Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart recalled a particularly wild transfer story that involved him dressing as a waiter to sign Ronaldo Nazario.
There are literally hundreds of strange transfers that have gone down over the years, but Gaspart’s one for Barcelona may take the cake.
After bagging 54 goals in 57 games for Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven, Ronaldo was a man in demand with Barcelona and Inter Milan competing for his signature during the summer of 1996.
O Fenômeno (the phenomenon) was at the peak of his abilities with his pace, power, technical qualities and goalscoring prowess proving to be a lethal combination for opposition defences.
And now Gaspart, who worked as Barcelona president between 2000 and 2003, has opened up on a bizarre story that involves him posing as a waiter in the Brazilian national team hotel in Miami to sign Ronaldo.
“The signing of Ronaldo was out of a film,” Gaspart told YouTube channel Idolos.
“There was a problem because PSV [Eindhoven] backed out of selling him to us and included a clause in his contract that cancelled the transfer if the player didn’t sign by a certain date.
“The days went by and Ronaldo’s contract didn’t arrive, so Jose Luis Nunez [the president before Gaspart] sent me to Miami, where the Brazilian national team were based, to make him sign it.
“I arrived and wasn’t able to see Ronaldo very easily. There were some bouncers at his door in the hotel and they had orders not to let anyone through.
“I couldn’t beat the two-metre-tall bouncers up because they’d have sent my flying with a single punch, but something occurred to me.”
The ex-Barcelona chief added: “I managed to get a hotel waiter to lend me his bow tie and jacket and he gave me a tray with a Coca-Cola on it.
“I went up to the floor the team were on in the lift and there were two bouncers there. I told them I had a drink for Ronaldo and I went in.
“I introduced myself to Ronaldo and he called his agent and told them that he’d been caught. I told him that we’d complain if he didn’t sign and, in the end, an agreement was sped up. We hugged on the bed in his hotel room and finalised everything.”
Ronaldo went on to score a staggering 47 goals in 49 games during the 1996/97 campaign at Barcelona. He won the Copa del Rey, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the Supercopa de España.
The Brazilian icon was later named FIFA’s World Player of the Year and won the European Golden Boot.
However, Gaspart’s efforts ultimately ended in vain as Ronaldo left Barcelona after just one season due to failed negotiations over a contract renewal.