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Sunday, 1 September, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Loyalty dead in football?
Brazil's World Cup hero Ronaldo finally signs for Real Madrid after three years on Inter Milan's treatment table.
Is this proof, if proof were needed, that loyalty is finally dead in football?
The one consolation for the blue half of Milan in the wake of the World Cup was the Brazilian striker's sparkling return to form after three years of injury problems.
Ronaldo made just a handful of appearances while picking up a reported £4.1m a year and the fans used to sing "Never Give Up" to speed his recovery.
But Ronaldo has signed a four-year contract with Real which will cost the Spanish giants £22-28.5m.
Is loyalty now a thing of the past in football?
This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails appear below.
Would Inter have waited for Ronaldo if he was nothing special? Or would he have been replaced and thrown in the dustbin like all below-average footballers?
Ronaldo has no debt to pay anyone. He is a special player and has the right to play for whoever he wants too. I have also read that Real Madrid are giving him exactly the same salary as Inter Milan, so it's not because of money he left.
It was a personal reason and who can blame him? He will at least win something with Real Madrid.
Loyalty? Ronaldo's not even Italian, let alone a native of Milan. The club didn't sign him for his charm and winning personality, they wanted goals and to get their hands on some Champions League money.
At the top level of football, loyalty is a personal choice; lower down, a player is sometimes forced to make tough decisions for himself and his family in a relatively short career.
How can anyone with any honour take wages for three years for no return to his employee, an employee who stood by him, and then do what Ronaldo did? Very, very sad.
Ronaldo has bitten the hand that fed him for three years. It is outrageously arrogant behaviour. Inter Milan have been humiliated and cheated by this great but selfish player. Ronaldo should be ashamed of himself. He has lost a lot respect from a lot of people.
Players have loyalty to their agents, not their supporters. Besides, this news should not come as a surprise. Last season Real Madrid's chairman went on record to say that "The world's best players must play for Real Madrid". It seems he is a man of his word.
The question here should not be one of loyalty. Plenty of players are loyal to their clubs (Le Tissier, Vieira, Wayne Bridge, Owen, Shearer, Giggs, etc) and lots aren't.
The important point is to work out how Real, a club in debt, can manage to break the world transfer record every year. No-one has a chance of beating Real to the Champions League title this year.
Every time they get into financial trouble the Spanish government invents a semi-plausible scheme to give them hundreds of millions of euros. Can you imagine the outcry if Blair tried to subsidise Newcastle?
What Ronaldo did proved once and for all that there is surely no loyalty in football. Although I am not an Inter fan I sympathise with all those who are affiliated with the club.
Nothing would surprise me in football, ever since Mo Johnston moved to Rangers from his Bhoyhood heroes Celtic.
Loyalty is a two way street. If a club terminates a player's contract because of finances after years of service, where is their loyalty? Ronaldo is doing what anybody else would do in a normal working environment.
If you are injured your employee foots the bill. When you are better, you can do what you want. Loyalty isn't dead, but people are trying to live in a dream world.
Why should we be surprised? Gone are the days when kids grow up to play for their local club team. Look at the makeup of every big club side now and you will see that they are truly multinational. How can you expect these players to have the same pride in the jersey as, say, a Scouser playing for Liverpool? Money talks, I'm afraid, and this will continue!
Is anyone really surprised at this? Money dominates every aspect of modern life, not just football, and I bet half the folk complaining about what Ronaldo's done would've done the same if they were offered the obscene amount of money he'll get.
I am happy to see Ronaldo gone. His remaining time at Inter would have lowered the team spirit. Inter have done wisely in replacing him with Crespo, a player just as good and with fewer injury worries. I wonder what would happen if Inter win the Champions league, beating Real in the final - will Ronaldo want to come back?
Loyalty is alive and well and living in Southampton. On top of the obvious Matt Le Tissier, you have Jason Dodd who joined some 13 years ago, Frannie Benali (14 years), Matthew Oakley (seven years and still only 25) and young Wayne Bridge who has, so far, resisted calls by more wealthy clubs to stay with his home town club.
After the huge investment in Ronaldo by Inter, this must be a bitter pill to swallow. If it hadn't been for the Italian Club his career would surely have ended. To rupture a Patella Tendon and regain peak fitness is remarkable, even given today's medical support.
Therefore, to leave a club who saved your career having offered so little on the pitch is equalled only by the calculated act of running down a contract in order to become a free agent. On either count this new breed of 'loyalty' is testament to the modern football player.
Ask a player who has just been released from a club because they didn't need him anymore about loyalty. Any club that complains about loyalty should stop selling players who don't want to go. If Ronaldo was rubbish, Inter would have released him, but they expect loyalty because he's talented. It was the same with Rio at Leeds.
Money is not the issue here. Ronaldo will be earning pretty much the same at Madrid as he was at Inter. Zidane, Figo and Raul are three reasons why Ronaldo changed clubs. If you were him and you were given the chance to play along side those players would you turn it down?
Ronaldo is arguably the best player in the world, so you can hardly blame him for wanting to play for the best club in world. Loyalty is not the issue here - the boy just simply wants to play the best football he can for the best team he can. And who wouldn't?
Unfortunately for football, we have lost much of the loyalty and tradition that the great game was based upon. The reason is because football is now and industry rather than a sport. It is dictated by finance and law.
You can't blame the players, the money is there, the market offers it to them. Like any of us they are only seeking to get the best for them in their careers. If you were offered more money to join a bigger company with a better chance of success, what would you do?
