Three-time FIFA player of the year Ronaldo donned a Corinthians jersey Friday,
officially joining the Sao Paulo soccer club after months of speculation of
where - or if - he would play again.
The 32-year-old striker, battling back from a major knee injury he sustained
February that ended his time at AC Milan, said he was grateful to the club for
giving him a chance.
"It's going to be a huge challenge and we are committed to winning," he said at
a news conference. "I thank Corinthians for giving me this opportunity, for
opening their doors and embracing me during my recovery."
Asked when he might be able to play again, Ronaldo only said "soon."
"I'll have to show it on the field," he said. "Off the field it is only words,
some pretty, some ugly. But football is proven on the field."
While it won't be the same level of glamour - or money - as European football,
Ronaldo said he was happy to play in Brazil.
"I love football - I've been a professional since I was 15," he said. "But I
only played one year in Brazil. I've missed my country and family a lot."
Ronaldo signed a one-year deal with the Sao Paulo club this week with a one-year
option. It included a clause allowing him to cancel it at any time. Brazilian
media reported the contract will pay him 400,000 reals (C$209,015) per month.
At the height of his career, he commanded US$8 million a year in salary.
Marcio Gobbi, vice-president of Corinthians, rejected accusations that the club
contracted Ronaldo for business rather than sporting reasons - the club has
already sold thousands of Ronaldo jerseys.
"Ronaldo isn't here for marketing, he is here to play," he said. "Brazilian
football deserves the return of the best player of recent times."
For months Ronaldo has told reporters that various European clubs were
interested in him: Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Italy's Siena among
But this week he told Brazilian media he was not interested in returning to
Europe. Though it isn't clear many European clubs were too excited by the
prospect of his return, either: Manchester City officials repeatedly denied any
interest in Ronaldo, who has been hobbled by injuries throughout much of his
For the past four months, Ronaldo has been training with his hometown club
Flamengo - his declared favourite team - using its facilities and scrimmaging on
its practice pitch.
Flamengo fans were outraged at what they saw as his treachery in signing for
Corinthians when news of the move broke earlier this week. But by Friday, it
seemed fans had moved from the anger to acceptance.
"He's washed up, you know. At the end of his career," said taxi driver Bernardo
Souza Pontes. "It's not right, the way he left us, but it isn't a great loss,