Football: World Cup blamed for Ronaldo slump

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The Independent Online
RONALDO IS enduring the worst spell of an otherwise brilliant career thanks to the World Cup in France, according to the Internazionale president, Massimo Moratti.

Things went wrong at France 98 when the Brazil centre-forward suffered inflamed tendons in both knees, and then the emotional shock of having a fit on the day of the World Cup final. Ronaldo took six weeks off to recover both mentally and physically from the experience, only to find the tendon trouble reappearing as soon as he started training hard for the Serie A season.

His personal physiotherapist has been flown over from Brazil and Inter have even built a long sandpit for their 22-year-old star to train in without aggravating the problem.

However, Moratti said: "The World Cup did him harm. Ronaldo is still feeling the effects of that period. His season got off to a bad start, although I think the lad is happy within himself.

"There is a negative period in the career of every truly great footballer. What's unfortunate, is that Ronaldo is going through his one now."

The Middlesbrough striker Hamilton Ricard is returning from Colombia after escaping the worst of the earthquake nightmare which has left the country in chaos. The 25-year-old was in Bogota for his country's 1-1 draw with Denmark, but Boro have confirmed that that he is safe and on his way back to Teesside.

"Hamilton said he felt a rumble but that was all," said a spokesman. "He is safe and we expect him back tonight."