They said he would need a miracle to get back to his best. A two-year career-threatening injury left many wondering whether the Brazilian son would ever rediscover his former magic. But the doubters had reckoned without Ronaldo's belief. The return of the Fenomeno to the world's biggest football stage in Asia was so spectacular, it seemed touched by divine intervention. The winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year 2002 spoke exclusively to FIFA.com about his fantastic summer and those glorious goals.
What does it mean to win this award for a third time, five
years after you last won it?
It's just great to be among the best players in the world again. I thought it was possible after the World Cup because being the star of important competitions always opens the door to these types of awards.
Who in your opinion also deserves a mention this
Many players deserve to be included but so do the shortlisted players. Kahn had a great year and was so difficult to beat.
What was your best goal at the FIFA World Cup?
The two in the Final were the most important, as you can imagine.
And were they the best goals in your career?
Yes, it has to be these goals in the Final. They meant so much.
When you ran onto the ball after Kahn had saved
Rivaldo's shot for your first goal in the Final, what thoughts
passed through your mind?
I had been having bad thoughts thinking it wasn't going to be my day again in the Final. Oliver Kahn had made some good saves already in the match. But then when I scored the goal, I felt much more relaxed.
What about the goal against Turkey, which many people
consider a stunner?
It was a difficult move because my way was blocked. Nobody expected me to do it. It's a difficult technique to shoot the ball with the point of the toe and you don't see many players try it. But it was just instinctive and I owe it to playing a lot of futsal when I was younger.
You scored in each of the first four games, along with
Rivaldo. Were you thinking about Jairzinho's record in Mexico
1970 of scoring a goal in every game?
No, not at all. I didn't think about breaking records or of anything else, and I'm sure Rivaldo didn't either. I just wanted to score goals so we could win matches. The main thing on my mind was to the win the World Cup for a record fifth time.
When you score goals, what do you think about?
It gives me the happiest feeling in the world. I just love scoring. It doesn't matter if it's a simple goal from close range, a long shot or a dribble around several players, I just love to score all goals.
After France 98 and the injuries, did you ever believe in
such joy four years later?
I just wanted to play and prepare myself physically to be in the best shape to play. But I had to remain positive.
Was there a moment when you were close to giving up hope?
What made you keep your faith?
I'm in love with football, but I just needed to recapture that strength to train and play. So many people helped me along the way that I'm afraid to leave anyone out. Above all, though, I want to mention the help of my medical team that has been working alongside me for the past two years.
What part did Brazil's coach (Luiz Felipe Scolari) play
in your recovery?
When I wasn't fully recovered, he believed in me and told me I would be part of the squad. This was really important in the final stage of my recovery as it gave me that extra mental strength. I will always be grateful for the faith he showed in me. I hope he returns to coach Brazil one day.