From 1996 to 1998 the world transfer record fell four times.
Three times the player signed was a Brazilian. The fourth, Alan Shearer, has no Brazilian blood that we’re aware of (we’re happy to be proved wrong Alan).
But the three signings had various degrees of success. One was undoubtedly good, one was undoubtedly bad and one ended up being pretty ugly.
Whisper it quietly, but back in 1996 you could sign Ronaldo a 19-year-old for just £13.2million.
Having scored 42 goals in 47 league games for PSV Eindhoven Ronaldo made the switch to La Liga for a world record fee.
It wasn’t long before he was winning silverware.
Barcelona lifted the Spanish Super Cup in Ronaldo’s first season, with a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and Copa del Rey following in 1997.
His tally of 34 goals in 37 league games saw Ronaldo named the World Player of the Year for the first time, while he was also given the Pichichi, for Spain’s top goalscorer, and the European Golden Boot.
But after one season in Spain, under the great Sir Bobby Robson, Ronaldo decided to leave for a new adventure.
Fast forward two years and it was a different Brazilian making waves after moving to Spain- Denilson de Oliveira Araujo.
Real Betis broke the world transfer record by buying the winger from Sao Paulo in a £21.5mil deal, having watched him make a first-team debut at 17 and play for Brazil just three years later.
What did Denilson have in his locker? Stepovers, and plenty of them.
What didn’t Denilson have in his locker? Any sign of end product.
When the fog cleared and the stepovers stopped Betis were left wondering what they had to show for eight years of service, aside from relegation in 2000.
He never scored more than three goals in a season and was worked out almost straight away by La Liga defenders. Hopefully Betis kept the receipt.
Getting a strong sense of deja vu? That’s because in 1997 Ronaldo was again at the centre of a world record transfer.
This time he was leaving Barcelona for Inter Milan- tempted by the chance to test himself in Europe’s most difficult league.
His first two seasons were impressive, if slightly underwhelming on the trophy front with just the UEFA Cup added to his haul.
But in November 1999 something happened that would change Ronaldo as a footballer.
While playing Lecce Ronaldo tore tendons in his knee. His comeback, five months later, lasted just seven minutes and forced him to sit out the entire 2000/01 season.
When he came back the goals were still there but the explosiveness and carefree dribbling wasn’t the same.
Inter cut their losses and sold him to Real Madrid. What had started so beautifully ended up ugly.
Ronaldo still had the talent to thrive, but the sight of the Brazilian tearing down the pitch on a one-man mission to humiliate was all too rare.
Damn you, knees.