In 1993, aged 16, he had already scored 59 goals in 57 matches for Brazil's under 17 squad. By 1994 he joined the squad of the national team but didn't get to play a single minute on the pitch of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA.
Chosen the World's best player in 1996 and 1997 he had a disappointing performance during the 1998 World Cup, scoring only 4 goals, and losing the final to hosts France.
A year later he severely injured his right knee and was out of the game for several months. During his first comeback in 2000 he managed to play a few minutes during a league game against Lazio before injuring his knee for a second time.
After 2 operations and 20 months of rehabilitation, Ronaldo managed a comeback during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He scored 8 goals during the tournament (and tied with Pelé for a Brazilian record 12 total World Cup goals), leading Brazil to win an unprecedented fifth World Championship.