Ex-Barcelona president recalls story of dressing up as a waiter to sign Ronaldo in 1996


Ronaldo may have only spent a single season at Barcelona, but what a season it was.

After joining from PSV Eindhoven for £13.5m in 1996, the Brazilian established himself as one of the best players in the world with 47 goals in 51 games.

That tally saw Ronaldo win the Pichichi and European Golden Shoe, while Barcelona won the Copa del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and Supercopa de Espana.

A first of two Ballon d'Ors followed for Ronaldo in 1997, though at this point he was an Inter Milan player.

Problems with the renegotiation of a new contract was the reason for Ronaldo's premature exit, with the agreement collapsing on the day it was meant to be finalised.

Ronaldo could have become legendary at Barcelona - his new deal was meant to last until 2006 - but he ended up spending five years at Inter before joining Real Madrid and then AC Milan.

As you can probably tell, showing loyalty to clubs wasn't part of the 42-year-old's game.

Barcelona will be thankful for the single season Ronaldo spent with them, though, especially after they tried to hard to sign him.

Former president Joan Gaspart has recalled an amazing story of how he flew to Miami and snuck into Brazil's training camp dressed as a waiter to speak to Ronaldo.


"The signing of Ronaldo was out of a film," Gaspart explained on the YouTube channel Idolos, per the Mirror.

"There was a problem because PSV backed out of selling him to us and included a clause in his contract that cancelled the transfer if the player didn't sign by a certain date.

"The days went by and Ronaldo's contract didn't arrive, so Jose Luis Nunez (the president before Gaspart) sent me to Miami, where the Brazilian national team were based, to make him sign it.

"I arrived and wasn't able to see Ronaldo very easily. There were some bouncers at his door in the hotel and they had orders not to let anyone through.

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"I couldn't beat the two-metre-tall bouncers up because they'd have sent my flying with a single punch, but something occurred to me.

"I managed to get a hotel waiter to lend me his bow tie and jacket and he gave me a tray with a Coca-Cola on it. I went up to the floor the team were on in the lift and there were two bouncers there. I told them I had a drink for Ronaldo and I went in.

"I introduced myself to Ronaldo and he called his agent and told them that he'd been caught. I told him that we'd complain if he didn't sign and, in the end, an agreement was sped up.

"We hugged on the bed in his hotel room and finalised everything."

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