World (Cup) In Motion: Looking Back At RONALDO V-FOOTBALL - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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World (Cup) In Motion: Looking Back At RONALDO V-FOOTBALL

Chris Morley pops back to 2000 for a World Cup footy game in all but name.
After looking back at World Cup '98 last time out, we can focus on that now rarest of beasts - the player endorsed football game. Just two years after his ill-fated appearance for Brazil in the France '98 final, Ronaldo lent his name to Infogrames' Ronaldo V-Football, which borrows the World Cup in all but name for its own V-Football Cup mode, in which you have to play qualifiers, get into the top two of your group and then squeeze through the knockout stages before hopefully tasting glory in the final!

You might recognise the main theme of the game - Bellini's Samba De Janeiro entirely in keeping with the Brazilian spirit of things, as you might expect from a game with one of their best players at the time on its box. And although Ronaldo was very much the star here, the gameplay itself offered a staggering 176 international teams (some featuring real player names, others not) to choose from, all available to play in the five different game modes: Exhibition, Arcade Cup, Resistance, Tournaments and the afforementioned World Cup-esque mode, the V-Football Cup. Add to that, all-star teams being unlocked as a reward for winning competitions, and fifteen stadiums (some based on real locations) available to play in, with settings for day and night as well as clear, rainy or foggy weather conditions, it's clear to see why the reviews were positively buzzing when Ronaldo V-Football arrived on the Playstation and Game Boy Colour in the Summer of 2000.
Gameplay itself was simple and worked mostly around the Playstations's four face buttons: Triangle sprints, Cross makes a low pass and a regular tackle on defense, Square lobs and crosses the ball (depending on the position) and makes a strong tackle on defense and circle shoots on goal and makes a sliding tackle on the player. The first row of shoulder buttons allow complex passes, such as the through-pass (R1) and the one-two (L1 + pass). There are three pad configurations to choose from.The player also acts as the manager, with options to change the formation, and to call several sets in-play, such as offside traps and the number of players in a free-kick wall.
The World Cup connection was further highlighted with Ronaldo donning the Brazilian national team's short/short colours. However, The famous yellow wasn't introduced until 1954, for the inaugural World Cup of 1930, hosted by neighbouring Uruguay, the Seleção Canarinho wore an all white kit. As they did when hosting the 1950 World Cup. So confident were the Brazilian football writers of the day that they had prematurely declared their boys world champions before a ball had been kicked! Until up popped Alcides Ghiggia with around ten minutes to go to seal the win for the Uruguayans & send the home fans away incredulous at what they'd just witnessed.

At least they'd have reason to celebrate by 1958 as Brazil beat hosts Sweden 5-2 to become World Cup winners for a first time. And a teenage Pele was among their ranks after having made his début in their last group match against the Soviet Union, though he would miss most of the 1962 tournament in Chile after being injured in their second group match against Czechoslovakia. Regardless, the men in yellow successfully defended their title by beating the same opponents in the final.

But after reaching such giddy heights, the 1966 staging of the tournament in England saw Brazil set a rather more unwanted record as the first national team to exit following the group stage having previously won it! All of their matches were played at Everton's Goodison Park where they beat Bulgaria then lost to Hungary and Portugal to take an early bath (and flight home). Various theories have been put forward as to why they nosedived so spectacularly, arguably the most persuasive being that Pele became something of a target for foul play. He would have the last laugh, though, as his last World Cup in Mexico in 1970 ended in another final victory for him and his equally talented team-mates as they beat Italy for a third World Cup win and were allowed to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy, which would be redesigned in time for 1974 in West Germany.
Ronaldo's own rise to prominence in the now iconic Brazilian shirt would come at France '98, where they were losing finalists against hosts France after having previously won the USA 94 tournament. Regardless of not lifting the trophy, Ronaldo still was awarded player of the tournament, thanks to four goals, the first in their second group match against Morocco, followed by strikes against Chile in the last 16 and a goal in normal time plus a penalty in the semi-final shoot-out against Holland.

A visibly off-colour Ronaldo then played in the final as Brazil lost to France amid much speculation in the build-up as to whether he'd make an appearance.

The man himself would later tell Four FourTwo that...
"I decided to get some rest after lunch and the last thing I remember was going to bed. After that, I had a convulsion.“
After which he was quite sensibly on the face of it told he wouldn't be playing (this prior to the modern game's increased focus on the possible impacts of head injuries & indeed concussions). Yet despite his apparent convulsive episode he was later passed fit
“All the essential medical exams didn't show anything was abnormal – it was like nothing had happened. After that we went to the stadium with a message from Zagallo saying that I wouldn't play.”
Zagallo is then-Brazil manager Mario, who was apparently given no choice but to let his newest star loose on the Stade de France pitch...
“I approached [Mario] Zagallo at the stadium and said: ‘I’m fine. I'm not feeling anything. Here are the test results, they’re fine. I want to play.’ I didn't give him an alternative. He had no choice and accepted my decision. Then I played and maybe I affected the whole team because that convulsion was certainly something very scary. It's not something you see every day.

In any case, I had a duty to my country and I didn't want to miss it. I had my honour and felt that I could play. Obviously, it wasn't one of the best matches in my career, but I was there to fulfil my role."
Some had suggested that it was not entirely "duty to [his] country" that was Ronaldo's concern, as undue influence on the part of Nike may have been a factor/ They'd signed a still ongoing agreement to supply Brazil's kit in 1997 as well as signing Ronaldo himself up the year prior to the tournament and was contracted to wear their Mercurial boots throughout France 98! Dissenting voices even came from within Brazil's ranks, with Edmundo Alves de Souza Neto, better known simply as Edmundo, the man in line to start the final before Ronaldo's addition to the team-sheet claiming...
"Nike's people were there 24 hours a day, as if they were members of the technical staff. It's a huge power. That's all I can say."
For us, though, next time we pay a visit to an emerging power on the football world stage in revisiting the 2002 World Cup, the first to be played in Asia as South Korea & Japan co-hosted - which in itself proved another first! Breakfast-time beers all round for us English fans........

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