Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ronaldo bids farewell to Brazil national team

Brazilian football star Ronaldo is honoured for his successful career int he half-time of a friendly match against Romania. -- PHOTO: AFP

SAO PAULO - RONALDO'S career with Brazil's national team came to an emotional end as he was given a send-off during Tuesday's friendly game against Romania.

The striker made a cameo appearance in the game from the 30th minute until halftime, when he was honoured in a ceremony that recognised his contribution to the 'Selecao'. Brazil won the match - its last before the Copa America - 1-0, with Fred scoring in the first half.

The 34-year-old Ronaldo retired in February after an 18-year career. The three-time Fifa Player of the Year represented Brazil in four World Cups - winning two of them - and remains the competition's all-time leading scorer with 15 goals. Only Pele scored more goals for Brazil than Ronaldo.

Players from both teams lined up near the sideline and applauded Ronaldo as he left the field at halftime. Visibly moved, he put the Brazilian flag on his back, and with the ball in his hand, went around saluting the fans that packed the Pacaembu stadium. There were banners remembering the matches in which he scored each of his 15 World Cup goals.

'Thank you for all that you have done for me throughout my career,' Ronaldo said, addressing the supporters from the pitch. 'Thank you for having accepted me the way I am, for having cried when I cried and for having smiled when I smiled.'

Fans loudly chanted the striker's name as he went into the locker rooms one last time. 'Brazil thanks Ronaldo,' read a banner held by fans. 'There is only one Ronaldo,' read another. -- AP

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