In the week in which Barcelona celebrated the 25th anniversary of Ronaldo Fenômeno’s great goal against Compostela, a revelation by the former president of the Catalan club Joan Gaspart about the five-time champion entered football’s historic behind-the-scenes records.
Gaspart told Spanish radio Noche, from Onda Cero, in an interview that he needed to disguise himself as a chamberlain to get to the former Brazilian player and consolidate the hiring of the then young ace in 1996.
“Ronaldo’s club [PSV] certainly regretted the transfer. There was a clause, which is very normal, which said that a contract with a club is not valid until the player signs it. He lived in Brazil, was on the Brazilian team, we had already signed with the club [PSV], but not with the player. We had everything agreed, but still needed to sign. And the clause existed so that, if the player had not signed on a certain date, the contract would be void”, began the then vice-president of Barça in 1996.
Joan says that she had to surround the phenomenon in order to be able to talk to him in the hotel room where the phenomenon was staying.
“I believe that PSV, together with the Brazilian national team’s head of delegation, did the impossible for me not to meet Ronaldo, nor to get close to him. The two ‘gorillas’ [seguranças] that were next to the elevator, the smallest one measured about two and a half meters… I didn’t even try, I went up a few times and I didn’t even leave the elevator”, she reports.
With the difficulty of making contact with shirt 9, the manager came up with the idea of pretending to be a valet and claiming that some player had ordered a drink in order to talk to Ronaldo and go through the security guards.
“But when an ’employee’ came to say that they had placed an order from the bedroom, the two [seguranças] who were by the elevator thought that ‘well, a player had ordered a Coke’ and let me pass. I went straight to Ronaldo’s room with my Coca Cola and my tray. From then on, Ronaldo signed for Barcelona in his bedroom bed”, he added.
Even after having completed the ‘impossible mission’ of getting through security, Gaspar recalled that he still had to convince the player that he was really the then vice-president of the Spanish club.
“He didn’t know me. He called his manager and said ‘there is a gentleman here’ and he ‘hands him the phone’. Ronaldo gave me the phone and I spoke to him [empresário, Juan Figer] and I said to him ‘listen, I had to do this’. And he ‘no problem, give Ronaldo the phone and I’ll tell him it’s you’. And then Figer said: ‘Ronaldo, you can easily sign.’ He signed it and I hid the contract in my clothes, so the ‘gorillas’ wouldn’t see it. Then I met the head of the Brazilian delegation and said to him: ‘We have two solutions: one, tomorrow I will call a press conference and present Ronaldo as the new player with a contract in hand; another one, Ronaldo, you and I introduced Ronaldo as the new Barcelona player and we were all fine”, he concluded.
As it is already in history, the second option was put into practice. Ronaldo played in the 1996/1997 season for Barcelona and scored 47 goals in 49 games, with the right to be top scorer in the Spanish Championship in that edition with 34 goals.
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