Football: Simoni reassured by Ronaldo
Monday 28 July 1997
Speaking soon after watching Ronaldo's first training session at the Italian club's lakeside training facilities at Como, Gigi Simoni, the Inter coach, said: "He appears to me to be a mature young man, above all keeping in mind that he's only 20. He's got a lot of good sense, you can tell by the statements he makes. He wants immediately to be friends with everybody."
Simoni has replaced the Englishman Roy Hodgson - now the manager of Blackburn Rovers - as Inter's coach, and is only too well aware that the pressure will not just be on Ronaldo this season, but also on him. Simoni's brief is to rejuvenate one of the giants of Italian football with the sport's greatest talent.
"Ronaldo is the best player in the world in this moment, but I will be appreciated both by Ronaldo and by the other players if I know how to administer the team according to criteria of sports justice, giving space to he who deserves it," Simoni said.
Ronaldo has signed a five-year contract with Inter, following his controversial transfer from Barcelona, a deal which still must be definitively settled. He arrived in Italy on Friday, two days before last night's friendly match in Milan's San Siro against Manchester United.
On his arrival Ronaldo said he was looking forward to renewing his rivalry with the highly acclaimed coach Fabio Capello for a second consecutive season - this tim on the Italian's home turf.
Capello guided Real Madrid to the Spanish championship last season, but has returned to Italy to coach Inter's biggest rivals, Milan. Like Inter, Milan are hoping to bounce back after a very disappointing season. "Capello is a great coach, a great tactician," Ronaldo said. "Even so, it would be a great feeling to beat Capello's Milan to the Italian league title. I'm psychologically prepared and I think I can help this Inter side win the league."
Ronaldo, whose transfer from Barcelona was subject to weeks of wrangling between Inter and Barcelona, said he had not spoken personally to officials at Camp Nou since he left. "I've just kept in touch with some of the players and fans," he said.
But he did make a special point of thanking the Barcelona board for the short time he spent there - a single season in which the club won the Cup-Winners' Cup, the Spanish Cup and finished second in the league. "I'd like to thank everyone at Barcelona," Ronaldo said. "I had a great season with them, and is was good to win a couple of trophies."
The precise details of Ronaldo's world record transfer to Inter have still to be decided. The move was put on ice for weeks after the Spanish football federation refused to issue a transfer certificate for him. It said the withdrawal clause which allowed the Brazilian to buy out his contract was valid for domestic transfers only.
Fifa, the world governing body, has now cleared the move but insists that the two clubs agree a transfer fee before the end of July. If they fail to do so, Fifa will impose a fee.
"I just wanted everything to be sorted out as quickly as possible," Ronaldo said when asked how he had felt during the complex negotiations over his future. "I just wanted to come to Inter as soon as I could."
At Inter Ronaldo is likely to be partnered up front by Nwankwo Kanu, the Nigerian forward who has been out for nearly a year following heart valve surgery. Kanu, 21, has been passed fit, and was expected to play against United last night. Kanu last played on 24 August 1996.
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