“When you play with him and see what he does with a ball, nothing surprises me any more. One of these days, he will make the ball talk.”
— Barcelona teammate Eiður Guðjohnsen.
Those are the perfect words that described what Ronaldinho could do with the ball when he is in his element.
Today’s Player Scope, we will be looking at one of the best players that played the game Ronaldo de Assis Moreira or ” Ronaldinho” as he was later known by football fans all over the world.
Ronaldinho was born in the city of Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul. His mother, Dona Miguelina Elói Assis dos Santos is a former salesperson who studied to become a nurse. His father, João de Assis Moreira, was a shipyard worker and footballer for local club Esporte Clube Cruzeiro.
He suffered a fatal heart attack in the family swimming pool when Ronaldinho was eight. After Ronaldinho’s older brother, Roberto, signed with Grêmio, the family moved to a home in the more affluent Guarujá section of Porto Alegre, which was a gift from Grêmio to convince Roberto to stay at the club. Roberto’s career was ultimately cut short by injury. Today, Roberto acts as Ronaldinho’s manager.
It was at Gremio that young Ronaldo began his football journey at the tender age of 8. It was also here that his name changed from Ronaldo to Ronaldinho because he was often the youngest and the smallest player in youth club matches.
He developed an interest in futsal and beach football, which later expanded to organized football. He caught the attention of the media and fans at the age of thirteen, when he scored all 23 goals in a 23–0 victory against a local team.
The Brazilian U17 team coach called on him immediately to become part of the team that played in the U17 FIFA World Championship in 1997, and they became the first Brazilian U17 team that won the competition.
Ronaldinho finished with two goals and was awarded the Bronze Ball award as Brazil scored a total of twenty-one goals while only conceding two.
In 1998, young Ronaldinho made his senior side debut for the Gremio club side during the 1998 Copa Libertadores.
1999 saw the emergence of the eighteen-year-old Ronaldinho, with twenty-three goals in forty-eight matches, and he put in headlining displays in derbies against Internacional, most notably on 20 June 1999 in the Rio Grande do Sul State Championship final.
In a match winning performance, Ronaldinho embarrassed Internacional’s Brazilian legend and 1994 World Cup winning captain Dunga, flicking the ball over his head on one occasion, and leaving him flat-footed in a mazy dribble on another, this was surely a sign of what was to come.
It didn’t take time for European clubs to come seeking the service of the young goofy tooth footballer from Gremio, Arsenal was the first to meet the lad in 2001 and they almost succeeded in acquiring the player but the move collapsed after he could not obtain a work permit because he was a non-EU player who had not played enough international matches.
PSG later approached Ronaldinho after consultation and negotiations, Ronaldinho signed a five-year contract with French side Paris Saint-Germain in a €5 million transfer.
Upon his arrival in Paris, Ronaldinho was given the number 21 shirt and inserted into a lineup that included fellow Brazilian Aloísio, midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha and striker Nicolas Anelka, but the European league and Brazilian league are two worlds apart, it will take the young Ronaldinho time to get used to the pattern and style.
Ronaldinho made his league debut for the club on 4 August 2001 appearing as a substitute in a 1–1 draw with Auxerre. Ronaldinho spent the majority of the 2001 portion of the season alternated between the bench and starter’s role.
He scored his first goal for the club on 13 October in a 2–2 draw against Lyon.
Ronaldinho was influential in the 2001–02 edition of the Coupe de la Ligue, helping Paris Saint-Germain reach the semi-finals where they were eliminated by Bordeaux. In a Round of 16 match against Guingamp.Despite Ronaldinho’s initial success with the club, the season was marred by controversy with Paris Saint-Germain manager Luis Fernández claiming that the Brazilian was too focused on the Parisian nightlife rather than football, and complained that his holidays in Brazil never ended at the scheduled times.
