RONALDO: I’ve hardly stopped in these past few months. I’ve been doing two training sessions a day – morning and afternoon – which is quite an achievement, and it has been no problem. It’s been so great to kick a ball around again – I’ve missed it so much. I can now kick a ball reasonably gently and I’ve been able to take part in some little games, just kickabouts between friends, like you do when you’re a kid – two against two, three against three, that sort of thing. They know not to touch me, and that they have to let me score!

Do you have any idea when you will be ready for thereal thing?
It’s pointless trying to guess. I’ve been reading and hearing that I’m going to be back in March or April. All I’ll say is it doesn’t so much matter when I return – though it willbe before the start of the next season – as that I come back only when I’m truly ready. I can’t risk coming back too soon. I know Inter are waiting for me and I am very keen to help my team-mates getback on top, so waiting a little while longer will be worth it.

Inter really need you. They’ve had a nightmare without you.
Inter don’t need me as I am now. The team need the Ronaldo who can score goal after goal. We’ll just have to wait and see when I rejoin the side whether I’m the thing that will make the difference. It’s possible that even with me, things won’t go quite so well. But I’m pretty sure that together we are going to get back to the top and get into Europe.

Who has impressed you lately?
Figo is great and he deserved to get the Golden Ball (European Footballer of the Year award), and not just for last season. I know him well, we played together at Bar_a, and he’s been at the top for about five or six seasons. But I’d like to clear up something: I never said that Figo was better than Zidane. That’s what I was quoted as saying in Brazil, and they are words that I never even thought, let alone said. Everyone knows how highly I rate Zizou.

There was talk recently of Romario coming to Inter. The press and the fans were split on whether or not that would have been a good thing.What do you think?
I think he’d have been a great acquisition – just bear in mind the amount of goals he scores.

Who will win the scudetto?
Roma have surprised everybody, but I think eventually one of the giants will take it – Juve or Lazio. The big clubs always tend to win.

Have you already been planning how you’ll celebrate the first goal you’ll score on your return?
I’ve thought about it constantly. And I don’t care who it’s against, I’ll just be so over the moon. No one in the world wants to get back on the pitch as much as I do.

*The full interview with Ronaldo is available in the March 2001 issue of World Soccer.