Ronaldo – False Diagnosis
Ronaldo’s contract expires at the end of this season, with his future in as much doubt as his level of fitness.
Altogether the striker clocked up 280 minutes of play in the early part of the season — roughly as much as a substitute goalkeeper occasionally totting up time in cup matches.
“The amount of time he plays is actually not important. Ronaldo still needs only 15 minutes to decide a match,” enthused AC Milan’s living legend and team captain Paolo Maldini. But others in Italy do not share his opinion.
The summer of 2007 was supposed to mark the cheerful dawn of a new era. A year of goals, feints and, above all, of pain-free play. Last July, Ronaldo’s personal fitness coach took charge of him, arranging daily jogging sessions along the beaches of Brazil. As a result, he shed 5.5kg and started the season looking spruce and fit. No hint of El Gordo (fat man), as Real Madrid’s fans used to call him mockingly. During his stint in Spain, he weighed 93kg despite being only 1.83m tall.
But July did not end as gloriously as it had begun. During a public training session at the official team presentation at a packed San Siro stadium, Ronaldo sent a thundering volley to his team-mates and promptly collapsed on the ground. Not so serious, they thought, as he continued to train. The doctors initially diagnosed a slightly pulled muscle in the thigh but AC Milan’s chief medical coordinator, Jean-Pierre Meersseman, later admitted: “That was the wrong diagnosis. The minor strain was in fact a torn muscle.” It was an unusual mistake from the famous MilanLab, which before then had attributed Ronaldo’s weight problems to a dysfunctional thyroid gland and had helped the striker lose two further kilos from around his midriff.