Why did R9 (Ronaldo De Lima) have an underwhelming CL (Champions League) goal tally compared to greats like Messi and Cristiano?
I have always felt bad hearing today’s kids laughing at Ronaldo de Lima when ever he is mentioned as one of the best the football world has ever seen due to his goal tally in the CL. R9 is a player some football greats even acknowledge of being the better Ronaldo at his peak amongst the two Ronaldo’s (Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldo De Lima).
Well for the kids and fans of the game today who do not know much about R9 (Ronaldo de Lima), here is the full context about him.
• UEFA Cup football in 94/95.
First season in Europe. 2 games, 3 goals. All competitions – 35 goals, 36 games. Team finished 3rd. No CL qualification. He won the league’s golden boot. He was 18.
• UEFA Cup football in 95/96. 5 games, 6 goals.
In all competitions, Ronaldo de Lima scored 19 goals in 21 games. He was injured for a good chunk of the campaign. Only played 13 league games. Scored 12 goals.
It was time for a transfer. He left PSV as a 19-year old, with 54 goals in 57 games
He joined Barcelona for a world record fee. They’d finish the previous season in 3rd place. No CL (Champions League) football.
So he played;
• UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup football in 96/97.
R9 scored 5 goals in 7 games. Winner in final vs PSG
In all competitions, Ronaldo scored 47 goals in 49 games. He won Pichichi.
Take away points
When he won the golden boot by 12 goals in PSV, they didn’t win the league. When he won it by 9 goals in Barcelona, they also didn’t win the league. And winning the league was the only way into CL (Champions League) football.
So, he had 14 goals in 14 European games. A European trophy. 0 CL appearances.
Ronaldo de Lima to Inter Milan
Then he joined Inter Milan for another world record fee. Note the lack of stability. He was joining his fourth league just before he turned 21. All highly competitive, top leagues. 2 world record transfers. Unfazed.
Inter Milan hadn’t won the league since 88/89, so no CL football since 89/90.
So once again, no CL football for R9.
The Serie A was the best league at the time, world’s toughest league, where up to 8 teams had world class ballers.
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He (Ronaldo de Lima) played;
• UEFA Cup football, and he once again won a European trophy. R9 scored 6 goals in 11 games, 2 in the semi, 1 in the final.
He scored 20 goals, 25 European games and won 2 trophies.
Inter Milan finished second but qualified for CL because the rules had now been changed. Non-league winners were allowed in. This (98/99) was to be R9’s first CL campaign ever.
It turned out to be his only CL campaign until 2002, because his knees went that season and he was out for years.
Just to add;
Inter Milan’s only league title for 15 years was 8 years before he arrived. He played only one full season in 5 years. Injured in 4 of those seasons. In that one league season, no CL football because of no league title the year before he arrived.
Second top scorer(25) in Serie A behind Bierohff (27). Inter finished second, 5 points behind Juventus. Ronaldo de Lima scored 11 more goals than the year before. Inter’s top scorer before that year had 14 goals. Before that, 17, 8, 16, 20, 7, 16, 13.
He played 6 CL games that season, scoring 1. He played 90 minutes in only one of those 6 games.
In the tie that eliminated his team (vs Man Utd), he played only 59 minutes out of 180.
From 17th March, 1999 – 22nd October, 2002, R9 played a grand total of 0 CL games.
And the 27, 28 and 29 year old versions of him were nowhere near the pre-injury nightmare Ronaldo.
Just to add that the UEFA Cup was a big deal, not like this watered down version. It consisted of teams who didn’t win their leagues but are top top teams.
In this current era and season, that would mean Man City, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Dortmund, Leipzig, Inter, Chelsea etc would be there battling.
Again, this is all just context. It makes the picture clearer. So the next time someone uses Champions league football as a stick to beat Mr R9, tell the person to at least see the full context first. He’ is an apex predator in the game.