Sao Paulo:With goal after goal in Brazil, Ronaldo is showing he remains one of the best strikers in the world.
Despite not being completely fit after spending more than a year sidelined because of the third serious knee injury of his career, Ronaldo is leaving his mark in Brazilian football, even showing signs of the form that made him a three-time FIFA player of the year.
The 32-year-old striker is thriving with Corinthians, and has already scored eight goals in nine matches since returning to competitive football in March.
His performances have prompted calls by fans and local media for his return to the national team.
"This is an answer to those who said I was an exhibition player, a marketing move," Ronaldo said. "I'm the happiest man in the world, I'm doing what I like to do. The most important thing to me is to be playing football."
Ronaldo's latest goals were scored in style on Sunday in the first leg of the Sao Paulo state championship, when Corinthians beat Santos 3-1 to stay one match away from the title. It can win the title even with a two-goal loss next week.
The striker showed his skill with a difficult first touch that set up a left-footed shot for his first goal in the first half, then used a nifty back-heel dribble to get past a defender and clip a delicate lob shot from outside the area over Santos goalkeeper Fabio Costa.
Even Pele _ a former Santos player who watched the match at the Vila Belmiro stadium _ was quick to praise Ronaldo.
"It was a goal worthy of Pele, a goal worthy of a World Cup," Pele said. "He makes a difference. I'm glad I got to see a goal like that."
Ronaldo, the all-time leading World Cup scorer with 15 goals, was thrilled to perform well in front of Pele.
"It was nice to be the king for a day in the King's house," the 32-year-old Ronaldo said.
Ronaldo, who had already scored a decisive goal in the semifinal against Sao Paulo, became the biggest attraction in Brazilian football after signing with Corinthians last December.
He was visibly overweight and struggling to regain his fitness, but when he finally made his debut, it was in dramatic fashion, scoring a last-minute goal against rival Palmeiras.
Ronaldo scored again against Sao Caetano in his first match as a starter, and has continued to impress since then.
He missed only three matches to rest, but says his knee has not bothered him at all since the surgery after the February 2008 injury sustained while playing with AC Milan in the Italian league.
"Each goal I score I lose 1 kilogram," Ronaldo joked as he continues to try to get back to his best physical shape. "Hopefully I'll lose a lot of weight in the coming matches."
The striker has said he wants to score 30 goals this year with Corinthians, which would certainly catch the attention of Brazil coach Dunga.
"Nobody comes close to the Ronaldo of today," Lance columnist Eduardo Tironi said. "He deserves to be summoned."
One of Ronaldo's objectives is to return to the national team in time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
"Only Dunga can evaluate if I deserve to be in the national team," Ronaldo said. "If what I'm doing with Corinthians is enough, I'll be proud to return."
Ronaldo began his European career with PSV Eindhoven in 1994 and went on to play for continental powerhouses FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and AC Milan.