The story behind Ronaldo’s 2002 World Cup haircut


Ah, the 2002 World Cup. Co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, the tournament brought so many shocks and surprises, but none had people talking more than the interesting haircut sported by Brazilian icon Ronaldo.

Widely seen as the best player in the world at the time, all eyes were on Inter hitman Ronaldo, who had featured in just ten Serie A games in the previous season because of a nasty knee injury.

Was he still the same player he used to be? Was he ready to lead one of the best Brazil teams in history?…What’s that on his head?

Having scored in every match in the group stage and then the last 16, Ronaldo definitely looked to be at his best, but when he came out to face Turkey in the semi-final, he could hardly have looked worse if he tried.

Ronaldo had taken the decision to shave most of his hair, leaving a bizarre triangle right at the front. It was horrible, and in an era in which wild hairstyles were in, this was way too far. What on earth was he thinking?

Well, as it turns out, Ronaldo’s haircut was actually part of a genius plan.

“I had an injury in my leg and everybody was talking about that,” Ronaldo said (via ESPN). “I decided to cut my hair and leave the small thing there. I come to training and everybody saw me with bad hair.

“Everybody was talking about the hair and forgot about the injury. I could stay more calm and relaxed and focused on my training. I’m not proud about the hair itself because it was pretty strange. But it was a good way to change the subject.”

How’s that for a 10,000 IQ play?

With the cameras away from his leg and focused on his forehead, Ronaldo netted the winner against Turkey and both goals in the final, firing Brazil to World Cup and earning himself a €46m move to Real Madrid soon after.

Looking back, Ronaldo has never been embarrassed to say what he felt about the haircut, which was inspired by a character named Cascão from Brazilian cartoon series Turma da Mônica. In fact, he openly admits he hates it, and he hated how many young fans replicated it – including Neymar.

“The haircut of Ronaldo was good. I had it!” Neymar revealed to Gerard Pique on The Players’ Tribune. “All of us, we were all looking like Ronaldo.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Ronaldo even specifically apologised to any mother who had to watch her child copy his hairstyle, but that pales in comparison to the apology he will have had to give his own mother.

“It’s very ugly that haircut, he would look much nicer if he just shaved it all off”, Sonia Nazario told La Nación (via AS). “[His own son] didn’t know who he was! He looked at him and couldn’t believe he was looking at his dad.”

Zero adoration from mothers. One World Cup.

Ronaldo is currently the focus of the brand new documentary series, ‘Ronaldo- El Presidente’. Having taken his talents from the pitch to the boardroom, the show follows his life as owner and president of Real Valladolid. You can watch the six-part series exclusively on DAZN now.

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