Brazil icon, Ronaldo has apologised to the mother of any children who copied his notorious 2002 World Cup haircut, which was a ridiculous half shaved head with a tuft of hair left at the front.
Ronaldo sported the dodgy trim for Brazil’s World Cup semi-final against Turkey and then the final itself against Germany. He scored all of Brazil’s three goals across those two games to win the World Cup, land the Golden Boot and complete his redemption from four years earlier.
Ronaldo’s celebrations after each goal against Turkey and Germany remain among the most enduring memories in World Cup history, but he sported the questionable trim in all of them.
He was the best player in the world at the time, back to his electrifying unplayable self after nearly four years of injury misery, and young fans all over the world were desperate to be him. That meant copying everything, from attempting the lightning quick stepovers to getting the haircut.
Looking back, Ronaldo has now told Sports Illustrated, “[It was] horrible! I apologise to all the mothers who saw their kids [get] the same haircut.”
There was a logic to the madness, though. Ronaldo has admitted it became a diversion tactic to distract media attention away from a minor injury he had suffered before facing Turkey.
Four years earlier in France, it was Ronaldo’s World Cup. He was only 21 at the time but had already twice been the most expensive player in history and had been crowned the best player in the world by FIFA in both 1996 and 1997.
In the hours before the final against France, Ronaldo suffered a mystery convulsive fit. He was initially withdrawn from the starting lineup, before being reinstated. But he was clearly not himself on the pitch and Brazil were crushed by the hosts in a 3-0 defeat.
After years of crippling injuries, 2002 was Ronaldo’s renaissance on the world stage.
Although it seems the haircut before the Turkey semi-final may have initially been intended as a quick joke to laugh with his teammates, once journalists caught wind of it, it was all they could talk about and any concerns over the player’s fitness were quickly forgotten.
“I did the haircut. I saw my teammates and asked, ‘Do you like it?’ They said, ‘No, it’s horrible! Cut this off!’ But the journalists saw my haircut and forgot about the injury,” Ronaldo said.