The rift between player and coach got wide and the player declared interest to leave, just at that moment, FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta who had promised to bring David Beckham to the club and failed following his transfer to Real Madrid, Barcelona entered the running for Ronaldinho and outbid Manchester United for his signature in a reported €30 million. The begining of an era.
Ronaldinho made his team debut in a friendly against Milan at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C., scoring one goal in a 2–0 victory. He scored his first goal in the La Liga on 3 September 2003 against Sevilla. Barcelona slumped to the 12th position in the league standings midway through the season. Ronaldinho returned from injury and scored 15 goals in La Liga, helping the team finish second in the league, he gained 145 appearances and scored 70 goals to his credit, bringing in the prestigious holygrail of football UEFA Champions League trophy.
With Barcelona, he won La Liga twice, the UEFA Champions League in 2006, and accumulated numerous individual awards, including the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005 and the Ballon d’Or in 2005. Ronaldinho was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the world’s greatest living players compiled by Pelé, and to the FIFPro World XI from 2005–2007.
In November 2005, Ronaldinho became the second Barcelona player to receive a standing ovation from Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu; after dribbling through the Madrid defence twice to score two goals in a 3-0 win, Madrid fans paid homage to his performance with applause.
His goal against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final competition in 2005 was tagged in the Champions League 50 best goals of all times, where he swirled his waist in a samba dance way and had Riccardo Carvalho, John Terry and Frank Lampard rooted to their feet while he placed the ball, with the 6feet 5inch Petr Cech starring in wonder as the ball found its way into the net.
The Brazilian player can be renownedly remembered for his techniques, tricks, dribbling, overhead kicks, no look passes and free kicks, his snake bite move is still been used by most players in the game.
His freekick against David Seaman of England in the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup brought to conclusion any sign of doubt regarding the legendary goalkeeper’s retirement from football.
“He transmits a lot of joy and pleasure playing the game, and he has individual skills that are of such a high level that everybody in the world adores him“. —Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard on Ronaldinho during the 2005-06 season.
Dida can still attest to the goal he scored against him in the UEFA Champions League game in San Siro where he shrugged off the ebullient Gennaro Gattuso with a snake bite move and faked Nesta and Maldini before lashing out a shot that changed the course of the game.
Having been a model professional and devoted himself to training during his hugely successful first three seasons at Barcelona, Ronaldinho’s partying lifestyle and lack of dedication to training saw his physical condition decline, with many at the club believing he was now past his best.
On 19 May 2008, Barcelona club president Laporta stated that Ronaldinho needed a “new challenge”, claiming that he needed a new club if he were to revive his career.
In July 2008, Ronaldinho turned down a £25.5 million offer from Manchester City to join Italian Serie A giants Milan on a three-year contract thought to be worth around £5.1 million (EUR6.5 million) a year, for €22.05M plus €1.05M bonus each season (€24.15M in 2010). With the number 10 already occupied by teammate Clarence Seedorf, he selected 80 as his jersey number.
After being heavily linked with a move back to his childhood club Grêmio, Ronaldinho joined Flamengo on 11 January 2011 with a contract ending in 2014. During the transfer saga, many reports had linked the former World Player of the Year to joining different clubs such as Los Angeles Galaxy, Corinthians, Palmeiras and English FA Premier League side Blackburn Rovers. He was greeted by more than 20,000 fans at his unveiling at his new club on 13 January 2011.
Ronaldinho lifted his first trophy with Flamengo after curling in a right-footed shot over the wall in the 71st minute at Engenhão stadium. The goal gave Flamengo its 19th Taça Guanabara title, which earned the Campeonato Carioca title two months later, as the team also won the Taça Rio.
Ronaldinho Gaúcho is currently a free agent having most recently played for Mexican club Querétaro.
The Brazilian forward’s main playing position is as an attacking midfielder or forward and is usually strong and fast with the ball. He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2004 and 2005. Ronaldinho is regarded to be one of the best players of his generation and for a very long time will be remembered for his smiles and prancing braids when he is on the move with the ball.