Ronaldo was loved by Lionel Messi and Rangers made ‘incredible’ offer to sign greatest ever striker in 1997


Europe’s meanest defences would have been reduced to jelly had Rangers landed the signing of the century in 1997.

Ronaldo – the original and arguably best one – could have shared the pitch with Paul Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup and Gennaro Gattuso, but opted for the black and blue of Inter instead.

Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time

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Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time

On his 43rd birthday, talkSPORT remembers just how good he was and the just how big of a deal the signing would have been.

Ronaldo had just completed his first season at Barcelona and at 20, was the World Player of the Year, but he was unhappy with his deal at the Camp Nou.

Any club willing to buy out the remainder of his contract, which was worth £20million, were free to sign him.

Speaking in 2016, his agent Giovanni Branchini recalled: “The clause in his contract was a novelty at the time and it scared a lot of clubs off.

Instead of Rangers, Ronaldo moved to Inter when Serie A was considered the best league in the world


Instead of Rangers, Ronaldo moved to Inter when Serie A was considered the best league in the world

“The three who were really interested were Inter, Lazio and Glasgow Rangers, who followed negotiations all the way.

“The offer from Glasgow Rangers was incredible.

“They told us he didn’t have to play on a Saturday in the Scottish League. They were desperate to win the Champions League and were going to allow him to play in the European matches only.

“But Inter had followed him from when he used to play in Brazil. Barcelona reneged on a new contract and Inter were the first club to meet the release clause, so he went there.”

The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be…

Everyone was in awe of Ronaldo – even Zlatan!

Lionel Messi: “Ronaldo was my hero. He was the best forward I’ve ever seen. He was so fast that he could score a goal from nothing and he struck the ball better than anyone I’ve seen.”

Zinedine Zidane: “When Ronaldo had the ball, he ran at 2,000 miles per hour”

Marcel Desailly: “I’ve never seen a player able to show such precise control at such high speed,”

Fabio Cannavaro: “For my generation he was what Maradona or Pele were for the previous ones. He was unmarkable. At the first check you passed, the second burned you, the third humiliated you. He looked like an extraterrestrial.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “As a young player I watched him and said to myself ‘I want to be exactly like that’… the player who makes the difference, the shining light, simple as that.”

At Inter, he ended up scoring 59 goals in 99 games and won the UEFA Cup in his first season at the club and was also a World Cup winner during his time as an Inter player before heading to Real Madrid in 2002.

His first attempt at glory with Brazil ended in failure in 1998 when the 21-year-old hotshot suffered convulsions, however, the big man had a better scriptwriter four years later. ‘El Fenomeno’ found redemption in 2002, scoring twice in the final against Germany as he also won the Golden Boot with eight goals and Brazil lifted their fifth World Cup.

Fast, strong, balanced, with a cushioned touch and a deadly finish with either foot or bonce – the mind boggles as to what he might have achieved had Ronaldo remained injury free and his knees intact.

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