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The Original Ronaldo and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers


The original Ronaldo, the Ronaldo that captured the world in the late 1990s and much of the 2000s is now a part-owner of US second division side, Fort Lauderdale Strikers. In a press talk, the Brazilian legend hinted that he could return return to play provided he gets back into shape.

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No, no it’s not the most outrageous January transfer of all time; Cristiano is staying put in Madrid. But his namesake – the one who lit the world from the Spanish capital ten years before – is all set to make a comeback for US second division side the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

38-year-old Ronaldo Nazario is getting himself back into shape following four years out of the game, and recently became a minority owner for the North American side, whose former players include other Brazilian legend’s including Romario and Zinho. But could he make himself his first ever signing?

Well, with a name like the ‘Strikers’, he certainly fits the bill. The former Real Madrid star had a glittering career scoring over 350 goals in club football, and even with creaky knees – and a few extra pounds – they do always say class is permanent.

And he’s not been averse to winning while he’s been away. The World Cup winner has seen success in Grand Prix with his A1 Team Brazil, while on the poker tables he’s also quite the champion. In fact, following going up against tennis pro Rafael Nadal in a PokerStars head to head duel late last year, he won over $42,000 at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, beating some of the world’s top professionals. And it’s that competitive streak which is no doubt causing his itch to get back onto the field.

He teased the idea of a return at the unveiling of his new part ownership of the Florida club, stating, “That is not easy because I love to play, I love soccer, that was all my life my big love. When I retired, I stopped playing because of my body, so much pain and injuries.”

“To play a soccer game you have to be in very good shape. I will try for myself, it’s another challenge, I am sure it will help the league, help the team.”

Of course Ronaldo isn’t the first footballing legend to arrive on US shores, joining the likes of Pele, Bobby Moore, and Johan Cruyff, and once again it’s becoming popular to play across the pond.

The big move of Steven Gerrard to LA Galaxy has re-sparked the interest in United States soccer again, aided by a successful World Cup, and next season the MLS will feature the Liverpool skipper, Frank Lampard, David Villa, Kaka, while Raul, Kleberson, and Ronaldo could be plying themselves in the division below.

Not only that but what Ronaldo could be contributing to, is a hotbed of the sport in Florida. The Strikers have long been an established team in the state with the likes of George Best, Gordon Banks, and Gerd Muller all turning out for the side in the late 70s, with Best scoring arguably one of his greatest goals of all time, while the Tampa Bay Rowdies (big rivals of the Strikers) are also well established in the NASL. However, Ronaldo could recapture the public’s imagination for the game, particularly with two new franchises on the horizon.

Orlando City are all set to join the MLS this term with Kaka the man to bring the crowds into the Citrus Bowl, while David Beckham’s Miami franchise is expected to be in place by around 2017, and could see the sport explode along the East Coast.

Ronaldo will certainly keep the enthusiasm burning if he makes a return. During his first spell in soccer, he won countless honors including La Liga, Copa del Rey, and World Player of the Year three times. If he gets fit, he’ll no doubt have a goal in him, not to mention vital experience.

His knowledge of the game could be vital in establishing not only Fort Lauderdale once more – perhaps winning their first NASL championship – but also the league in general.

Ronaldo added at the press conference, “It’s a pleasure to be here, it’s an honor to be part of this team.

“I thank my partners for trusting in me. I’m sure we will continue the history of Fort Lauderdale Strikers and for sure we will make this team a big team. We will work hard on this.

“I wish good luck to us, and let’s work.”


 

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