Ronaldo is the best player in the world, but he is just a poor excuse for a human being. It's not just about loyalty; it's about human decency. I don't particularly like Inter, but what Ronaldo has done is disgraceful.
So what if Ronaldo has gone to Real Madrid. Everyone posting messages against him are all hypocrites, because if they were in his position they would do the same. Ronaldo is a great player and needs a greater stage to further his career.
I'm happy he has left Inter Milan, at least he will win something with Madrid. People talk about what Inter has done for Ronaldo, my question is, why did they go for him, was it because they loved him or was it because he generated money for them through merchandising??
Clubs treat players like trash, one minute they are important next minute they are replaced. Ronaldo, good luck in Madrid!
Why are players always blamed for a lack of loyalty? I notice that Real tried to offload Morientes as a makeweight in the deal. Clubs are just as happy to dump players as players are their clubs.
All I can say is that football is becoming very boring now! A Champions League that is not even a league of Champions anymore (it's become a joke!) Big clubs are trying to buy success rather than building solid foundations from their youth teams.
The wheel turns in mysterious ways, it will be a pleasure to see Ronaldo and the other prima donnas go empty handed at the end of the season. Look at the likes of Fiorentina and cash-strapped Lazio! Let's get back to basics, I see more fun, passion and enthusiasm down the local park!
Ask Morientes about loyalty. He's on the other end of all of this. Clubs are equally disloyal to their players. Three years of treatment and salary versus an outrageous transfer fee. Who wins when football is not about winning or losing, but about profit of loss.
Inter fans can rightfully be outraged...the least a player could do is give something back to a club that kept him a millionaire while he did nothing in return.
This behaviour is nothing new, however (though this is more high-profile than the rest), the transfer of Marc Overmars to Arsenal after he'd just signed a new contract while injured and Ajax had kept faith in him caused similar reactions among Ajax fans.
On a different note, Inter could just come out of this as the winner, offloading a player who's proven to be extremely injury prone over the years is not a bad business deal...
Though Inter got much more for Ronaldo now than they could have got a year or two ago, our sympathy goes with Inter. The club may have killed Ronaldo's career when he was suffering from injuries for that long time by terminating his contract then. But, that way Inter could not have received millions of Euros that they get now from Real.
In fact, given the recession in the transfer market, I think Ronaldo will not be priced this high after a year. But again, it is unfair for Ronaldo to leave Inter just when fans had great hope for him after seeing their beloved man perform well at the World Cup.
The fans were hoping he would bring some success at Inter too, but the hope is shattered. I hope Inter do best this season.
Every player dreams of joining Real. I don't find it shocking that Ronaldo wanted to join Figo, Zidane and his national team-mate Roberto Carlos.
I was not surprised that the Brazilian made the switch. Money plays a prominent role in the game of football nowadays. It's just sad, after all that Inter have done for Ronaldo in his trying moments.
As much as he needs make the necessary move, it was wrong timing for the two-time world footballer of the year. Watch it, Bernabau faithful! Ronaldo is in town to taste success, and if it fails to come? Manchester might be his next port of call.
Bet you anything Real don't win La Liga. Loyalty has gone to a certain extent but it's not dead. Come on Atletico!!
No-one seems to remember, Ronaldo used to play for Barcelona! What are they going to think about this?!
I think that football is not dead, but there is no loyalty in it anymore. Players like Tony Adams and Franco Baresi are gone. On the scene is a new sort of player, calling themselves "professionals". I call them mercenaries. They play only for money. Football is not dead, but is wounded, and only fans (they and journalists are the last hope for football) can save it.
What Ronaldo has done to Inter is a disgrace. For four years they paid for all his treatment, while he got a huge salary for nothing, and now that he can play again he wants to move. Players like him don't deserve the sort of money they get. These days all loyal fans get is a bunch of brats who only think of themselves. Unfortunately, football is dead.
Real is every player's dream. Who can blame Ronaldo, loyalty has nothing to do with it. If money was not the issue and the desire to win trophies, the sport would lose its identity.
Long ago were the days when loyalty was a part of soccer and now it's MONEY which dominates the game.
I think it is unfair to question Ronaldo's loyalty without knowing the real reasons that made him want to leave Inter Milan. Rumours say he had very personal reasons to leave Inter and Italy.
What's all this then, Ronaldo only did what was best for his career. You can hardly blame him for wanting to join the galaxy of stars at Real, just as much as Rio wanted to join Man Utd. Players like Ronaldo and Ferdinand only want to further their careers and can only achieve that by moving to a stronger team.
Hired monkeys playing to entertain paying monkeys. Watching the players kiss their badge after scoring is truly pathetic. Real, who spent the most money, won the Champions League last year. What a boring sport it is.
I find Ronaldo's behaviour nothing short of shocking. He's just gone and spat in the face of a football club that stood by and supported him through the most difficult stage of his career.
Loyalty as a whole is not dead in football; look at players like Beckham, Keane and Adams who could easily have left their respective clubs for more lucrative deals elsewhere. However, nowadays there are far more players, like Ronaldo, for whom money is more important than the team.
Football is about winning as much as possible in a short career, so that you can look back and think of the success you had. Look at Matt Le Tissier: brilliantly talented, but achieved nothing in all his years at Southampton.
Players like Figo and our very own McManaman angered their own fans and moved on, but now have European Cups and league titles to show for it. Admittedly, Ronaldo treated Inter particuarly badly, but in the same way that if Manchester United come calling on a player in the Premier League, it's often too good an offer to refuse.
The great players all want to play for the big clubs and win the important trophies. The fans will be quick enough to forget players when they're gone anyway and I for one want to see the best players playing together and to see some great games.
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