The story of the greatest Ronaldo goal of all time… and the lawsuit it prompted

The boy from Brazil scored a goal so good it was almost illegal.

Ronaldo in action for Brazil
Ronaldo The boy from Brazil in action at France 98. Image Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images

20 years ago, Barcelona’s Brazilian wonderkid Ronaldo blitzed through the entire Compostela side to score the greatest goal of his glittering career.

Picking the ball up on the halfway line he shimmied, swayed and powered forward with the ball seemingly sticking to his feet. A sublime drag-back created an angle in the penalty area and he dispatched the ball beyond a helpless Fernando Peralta in goal.

It took 10 seconds for Ronaldo to cover half the pitch and find the back of the net – the strike was so extraordinary TV replays caught Barcelona manager Bobby Robson leaping from the dugout with his hands on his head in disbelief.

Even Ronaldo, who scored a hat-trick in the 5-1 demolition of Compostela, couldn’t quite fathom what he’d done.

“The most difficult goal I scored was with Barca and against Compostela. That was very difficult. You do not see goals like that every day,” he later said.

Robson only managed Ronaldo for a single season at Barca in the 1996/97 term, but in that time he saw him bag 47 goals in 49 games. The ex-England manager knew he was in the presence of greatness.

“He was so strong, would go past people, come deep to get the ball, turn and whatever you put in front of him there was a chance he could always go through you. Power and skill,” Robson told FourFourTwo.

Ronaldo’s goal on October 12, 1996 thrust him to the world’s attention, and Nike even decided to use it as the backdrop for one of their ads.

“Imagine you asked God to be the best player in the world, and he listened to you,” the voiceover proclaimed.

But the story of that goal doesn’t end there. Ronaldo’s effort was so good seven Compostela players wanted it declared illegal – more specifically they sued Nike for featuring them in the spot.

Ex-Compostela stars William Amaral de Andrade, Javier Bellido, Frank Passi, Fabiano Soares Pessoa, Jose Ramon Gonzalez, Mauro Garcia and Chiba Said demanded financial compensation for the ad claiming it caused them moral and economic damage.

If you’d just been skinned by one of football’s greats surely it’s something to treasure? Tellingly, goalkeeper Peralta, who saw the whole thing unfold from his vantage point, didn’t bother to sue.

The Supreme Court ended up rejecting their compensation claim in 2009.

In a translated report from Marca, the court said that the purpose of the ad was to “highlight great footballing quality” and indicative of the sport’s “important moments”.

loaded couldn’t agree more. Sometimes it’s good to know when you’re beaten, and on that night the Compostela defence was very much second best.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn