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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 08:09, March 01, 2006
Ronaldo begins divorce proceedings with Real
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Four years after Ronaldo forced his way out of Inter Milan to join the ranks of the Galacticos at Real Madrid, his relationship with the Spanish giants appears to be heading for divorce.

The Brazilian striker dropped the break-up bombshell before last week's Champions League defeat by Arsenal, saying the club's supporters did not love him.

"The fans have never accepted me and their reaction is something to take into account when thinking about my future," said the three-times World Player of the Year.

"I've always said that I don't want to be where I'm not loved. I've never felt at home at the Bernabeu, the fans have never treated me with affection."

The timing of the announcement, on the eve of the club's biggest game of the season, was no accident and the presence of the international media was designed to give it maximum impact.

To put it simply, Ronaldo believes he has put a lot into his partnership with Real and now he wants out.

Together with goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Ronaldo has been Real's most consistent performer over the past four years, scoring regularly and often spectacularly.

He netted within seconds of making his debut against Alaves in October 2002 and has notched 96 goals in the four seasons since then.

Casillas and Ronaldo were the driving forces that propelled Real to their last major trophy, the 2003 league title, but it has not been enough to win over the Bernabeu faithful.

Barcelona past

One thing that undoubtedly rankles with some fans is that he used to play for arch-rivals Barcelona and produced the most magical form of his club career for the Catalans in the 1996-97 season.

Also, unlike fellow forward Raul, he does not fit the mould of the hard-working club hero whose success is based on buckets of sweat and not a few tears.

For Ronaldo it all seems to come too easily. He can amble around the pitch for 89 minutes and then decide a game with one devastating run and shot.

The Brazilian's reputation has not been helped by his carrying too much weight and he is often shown struggling in training runs by the suffocating Madrid sports media.

Off-the-field distractions such as his Valentine's Day engagement ceremony to former girlfriend Daniella Cicarelli just a few days before last year's Champions League defeat by Juventus rankled with fans and fellow members of the squad.

Most important of all, though, is the fact that his presence at the club has not brought Real the success the fans crave. A single league title in four seasons is scant reward for having the world's best striker on the payroll.

Ronaldo has carried off a stack of individual awards but these have done little to fill Real's trophy cabinet.

When he paraded the Ballon D'Or and World Player awards to the crowd at the Bernabeu in December 2002, they responded with a chant of "Raul, Raul".

Uncomfortably for any coach thinking of taking on Ronaldo, the majority of his achievements have come at international, not club level.

Injury problems

He has won only one league title in the 12 seasons since his arrival in Europe and has yet to win the Champions League although he was in the Barca side that won the Cup Winners' Cup and helped Inter triumph in the UEFA Cup.

Injury is part of the explanation. A career-threatening knee injury at Inter kept him out of the game for over two seasons and untimely muscular problems have disrupted his progress at Real.

As for his future, club captain Raul has given him a clear warning to bite his tongue until the end of the season.

Real, who have denied reports that he is for sale, are also likely to remain tight-lipped because they need his goals if they are to have a chance of winning anything.

Having played for both Barca and Real it is unlikely he will be able to remain in Spain.

English clubs would no doubt be interested but it is difficult to envisage him taking to either the climate or the cut and thrust of the Premier League. That leaves Italy.

Inter owner Massimo Moratti has said the door is open for a return and the Spaniards would dearly love to conclude a swap deal with Adriano.

But given his acrimonious exit from Inter, Ronaldo could well face a more hostile reception than he gets at Real.

City rivals AC Milan have also made it clear they would be interested in signing the Brazilian although with Andriy Shevchenko and Alberto Gilardino in their ranks, they are hardly in desperate need of another big name striker.

Breaking up with Real, though Ronaldo may desire it, might not be as easy as it first appears.

Source: China Daily

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