Top 10: Players of Korea/Japan 2002
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True, Ronaldo was a better player in 1998 than he was in 2002 – he was never quite the same physiological masterpiece after his horrible 2000 cruciate ligament injury, and his pace and sheer brute force were diminished in comparison to The Phenomenon who’d blasted Brazil to the final at France '98 (winning the Golden Ball as a result, only to have a mysterious fit and look like a passenger in the most important fixture).
But 2002 represented redemption. If Ronny wasn’t quite as good as before he was still a cut above the rest, thumping an amazing eight goals to win the Golden Boot, and the tournament, in what was a much happier few weeks than his French delight-turned-nightmare. He scored in every match apart from the quarter-final win over England, combining beautifully with Ronaldinho and Rivaldo throughout; bagged two in the final against Germany, and equalled Pele’s 12 World Cup goals. The biggest win, though, was the fact that he could “play football again, run again and score goals again”. Amen to that.