In the late nineties, Ronaldo was at the peak of his powers. Rightfully perceived as the world's greatest at that time - the Brazilian Striker, alongside his exuberant counterparts, entered the 1998 world cup in dazzling form and consequently rated amongst the hot favourites to lift the trophy come July.
Yet to this day, very few really understand what happened during the final on that night in 1998, which has perplexed the football world for twenty years. It was France, the hosts, against Brazil and it was the match in which the world would supposedly see the electric goal machine lift the Jules-Rimet Trophy and cement his undoubted talent as one of football's greatest ever players. However the match, during, before and after, took a completely different twist which caught the fans and the media well off guard - and still does to this day.
The confusion all started to unravel when the teamsheets were released. As the journalists and television companies browsed down the list of names, there was evidently one name missing. Ronaldo was replaced by Edmundo, on the greatest stage of them all. Without any inkling this was to be the case, the world were shocked to see the famous Brazilian not picked.
As time passed, the Stade de France was beginning to fill up with fans - and as the news filtered through that the Ronaldo was not to play, many questioned what on earth was going on. News was that he was unfit to play, due to an injury he picked up against the Netherlands but with little or no insight that this was the case, journalists started to debate this, questionning what the real reason for his exclusion was.
Bizarrely, as kick off loomed, a second team sheet for the match was released. This time, Ronaldo's name did feature and yes, he was now playing in the final. With the world's best now back in the mix, all eyes were on the Brazilian. A subdued looking Ronaldo came out onto the field but millions could tell something was not quite right - the pace, the vision and touch just wasn't there to see. It was as if an imposter was posing as the Brazilian, as every touch looked a little weary.
Ronaldo drifted during the match, looking overawed and unable to inflict any danger onto the hosts. Brazil lost 3-0 to a Zinedine Zidane inspired France and Ronaldo had lost his chance to win the world cup for a second consecutive time. As his teammates consoled him whilst he picked up his runners up medal, peoples thoughts soon transfixed on what happened to Ronaldo. What had happened pre match? Why was he not starting, then suddenely returned to the teamsheet? And why was he so off the pace during the worlds most significant football match? So many questions, so few answers.
As the days passed, news as to why Ronaldo had gone missing both on the teamsheet and on the field of play that sunny, July Sunday night started to filter through into the worlds consciousness. It transpired that Edmundo had replaced the Inter Milan ace that night because the previous day, Ronaldo had had a seizure. If true, it was baffling everyone as to how he would've been fit enough to play so soon after. However if true, it also explained why Ronaldo was so low key - the world could tell he wasn't in the right frame of mind.
Many conspiracy theories have circulated since 1998, regarding what really happened - including a demand by Nike that he was to play, purely for marketing reasons. A bizarre thought if this was the case and a somewhat surreal notion and indication of the power that the sportswear brand can possess over the sport. Theories and reasons aside, it remains a mystery which we may never truely understand. A night which promised so much for the young worldbeater, yet delivered so little.