Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed that he looked up to Ronaldo as a youngster and wanted to play “exactly like him”.
Brazil international Ronaldo shone for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter as well as becoming – at the time – the top scorer in World Cup history with 15 goals.
And Ibrahimovic – whose own illustrious club career has seen him represent Barca, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Old Trafford – feels there is no player in the modern game quite like ‘El Fenomeno’.
“I think Ronaldo was phenomenal,” he told United Review, the club’s official matchday programme. “He was the player that whatever he did it became wow!
“He could do a difficult thing and it became magic. He would take the ball and it was like him saying ‘I’ll take care of it now’. You didn’t have that kind of football player before and you don’t have it today. He doesn’t exist.
“As a young player I watched him and said to myself ‘I want to be exactly like that’… the player who makes the difference, the shining light, simple as that.”
Ibrahimovic also revealed the best match he has ever watched as a spectator, with Ronaldo again involved as his Brazil side lost out to a Zinedine Zidane-inspired France in the 1998 World Cup final.
“I don’t watch a lot of football because I’m playing football, I’m talking football… I see football every day. You need to keep a little bit of distance.
“It’s all about the balance but if I can choose one maybe the World Cup when France won against Brazil because Ronaldo was playing obviously so you want to watch and Zidane was playing so you want to watch.
“These are the kind of players you want to watch.”