Arguably the most memorable image from Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph was of their star striker Ronaldo.
The legendary former Real Madrid and Inter striker scored twice in the final – a 2-0 victory over Germany – but there was as much interest in his bizarre choice of haircut in the final than of his performance.
Speaking in Melbourne at the announcement of Real’s “World of Football Experience,” Ronaldo revealed that the hairstyle had little to do with aesthetics, rather they were a distraction tactic to take the pressure off himself.
Ronaldo’s last appearance in a World Cup final had been in France four years previously, where he was struck down with a mystery illness but was still somehow cleared to play. He was determined to take the focus off of that by any means necessary:
“I had an injury in my leg and everybody was talking about that.
“I decided to cut my hair and leave the small thing there. I come to training and everybody saw me with bad hair.
“Everybody was talking about the hair and forgot about the injury. I could stay more calm and relaxed and focused on my training.
“I’m not proud about the hair itself because it was pretty strange. But it was a good way to change the subject.”
Brazil have not won the World Cup, or even reached the final, since that day in Japan sixteen years ago. They were tipped by many to win the tournament on home soil n 2014, but their tournament ended in humiliating fashion when they were eviscerated 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals.
With Tite at the helm and a bright, young squad, however, there is renewed hope that the Selecao can return from Russia this summer with the World Cup trophy in tow.