Sat, May 17, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Bruised Ronaldo tells of Champions League pain

AP , MADRID

Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo described Real Madrid's defeat against Juventus in a thrilling Champions League semifinal as his "saddest day" so far with the Spanish powerhouse.

"It was the saddest day since I've been with Real Madrid because I saw my team suffer and I suffered because in my condition I could not help," Ronaldo said on the club's web site, www.realmadrid.com yesterday.

Ronaldo sustained a calf injury in the first leg against Juventus which Madrid won 2-1. He was brought on as substitute in the return match Wednesday but was unable to avert a 3-1 loss to the Italian side and a 4-3 defeat on aggregate. He hobbled off the pitch at the end of the game.

"All sacrifices were worth it for that match," Ronaldo said in defense of coach Vicente del Bosque. "Playing me wasn't precipitated because the match was the most important of the season. The coach picks a team and I think he nearly always gets it right."

In his spell on the pitch Wednesday, Ronaldo was awarded a penalty but Madrid's Luis Figo hit the ball weakly and Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon palmed it away with ease.

Ronaldo was contracted by Real Madrid this season as part of the club's bid to win it's 10th Champions cup.

"Now, we must think only of the league and go for it," Ronaldo said.

But the Brazilian ruled himself out for Madrid's weekend domestic league match against Malaga.

"Thursday, I felt the same injury. I will have to rest to recuperate strength and help the team in the matches that remain to try to win the league," Ronaldo said.

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