Today marks a significant anniversary in the modern history of football, with it now being exactly 10 years since the original Ronaldo called time on his playing days.
After spending a couple of years at Corinthians, the formidable Brazilian striker retired in February 2011, aged 34, after succumbing to the injury and fitness issues that had blighted the latter stages of his career.
One of the greatest players of all time, the mere sight of Ronaldo’s name on the team sheet in his pomp was enough to strike fear into the hearts of defenders all around the world.
Having started out at Cruzeiro as a 17-year-old, he made the leap to Europe in 1994 with PSV Eindhoven before going on to play for Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and AC Milan, before returning to Brazil.
Ronaldo twice won the World Cup (1994, 2002) and the World Cup Golden Boot (1998, 2002), and is second only to Miroslav Klose in terms of total goals scored at the finals with 15 to his name, one behind his German counterpart.
Of the 296 goals that he scored for club and country throughout his 18-year career, it’s tricky to whittle down a top 10, but here’s our pick of O Fenemeno‘s (“The Phenomenon”) very best work.
What better way to announce yourself to your new European audience than by scoring with ridiculously dainty little front-post back-heels?
Ronaldo’s first ever hat trick in La Liga featured three wonderful goals, but the third — a trademark cavalry charge from the halfway line leaving four defenders in his wake — was the pick of the bunch.
🇧🇷 ‘O Fenômeno’ at his very best…
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) October 26, 2020
An early demonstration of Ronaldo’s power and technique came as Brazil warmed-up for the 1996 Olympics with a friendly against Denmark.
The Selecao won 5-1, with Ronaldo scoring the fifth and final goal for his side by waltzing past a couple of Danish defenders and then thrashing an unstoppable shot into the very top corner.
Great Ronaldo Goals I Hadn’t Seen Before, No.1 of 1: for Brazil’s Olympic team vs Denmark, 1996 pic.twitter.com/FFECKDap1r
— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) July 10, 2019
Barcelona vs. Compostela, 1996
Ronaldo scored two goals in a comprehensive 5-1 win for Barca, the best of which was this incredible solo charge from the halfway line.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 12, 2020
Brazil vs. Ghana, 1996
At the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, Ronaldo latched onto a through-ball, shrugged off a defender as if he was made of tissue paper and then chipped home an impudent finish over the advancing goalkeeper from a ridiculously tight angle.
— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) September 22, 2017
Inter Milan vs Spartak Moscow, 1998
On a pitch that looked more like a freshly excavated quarry, Ronaldo somehow still managed to dance across the crater-strewn surface to score this majestic individual goal in the UEFA Cup semifinal.
#TalDíaComoHoy en 1998…
— UEFA.com en español (@UEFAcom_es) April 14, 2020
Ronaldo earned himself a standing ovation at Old Trafford with a virtuoso hat-trick performance in the Champions League.
The first two goals were perfectly good in their own right, but the third — a 25-yard rasp past Fabian Barthez — was the icing on the cake.
😮 The first Ronaldo to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford #OTD in 2003!
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 23, 2019
Brazil vs. Ghana, 2006
A decade later, Ghana were once again forced to watch on as Ronaldo overtook Gerd Muller to become the all-time highest goal scorer in World Cup finals history.
The Brazil striker took just five minutes to open the scoring, sprinting onto a pass from Kaka, shimmying past goalkeeper Richard Kingson and rolling home goal No. 15.
Ronaldo vs Ghana, WC 2006 pic.twitter.com/Qqv1q46UjC
— amadí (@amadoit__) April 4, 2018
AC Milan vs Inter Milan, 2007
Ronaldo opened the scoring in the Milan derby with a thunderous strike from distance to remind his former club what he was capable of.
Unfortunately for the Rossoneri, they ultimately went onto lose 2-1 against their bitter rivals.
Corinthians vs. Santos, 2016
While the electric pace might have dwindled, Ronaldo proved that his goal-scoring instincts were still razor sharp with this exquisite lob from outside the area in his farewell game.
Talvez o gol mais bonito da volta do Ronaldo para o Brasil. Santos x Corinthians na Vila, final do Paulista de 2009. A narração é do monstro pic.twitter.com/9y20tUgS6q
— Doentes por Futebol (de 😷) (@DoentesPFutebol) September 22, 2017
As part of the celebrations, all the Corinthians players (including goalkeeper Julio Cesar) wore Ronaldo’s nickname and No. 9 on the back of their jerseys.