Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who faces a major battle to save his
career, underwent his third knee operation in Paris on Thursday.
The 31-year-old now faces at least nine months on the sidelines and will only be
able to think about returning to action with AC Milan at the end of the year.
Ronaldo flew to Paris after rupturing a tendon in his right knee during AC
Milan's 1-1 draw with Livorno on Wednesday.
Renowned French surgeon Professor Gerard Saillant, who supervise the two-hour
operation, told RTL: "He'll come back but it depends on what he wants to do with
the rest of his career, whether he wants to continue for a certain number of
years or if he wants to end his career quite soon.
"I think that depends on him, on his willingness to continue to work hard and to
make the sacrifices necessary to come back, realising that it is more difficult
at 31 than at 20."
Saillant, who operated on Ronaldo in both 1999 and 2000, added: "It seems it's
the same injury requiring a number of months recovery time. A very important
tendon of his knee is completely torn and it needs to be repaired and
strengthened because it has been greatly weakened."
The veteran, all-time top World Cup scorer with 15 goals, has played just six
matches this term after thigh and calf problems and now has another even worse
setback to contend with.
"It is a bad injury but it can be treated as surgical techniques today have
improved," Piero Volpi, doctor with Inter Milan when Ronaldo suffered a spate of
injuries almost a decade ago, told SkyTV 24.
"I am not pessimistic on Ronaldo's career - but the problem is now he is eight
years older than in 2000 and for a sportsman it's always that much more
difficult to get back to your top level," Volpi warned.
Italian media speculated whether, after the catalogue of knee injuries that "Il
Fenomeno" has suffered in the past, Ronaldo's latest setback might spell the end
of the world champion's career.
In November 1999 and again five months later, he suffered similar problems but
returned after the best part of two years on the sidelines following surgery to
lift the World Cup with Brazil, scoring in the final win over Germany and
finishing tournament top scorer.
With Ronaldo having suffered the bulk of his previous serious injuries playing
for Inter before joining Real Madrid, his latest setback has found sympathy on
the black and blue half of town and Inter chairman Massimo Moratti on wished him
"I hope he gets better soon. But clearly one can at the moment speak of a career
in danger, as one said previously first time round (in 1999 and 2000)," Moratti
Back in Brazil, local media were aghast at Ronaldo's latest misfortune.
"A Phenonemon in danger," headlined the Correio Braziliense daily, referring to
Ronaldo's "fragile knees."
O Globo daily noted that "now, aged 31, there's not much hope for him" while O
Estado newspaper from Sao Paulo added that his contract at Milan "ends on June
30 and it's difficult to see it being renewed."
Ronaldo was injured just minutes after entering the fray as a second-half
substitute and was taken to hospital.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti refused overnight to call time on Ronaldo's career.
"We're all very sorry and worried about what happened to Ronaldo, I don't want
to say it's the end of his career because only time can decide whether it is or
not," he said.