Soccer

Brazil's Ronaldo wins World Cup Golden Boot

The Golden Shoe Award of the 2002 FIFA World Cup goes to Ronaldo, who increased his total to eight goals.

Joint second holders are Brazils Rivaldo and Miroslav Klose of Germany with 5 goals and 1 assist each.

Ronaldos total is the highest since Gerd Mueller scored ten goals in six matches in Mexico in 1970.

Ever since 1974 (Grzegorz Lato from Poland, 7 goals) the best goal scorer had always totaled six goals.

The Golden Boot Award goes to the top goal scorer of the FIFA World Cup.

Assists serve as a tie breaker with the FIFA Technical Study Group deciding whether an assist is to be counted as such.

Ronaldo, the hero of Brazil's 5th World Cup triumph, said his fairytale comeback from the depths of despair had exceeded even his own wildest dreams.

"Slowly, slowly I am starting to understand what has happened," the 25-year-old said after scoring twice in the final to sink Germany.

"It will take time but I am so happy right now," he said. "We played a great game and we have given joy to millions of people.

"Even in my wildest dreams I had never imagined that something like this could happen."

Ronaldo was plunged into a personal hell four years ago when he suffered a convulsion hours before the final.

Astonishingly, he was still allowed to play in the final, but he was a pale shadow of the player who was voted world player of the year twice before he was 21 as Brazil surrendered tamely to France.

The years since then have been like an extended spell in purgatory as recurring injuries combined with self doubt to cast a question mark over whether he would ever reach his old heights again.

After a five month break following long overdue knee surgery at the end of 1999, Ronaldo broke down again only minutes into his comeback match, the Italian Cup final.

Three muscle injuries further hampered his comeback but he never gave up.

Inspired by words of advice and encouragement from Pele, who was also written off as a spent force when he missed the 1966 World Cup finals through injury, Ronaldo finally made it back to the national team in March of this year, three years after his last game for his country.

Even now he is not fully fit and he has finished every match here with aching legs.

But the determination to eradicate the black memories of four years ago have carried him through and now he says just making it to another World Cup represented a triumph.

"I would be lying if I did not say that every time I step on the pitch, every time I score a goal and every time I enter a ground to play, it is a victory for me," he said. "Just to be here is such a huge step for me.

"Even if I was not a world champion I would still be very happy."

Ronaldo's eight goals went a long way towards delivering the trophy for Brazil but he insisted that every member of the squad had to share the glory.

"Having the World Cup in my hands is one of the most wonderful moments anyone could have. But everything that has happened for me would not have happened if it had not been for the team.

"No individual achievement can count for more than what we have done together."

What the future holds for Ronaldo remains uncertain.

The scar that stretches from the middle of his right thigh to half way down his calf is a constant reminder of how vulnerable he is to the next, possibly terminal, breakdown.

But having come this far, he knows he must also try to keep going forward.

"I am going to celebrate this achievement, but I know that new goals and new objectives will emerge. I am an ambitious person and I am going to go for it."

Ronaldo's eight goals here allowed him to move level in the World Cup goal scoring stakes with Pele, lifting his total to 12 after the four he scored at France 98.

The Inter Milan striker, who has scored a phenomenal 45 goals in 64 internationals, is now joint third-top scorer in the history of the finals along with his even more illustrious compatriot.

Germany's Gerd Muller still leads the way with 14 in the 1970s and Frenchman Just Fontaine netted 13 in 1958.

Ronaldo denied he had felt under pressure to make up for what happened four years ago, but he did acknowledge that the bitter experience of losing had been a powerful motivating force.

"I never felt like I owed something to the Brazilian people," he said. "But me and the other players who were there four years ago knew what it was like to miss out on the celebrations.

"We had this opportunity and we said to each other that we cannot miss out again."

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