Former Barca president went to great lengths to sign Brazilian Ronaldo after failing to secure their original choice Alan Shearer.
Barcelona went to untold lengths in order to secure the signing of PSV sensation Ronaldo, with the club's vice-president even resorting to disguises in order to seal the deal.
Back in 1996 the Brazilian, 19, was on the verge of breaking out among the world's football elite, having scored 54 goals in 57 games with the Dutch team in his two seasons and also looking to make a place in the Brazil national team.
Sir Bobby Robson, a football legend and then Barcelona coach, was paying close attention to the star striker. "He was still only 19 but I told Barcelona we must have him, that we would be buying not only a wonderful player, but a player for the future," he was quoted as saying in the book Barca: A People's Passion.
While Barca were not lacking in financial muscle, it was proving difficult for them to get close to Ronaldo. Enter Joan Gaspart, Josep Nunez's No. 2 at Camp Nou and later president in his own right. The official came up with a novel way to break the ring of steel around Barca's transfer target and convince him into a move.
"I even had to disguise myself to seal his signature," Gaspart told Goal.com.
"It didn’t take long to reach agreement with PSV. The fee back then was 1,500,000,000 pesetas - around €15 million in today’s money.
"But the agreement had a little problem: we needed to get the player’s agreement and we needed it before July 15, because that was when the pact with PSV was set to expire."
PSV, not wanting to lose their top player, got cold on the deal with Barca and urged the CBF (Brazil football federation) to stop the deal from happening. Gaspart however had no idea of PSV’s intentions when he travelled to Brazil to seal the deal.
“There were two security guards that didn’t want me to go through and see Ronaldo or any other player. I met a Spanish waiter in the hotel and he lent me his work clothes, gave me a tray and a Coca-Cola.
“I put on the disguise, said 'hello' to the security guards and told them a guest had asked for a soft drink. This time they let me past.
"I knocked on Ronaldo’s door and he himself opened it. He signed the contract right there, on the bed."
Ronaldo went on to spend just one season at Camp Nou, but he lit up Camp Nou with an impressive 47 goals in 49 appearances winning three trophies including the UEFA Cup winners’ cup with Barca in his first and only season.