On this day in 2009…
He was, without doubt, the player of his generation; Ronaldo, El Fenomeno.
The Brazillian striker’s illustrious career was waning down by this point (8th March 2009) as the injuries that had always hampered him to some extent throughout his career, had delayed his romantic return to Brazil with Corinthians.
A potentially career-ending knee injury suffered over a year before this triumphant return, picked up while playing for AC Milan, had required surgery. And so this, off the bench and to heckles from the press about his fitness and his infamous weight, was his comeback.
A brief cameo four days earlier was his first appearance in Brazillian football since leaving for PSV as a teenager, but this, in front of his adoring fans and with his team in desperate need of an equaliser, truly was his return. He enters the pitch and displays skill almost instantly, dribbling at a defence aware of the presence of the great man.
Minutes later the crossbar is rattling as he fires a long-range shot with power, but finds the woodwork rather than the net. And so the tension inside Arena Corinthians continues to grow until their side are awarded a last-minute corner. In the ball swings and who is there to head in?