration despite the turbulent tactics they experienced off the pitch.

In retrospect, the Ronaldo-Romario duo remains an iconic partnership highlighting the complex nature of relationships at the highest level. The competitive nature of the sport sometimes drives players to extraordinary lengths to gain an advantage over their peers, even if it means pulling pranks or resorting to unusual tactics.

The pair created a deadly partnership for Brazil.

Romario’s attempt to tire out the young Ronaldo may have been a crafty move. Still, Ronaldo’s resilience and skill ultimately cemented his legacy as one of football’s all-time greats.

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