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Feb 20, 2006

Ronaldo drops departure bombshell on Real

MADRID, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Brazil striker Ronaldo paved the way for his departure from Real Madrid at the end of the season by saying he has never felt loved by the club's fickle fans.

'The fans have never accepted me and their reaction is something to take into account when thinking about my future,' the three times World Player of the Year told a news conference on the eve of Real's Champions League match against Arsenal.

'I've always said that I don't want to be where I'm not loved. I've never felt at home at the Bernabeu, the fans have never treated me with affection.

'I will make a decision at the end of the season. After all the effort I made to come to this club I don't understand why I'm treated like this,' the 29-year-old added angrily on Monday.

'I will decide on my future after the World Cup.'

Ronaldo joined Real for 35 million euros ($41.79 million) from Inter Milan following a brilliant performance at the 2002 World Cup. He is under contract at Real until 2008.

Although he has been the club's leading scorer in every season since joining Real he has never managed to win a place in the hearts of the notoriously fickle Madrid fans.

He was whistled by a section of Real supporters when he was replaced by new signing Antonio Cassano after he failed to score during a 3-0 win over Alaves at the weekend.

This season he has struggled with a succession of injuries and has faced regular criticism from the press over his fitness and weight.

He has not appeared for Real in their present Champions League campaign, missing their first two group games because of a ban and the rest through injury.

LITTLE PATIENCE

'I've thought about the way I'm treated and spoken with thousands of people, but I have never understood why the fans have so little patience with me,' Ronaldo said. 'As soon as I make an error people jeer me.

'The Madrid fans are very special and they seem to get motivated by the idea of an impossible comeback win, but in a goalless draw in the league they start getting on our backs. We need fans that will support us all the time.

'I don't know how the fans will react to what I said but, to be honest, I don't care.'

Ronaldo said he had made no concrete plans to leave Real as yet but made clear that his departure was on the cards.

'I still haven't thought about leaving Real Madrid yet. At the end of the season I will make a decision. The president knows how I feel and why I'm sad about this.

'If I decide to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season then all options will be open.'

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