By David Gold

Ronaldo 1_30_AprMay 1 - Brazil "must break" its record of never having won an Olympic football gold medal, legendary forward Ronaldo has insisted.

The Brazilian icon – the all time FIFA World Cup finals top scorer – was part of his country's bronze medal-winning side from Atlanta 1996 (pictured top).

"It was an amazing experience – Brazil played really well up to the semi-final when we were 3-1 up against Nigeria with 10 minutes to go," the 35-year-old former Real Madrid and Inter Milan striker recalled.

"Unfortunately the team fell asleep and managed to lose 4-3, and could not realise the dream of the gold medal."

Ronaldo said that his experience at the Games in Atlanta were totally different from his previous experience in the United States two years earlier, when he was part of the Brazil side which lifted the World Cup; he also triumphed in 2002 in South Korea and Japan.

For Brazil, the Olympic football tournament holds an extra significance given that – unlike other nations – the South American country does not have the added incentive of chasing the European Championship title which always takes place in the same year.

"My bronze medal is important – all athletes dream of an Olympic medal and for that reason [mine] is at home in an important place," said Ronaldo, holder of the World Cup finals goalscoring record with 15.

"I think that the Olympics are very important throughout the world for all athletes.

"Football is such a big passion worldwide that the World Cup is always going to be the most wanted trophy but the Olympics is such a good chance for the under-23 players, to promote these talents on the world scene.

"There is a lot of pressure [on Brazil] – it is the only title the Brazil team have not won so I think they are really motivated to win this and bring the title home."

Neymar profile_picture
One of the key men in its squad this summer is Santos' Neymar (pictured), one of the biggest talents in the world game.

There has been much debate in Brazil about when he should move across the Atlantic to Europe, but Neymar recently extended his contract with the Copa Libertadores champions.

The 20-year-old striker, along with midfield team-mate Paulo Henrique Ganso, will be optimistic he can lead Brazil to its maiden Olympic title.

"Neymar is currently the biggest talent we have in Brazil and I am sure he will have a big role to play at London 2012," said Ronaldo.

"The team overall is really strong, they won the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and I am sure they will do something big," added Ronaldo who said that Brazil and Great Britain would be the strongest two teams at the Games.

A number of Brazil's players who won the FIFA Under-20 World Cup last year in Colombia could go to London this summer.

Right back Danilo has since left Santos for Porto while Oscar could be another star – the young forward scored a hat-trick in the final in Colombia against Portugal, the first player to achieve that feat, and has since joined 2010 Copa Libertadores champion Internacional.

Henrique, who scored five goals in Colombia, is now playing for Granada in Spain while Vasco de Gama's all-action midfielder Rômulo and Internacional striker Leandro Damião, who has been linked with a move to Europe, are along the other highly rated talents on the long list for London.

Questioned by insidethegames, Ronaldo said that this generation has the talent to help Brazil to glory in 2014.

"Mine and Romário's generation won pretty much everything a Brazil team can win," he said.

"A new generation is beginning with Damião and Ganso, who have not won anything yet but I think in two years' time we will have a team ready to play a key role at the World Cup."

There is still debate as to who will coach that team on home ground in Brazil, with Mano Menezes under pressure after an underwhelming start in charge of the national team.

Although he has altered the functional style that predecessor Dunga, the 1994 World Cup-winning captain, had implemented and has the team playing more attractive football, Brazil still exited the Copa America in the quarter-finals on penalties to Paraguay last summer.

Another poor tournament this summer could put Menezes under pressure, with Luiz Felipe Scolari, coach of the victorious side at the 2002 World Cup and currently with Palmeiras, waiting in the wings should the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) opt to make a change.

Menezes is expected to make full use of the three players aged over 23 he is allowed to take to London, possibly by selecting two experienced centre backs, such as David Luiz, Luisão or Thiago Silva, while double World Player of the Year Ronaldinho harbours hopes of returning to the international fold.

Ronaldhino's talents could be just what the Brazil coach needs this summer because, as Ronaldo stated, "we really must break this taboo".

Menezes knows that better than anyone.

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