The original, Brazilian Ronaldo turns 40 tomorrow, and the Guardian has a nice, nostalgic piece on his extraordinary greatness. There is a lot of sadness in the article about his injuries, “If it wasn’t for injury I think he would be talked about on the same level as Pelé and Maradona,” says Gianluigi Buffon. This reminded me of an interview that Ronaldo did in the Guardian’s “Small Talk” series many years ago, in which he confounded the clever, cynical, shallow journalist, with his unexpected profundity:
Who or what would you put in Room 101?
[Small Talk embarks on another ridiculously long-winded and far from adequate explanation which Ronaldo might not have fully understood]. Nothing. [Small Talk raises its eyebrows, tries to explain Room 101 better and insists that nothing isn’t much of an answer]. Seriously, nothing – everything in my life has been good, there’s nothing I’d like to get rid of, nobody I’d like to send away. Everything has been in its place. [Small Talk protests some more]. No, even the bad things have been good in a sense – they’ve helped me to improve in all sorts of ways. [Having seen Ronaldo’s monster scar up close, Small Talk suggests he might like to put injuries in the room]. No, not even them. They’re over now, I’ve learnt from them, and I’m happy. [With the words ‘dead’, ‘horse’ and ‘flog’ springing to mind, Small Talk decides to move on …]
The point is wonderfully Pauline and Augustinian: even of bad things are allowed by divine providence only for our good. It is easy to say such things in theory, but more difficult in a situation such as Ronaldo’s. His injuries prevented him from being seen as on the level of Pelé and Maradona, and yet he sees that they were in “good in a sense,” and he is happy.