Ronaldo reveals he “never wanted to leave Inter,” but felt forced to walk away when the club backed Hector Cuper after their Scudetto collapse.
“That Inter was a fantastic team. Along with Bobo Vieri, we had Clarence Seedorf and many other talents. Unfortunately, the injuries prevented me from sharing the field with Vieri that many times,” Ronaldo said via videolink in the Festival dello Sport.
“When I first arrived, there was such great enthusiasm at Inter and the fans believed we could achieve wonderful results. I see enthusiasm around Inter this year too and hope we can win something.”
Ronaldo suffered a series of knee injuries in his career, none more painful than the rupture of a tendon just minutes into his comeback during a Coppa Italia game against Lazio.
“I immediately realised that the knee had buckled. I had to hold my knee in place, as it was sliding towards the thigh. It was an injury that had never really happened in football before and there wasn’t much information, so the first 10 days were total darkness and sadness. I had to find within myself all the love for football, love I didn’t even know I had.
“I never let go for a day during that physiotherapy and always hoped I could get back on the pitch. I do feel that the training exercises I was given before that did not help the situation.”
Ronaldo did return and was about to take Inter to the long-awaited Scudetto on May 5, 2002, but a 4-2 defeat at Lazio saw Juventus leapfrog them to win the title on the last day.
“I thought about that many times. I think we went out there too convinced that we’d win. I also believe Cuper got the wrong line-up, putting one too many players in midfield.
“There were some individual errors in there too. It was one of the biggest disappointments of my entire life.”
A couple of months later, Ronaldo completed a transfer to Real Madrid.
“I never wanted to leave Inter, as I felt that was my home and would be for life. I’d never gone to a President to demand they fire the Coach, as that didn’t seem right and it wasn’t my style.
“However, we reached a point with Cuper where I simply couldn’t do anything else. He did not treat me well at all. I don’t know if winning the Scudetto would’ve changed my mind.
“I was convinced Massimo Moratti would sack Cuper, so it was a nasty surprise for me when he backed the Coach. At that moment, as I was too proud, I decided to walk away.
“The city that had first loved me, now hated me. I needed police protection. It was tough. I adore Moratti, he was like a father to me. We reached a conclusion to that relationship where both of us made a mistake.”
Adding insult to injury, Moratti did eventually fire Cuper in October 2003.
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Football Italia staff