PERSON OF INTEREST: Ronaldinho Gaúcho

Football is about joy. It’s about dribbling. I favour every idea that makes the game beautiful. Every idea has to last~Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho (real name Ronaldo de Assis Moreira) finally hang his boots after a full illustrious career in top level football. A lively entertainer always with a smile on his face, the talented Brazilian did mesmerizing things with the ball at his feet, and made all of us love football. At 37 years now, it all seems too soon for the legend whose charisma, trickery, super foul kick and sweet goal strikes goals made all soccer lovers watch in awe and applaud at one of the world’s finest talents in action.

Ronaldinho.jpg

An attacking midfielder who could be deployed both as a forward and or winger, he dictated play from deep his half, twisting past opposing players, with flicks, lobs, multiple nutmegs and no-look passes all rounded in one. Starting his career back in 1998, 2018 marked 20 years in football, and boy did he enjoy everyday, kicking the ball and making awesome loads of money.

Ronaldinho featured for Gremio, PSG,  Barcelona, Milan and Fluminense clubs amongst other clubs. Initially, he played in Brazil’s u-17 (1997) where they emerged FIFA World Cup winners. His footballing prowess come into more limelight a year later when he featured for Brazil in 1999 and helped the Samba Boys win the FIFA Confederations Cup. Then featuring for Brazil’s local side Gremio (1998-2001), the big boys came calling and PSG got his signature and services (2001-2003). There, he featured in 55 games and scored 17 career goals. Barcelona signed him in 2003 for club free record, and he featured in 145 games for the La Liga giants. He mesmerized the soccer world in the Spanish league, scoring 70 goals, enabling Barcelona win 2 La Liga cups, and Champions League between 2003-2007. He departed for AC Milan-Italy (2008-2011).

Ronaldinho playing for AC Milan.jpg
Ronaldinho playing for Italian league giants AC Milan.

He also featured for  Flamengo-Brazil (2011-2012), Atletico Mineiro (2012-2014), Fluminense-Brazil (2015).

At age of 17, he was already representing the Brazil’s national team as a key member. He consistently represented Brazil,  playing for the U-20, U-23 before the senior call up in 1999. He wore 97 senior caps for Brazil, scoring 33 goals in the international duty for country. Featuring in the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in Korea and Japan, he starred alongside Ronaldo and Rivaldo, forming a fearsome front three that enabled the Samba Boys lift the coveted cup. He helped beat bitter arch-rivals Argentina 4-1 and lift the Confederations Cup in 2005.

Some Legendary Moments

Rare applaud at Santiago Bernabéu’s El Clasico

El Classico.jpg
El Classico performance in 2005 that got the Real Madrid fans applaud Ronaldinho for his examplary performance in the La Liga win

Ronaldinho brought back greatness to Barcelona after a long time of Real Madrid dominance. Playing some of his best football in the second season at Barcelona, he dazzled the spectators with a spectacular performance at Santiago Bernabeu, scoring two goals in th El Clasico (19th November, 2005). He was just too good, overshadowing the Galacticos assembly of Beckham, Zidane, Raul and others and win the hearts of the  rival team fans. Never again, has such a feat been repeated, since Diego Maradona’s standing ovation back in 26th June, 1983.

Wonder strike against Seaman

Ronaldinho strike against England
The famed curling kick
Ronaldinho of Brazil celebrates scoring the winning goal
Celebrating the winning goal for Brazil, after beating the helpless Seaman

It is a moment England’s former international would love to forget but we will keep on reminding him. In the 2002 World Cup,then Brazil playing against England for semi-final spot, Ronaldinho sweet strike embarrassed England. Standing over 35 yards out to the right of England’s goal, he curled a free kick over the stopper into the top corner of the goal. Seaman, out-thought, wrong footed and beaten could do nothing about it as Brazil secured a well fought 2-1 victory and booked a place in the semi-finals, at England’s expense.

Awards

Awards.jpg
Winner of the Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball): Ronaldinho, then named Best Footballer of the Year (2005).

He is one of the eight players who have won the EUFA Champions League, FIFA World Cup and Ballon d’Or. Other players (no simple fete include Bobby Charlton (England), Paolo Rossi (Italy), Gerd Muller (Germany), Franz Backenbauer (Germany),  Rivaldo (Brazil), Kaka (Brazil), Zidane (France). Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal) are still short of such accolades, despite their dominance in personal awards, year in and out.

So long…

Still got it R.jpg
Man of the Match: So long…he still got it!

As we bid our good byes, Ronaldinho will forever be in our hearts, and thank you to TV, You Tube and Sport journalists, we shall keep on flipping, re-watching and sharing the magic moments of one of the greatest football talents in our lifetime, after Pele, Maradona, John Cruyff, John Best…

 

 

 

 

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