Planet football hails O Fenômeno
© AFP

As part of our regular ‘The things they say’ series, FIFA.com has brought together selections of the choicest phrases ever uttered by such footballing luminaries as Romario, Diego Maradona and Eric Cantona, to name just three. We have decided to mix things up a little in the case of Brazilian goal-getter Ronaldo, who last week announced his retirement, choosing to highlight one of his final statements as an active pro as well as a host of tributes from some of planet football’s biggest names.

“After yet another groin injury, I gave it a lot of thought and decided I’d reached a point where I had nothing more to give and that the sacrifices were too great, something I never thought would happen. Once I’d made the decision it felt as if I was in Intensive Care with a terminal condition, and that this announcement would be like passing away. Giving up something that’s made me so happy is very tough, I’ve always loved the game and would give anything to carry on. But you can’t win them all and I’ve been beaten by my own body.”
Ronaldo

“He’s the best striker I’ve ever seen.”
Lionel Messi

Ronaldo is the man and I don’t care what y'all say. [He’s the] best striker ever, hands down, and anyone who doesn’t agree has problems.”
Jozy Altidore

“He went to Holland, Spain and Italy and enhanced the reputation of Brazilian football in all three countries. He came back home and breathed new life into the Brazilian championship and Corinthians. Brazilian people should be grateful for what he’s done for our football.”
Pele

“He was a one-off in terms of ability and had the skill to turn a half-chance into an incredible goalscoring opportunity. He was phenomenal when one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Those who saw him play know what I’m talking about. It’s not easy to put it into words, but I’m not exaggerating by any means.”
Zinedine Zidane

“I’d like to have played alongside him, because I’d have been able to put him through on goal all the time. He’s always in the right place to receive the ball and he thinks really quickly. It wasn’t by chance that he was the world’s best player on several occasions. He also did his bit for A Seleção, being a part of two World Cup wins and one second place. He even went on to become the highest scorer in World Cup history. That was a phenomenal feat, in keeping with his nickname.”
Zico

“I didn’t need any time to gel when playing alongside Ronaldo. He knew how I played and I knew where he liked to receive the ball. It was very easy to play with him because he was great at finding the right positions both inside and outside the box. As soon as I picked up the ball, he already knew what I was going to do with it.”
Rivaldo

"He was always an example for young people to look up to, for the way he overcame adversity. I was fortunate enough to play alongside him, my idol, for many years and we had so many great times together. He was always an idol of mine and will always be a friend.”
Ronaldinho

“Just as I’d believed he’d be one of the best players in our Seleção back then, I believe that he’s made the right decision now. I understood that if I backed him he’d be an important player for us (in Korea/Japan). I wish him the very best because he remains one of my best and closest friends, and he was a vital player in a triumph that had a huge impact on him and us.”
Luiz Felipe Scolari

“I’m a huge fan of Ronaldo, I’ve followed his career since his time at Barcelona. I once asked my uncle Miguel Angel [Nadal] if I could get a photo with him. So I even got to go in the dressing room and have a photo taken with one of my biggest idols. There’s no doubt that overcoming adversity, making it back to the very top of the game and winning trophies deserves huge credit.”
Rafael Nadal, the tennis superstar whose uncle was a team-mate of Ronaldo’s at Barça

“One of the most talented footballers ever, Ronaldo won two World Cups with A Seleção and remains the leading scorer at World Cup finals. He was already a genuine legend, even while still playing, and exemplified how to overcome adversity. All of us will be eternally grateful for the joy he gave us and what he did to boost Brazil’s prestige.”
Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian President