1997 – An O Fenômeno Summer.

Posted on June 23, 2011 by

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By Mohamed Moallim

1997 was a wonderful year if you were a Brazilian forward named Ronaldo a.k.a. O Fenômeno, a debut season at FC Barcelona ended with a Cup Winners’ Cup winner’s medal and 47 goals scored – the world was his oyster. And that summer he set off for his second Copa América in Bolivia.

The tournament was also the first I watched, albeit sporadically, though one game that I vividly remember was seeing Ronaldo at his pomp – it was their first group game against Costa Rica.

Brazil won 5-0 and at times looked like an expedition or even a pre-season friendly, the samba boys were that rampant. In the game itself Ronaldo grabbed himself a second half hat-trick (nothing new here) and there was a cameo from the eccentric Djalminha who opened the scoring and a Rónald González own goal doubled the Brazilian lead ten minutes from the half-time.

From the get go Brazil laid down a marker with a statement of intent and truly began as they mean to go own, two further games against Mexico and Colombia in the group were won, though Mexico did put up a resistance losing only 3-2.

Ronaldo who didn’t score in those two games would make up for it in the quarter-finals scoring twice in a 2-0 win over Paraguay, though José Luis Chilavert denied him another hat-trick in the tournament from the spot. In the semis Brazil was at the mercurial best once again in a scintillating 7-0 demolition of Chile (and surprisingly Ronaldo wasn’t on the score sheet).

 

 

But he would score in the 3-1 win over Boliva in the final – Brazil’s 5th title.

 

Without doubt the star of the tournament – no one has had a bigger impact in a single tournament, in my opinion, since –  and capped off what had been a wonderful year but the summer would also see him leave Catalunya for Milan, the Nerazzurri half that is.

Mohamed is a connoisseur of all things Dutch football and a regular writer for FourFourTwo. You can follow him on his personal website, La Croqueta, or on Twitter @Jouracule.

 
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Posted in: South America