Ronaldo recalls his seizure before ‘98 World Cup final

Ronaldo Nazário has a busy agenda at the best of times, and even more so when he also has a new documentary to promote. But the Brazilian legend was happy to sit down with AS for a few minutes To talk about it E Classico, the World Cup, Vinicius, Benzema and the Ballon d’Or as well as his latest project. His new documentary The phenomenon (DAZN) premiered at Callao Cinemas last night Madrid ahead of the world premiere next Friday, October 21st. Life may be hectic right now, but ronaldoas always, smiling and happy to chat.

How’s it going?

Well! It treats me well! To tell the truth everything is perfect. It’s been a tough year with two promotions (Valladolid and Cruzeiro), I’m very happy but I have a lot of work… Today (yesterday) was a really nice day for the premiere of the documentary, but also a long day.

Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima and The phenomenon. What is the history of your nickname?

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The original nickname comes from Italy. It would be in Italian Il Fenomeno, but whatever you want… I accepted it with great enthusiasm, but I must confess that at the same time it put me under a lot of pressure for many years! (laughs)

What were you called when you were a child?

father. That was the nickname my brothers gave me. It was the first word I could pronounce, so it stayed. Today I use it for my online video game competitions. I’m a huge fan.

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What mysteries will be the new documentary The phenomenon revealed about Ronaldo who nobody knows?

There are many anecdotes in it that have never been published before and I am sure you will enjoy it. Above all, there is a lot of drama. From the World Cup final in France in 1998 with what happened all day until we got to the stadium… The game, the final lost to France… Back when I thought it was going to get better, she got injured later worse…

“The airport is without a doubt the place in the world where I feel most vulnerable”


What happened that day? were you close to death

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Well… I used to go to sleep before every game and woke up shortly after, surrounded by everyone in my room… There they told me what had happened to me. The famous seizure didn’t scare me because I was thinking about the final and I wanted to play it. When I was taken to the hospital, we took great care to do all the necessary tests to stay calm. After health problems were ruled out, I ran to the stadium. I wanted to play… It was a World Cup final! How could I miss it!

Was it the hardest episode or the limit of your career?

Yes. Especially since it was the beginning of the internet age. Information spread very quickly. And we’ve learned from all of that. As you know, the World Cup is a huge event and is followed around the world. So yes, it was very difficult.

Ronaldo chats with AS

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Ronaldo chats with AS

Brazil lost that final, but they won two World Cups…

Yes. It’s all about this. I am telling the story of my entire career with the drama of injuries, recovery, being at risk of not being able to play football… My injury was very serious. There was no background, story or clues on how to cure it… And yes. In the end we won the World Cup in Korea and Japan, although I had very bad memories of France. This experience scared me, but hey, I found solutions along the way. We tell everything in the film.

We also heard about your fear of airports. Are you still suffering from this?

It’s something I always carry with me. The airport is the place in the world where I feel most vulnerable. I’m in a position where I’m known around the world so I still carry a bit of the trauma but most of all I like being with people whenever I can. It’s true that it was crazy at first. And when I was playing we weren’t very protected either… The truth is they just threw us in there, in the middle of the crowd! (laughs). But now, yes, years later, we’re trying to find solutions to escape the crowd.

“Real Madrid have a small advantage in Clásico because they are at home”


It is El Classico On Sunday! Who do you think will win?

El Classico is El Classico. Real Madrid have the advantage of playing at home. They have a brilliant team – like Barça, who are a great side again this season. I already suffered against them with my team at the Camp Nou; even if they beat us 4-0… I think Real Madrid have a little advantage because they play at the Bernabéu. It will be a nice game to watch.

Should Vinicius keep dancing?

Yes. I think Vinicius needs to keep dancing. It was a completely unnecessary controversy, as I explained in a tweet. His dance doesn’t bother anyone. His dance doesn’t kill anyone. Sometimes I’ve done celebrations with dances… I’ve done this bunny celebration, silly celebrations… It doesn’t matter! It’s such a special moment that needs to be enjoyed. But no racism. Racism Kills. Racism rules out. We have to fight against that.

One last question. At the gala on Monday, Karim Benzema will be the next Ballon d’Or. Earned?

Yes. Totally deserved.

Thank you for your time and good luck for the premiere of The phenomenon.

Many thanks.


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