Ronaldo can't wait to shake off all the
jibes about being overweight, and over-keen on dancing in discos rather
than penalty areas.
The Brazil star is motivated as seldom before for today's clash with
Croatia in Berlin - and it's the record books he'll be looking to dance
This will be the 29-year-old's fourth World Cup campaign and with 12
goals under his belt, he's poised to steal the record of 14 World Cup
goals held by Germany's Gerd Mueller.
"The record's not my main aim, but it is an aim," he has said. "I want
to win the Cup. If I break the record, too, then that would be important,
but not the most important thing."
Brazil legend Pele also believes Ronaldo can do it. But the 2002 World
Cup top scorer (eight goals) is determined not to turn the tournament
into some kind of ego trip.
He is declining to make any scoring predictions, saying: "If I score,
then it'll be to help Brazil win the title. The aim is to get a sixth
title for Brazil. My personal aims are less important."
The all-time list sees France's Just Fontaine second behind Mueller with
13 goals (all scored in the 1958 tournament), then Ronaldo with 12 -
Ronaldo can also get a third World Cup winners' medal, like Pele, even
though he did not actually play at all during his tournament debut in
1994, when he automatically got a medal as squad member.
Mueller is gracious about the prospect of losing his record. "It would
surely be no disgrace to be overtaken by a Brazilian," he has said,
slyly adding: "He's easily going to hit two." That would only equal the
Ronaldo is entering the tournament having scored 59 goals in 92 national
team appearances - but hardly on a high with his club Real Madrid, after
a season plagued by injury and without winning the league for the third
year in a row.
Barcelona teammate Ronaldinho is backing the star to the hilt: "I think
he'll be best player in the World Cup. He needs three goals for the 15
to make him highest-ever scorer - but he'll get even more."
Ronaldo's Real teammate Robinho adds: "Everyone was worried at the last
World Cup because of his injuries beforehand - and he went on to be most
successful player. Ronaldo will always be Ronaldo."
Gerd Mueller has his own experience about overweight jibes. "They used
to call me Little Fat Mueller," he said. "Ronaldo would always be
supremely dangerous, even if he looks a bit overweight."
Ronaldo himself is looking very confident as he enters the fray. "Somehow,
I'm always carried by a wave of euphoria at World Cups," said the man
voted World Footballer of the Year 1996, 1997 and 2002.