Ronaldo de Assis Moreira aka Ronaldinho. Football’s true maestro of the modern era :)

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Behold, Ronaldinho! One of the world’s favorite football maestros, and of course a buck toothed hearth throb too.

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho (and at times as Ronaldinho Gaucho) is a Brazilian footballer and one of Brazil’s most renown football maestros. He plays mainly as a forward and as an attacking midfielder, occasionally playing on the wings. Having been awarded the FIFA World Player of the Year award twice in 2004 and 2005, He is renowned for his technique, tricks, dribbling, overhead kicks, no-look passes and free kicks, Ronaldinho is regarded to be one of the best players of his generation, and the best ball juggler the world has ever seen.

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Ronaldinho, in the arms of his elder brother Roberto.

Ronaldinho was born on March 21, 1980 in Porto Alegre, the state capital of RIo Grande de Sul in Southern Brazil (Home to a large white-Brazilian population). His mother Miguelina Eloi Assis dos Santos, was a former salesperson who studied to become a nurse. His father, Joao de Assis Moreira, was a shipyard worker and footballer for local club Esporte Clube Cruizeiro  (not to be confused with the larger Cruzeiro Esporte Club, commonly known as Cruziero. Joao de Assis Moreira suffered a fatal heart attack in the family swimming pool when Ronaldinho was eight years old. When Ronaldinho’s elder brother Roberto de Assis Moreira signed with Gremio, the family moved to a home in the more affluent Guaruja section of Porto Alegre, which was a gift from Gremio to convince Roberto to stay at the club, but Roberto’s career was ultimately cut short by injury. Today, Roberto acts as his manager, while his sister Deisi works as his press coordinator.

Ronaldinho’s football skills began to blossom at the age of eight. He first had developed an interest in Futsal (indoor football) and beach football, which later expanded to organized football. His first brush with the media came at the age of 13, when he scored all 23 goals in a 23–0 victory against a local team.Ronaldinho was identified as a rising star at the 1997 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Egypt, in which he scored two goals on penalties.

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Ronaldinho, practicing his ball juggling skills in the backyard of his old home while his elder brother Roberto looks on.

Ronaldinho’s nickname means Young Ronald, or at times Baby Ronald because he was youngest in his group of friends. his earliest experience of football was juggling football on the beaches of Porto Alegre with his friends. he usually made a football out of socks and dirty laundry because before his elder brother signed for Gremio, footballs were a bit expensive. even a leather ball wasn’t so easy to practice with. the reason Ronaldinho would juggle on beaches was because it was not only hard to dribble the ball on the beach, but also the juggling helped him improve his ball control. He also credits his elder brother for infusing the discipline inside him and helping him learn the skills.

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Ronaldinho, in his childhood days when he was part of the youth setup of Gremio.

“I’ve worked with some great players in my time and all at a very interesting period in their careers, nineteen to twenty years old. But, with due respect to the others, Ronaldinho was a cut above the rest.”

— Grêmio coach Celso Roth

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Ronaldinho began his days as a footballer from the youth setup of Gremio Football Club in his native Porto Alegre. He made his senior debut with Gremio in the year 1998 at the age of 17 or 18 in the 1998 Copa Libertadores. In 1999, the 18 year Ronaldinho emerged as one of Brazil’s rising superstars scoring 23 goals in 48 appearances. He even made headlining displays in matches against city rivals Sporting Club Internacional in the Porto Alegre derby. On 20th June, 1999 in the Rio Grande de Sul State Championship Final, he embarrassed Internacional and National Team legend Dunga in match winning performance, flicking the ball over his head on one occasion and leaving Dunga flat footed with mazy dribble in the other helping Gremio win the match. he went on to win trophies and success with Gremio, winning the inaugural Copa Sul-Minas.

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Ronaldinho leaving Dunga flatfooted.

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Ronaldinho flicking the ball over Dunga, literally embarrassing him.

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Whoever thought Ronaldinho would be a buck toothed scrawny kid back in the day with Gremio. this was taken in 1998.

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Ronaldinho during his early days as a Gremio player.

Arsenal expressed interest in signing Ronaldinho in 2001, but the move collapsed as he could not obtain a work permit because he was a non-EU player who had not played enough international matches. He considered playing on loan with Scottish Premier League side St. Mirren, which never happened due to his involvement in a fake passport scandal in Brazil. But despite all that, he made the trans-Atlantic jump to the French Ligue 1 signing with Paris-St.Germain F.C.

 

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Ronaldinho during the 2001-02 Ligue 1 season, celebrating a goal.

 

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Ronaldinho, during his early days with Paris-St. Germain

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Ronaldinho during the 2002-03 season with PSG

 

Ronaldinho signed a five year contract with Paris-St.Germain in 2001, and was given the number 21. he was on a squad that included fellow Brazilian Aloisio, Nigerian Captain Jay-Jay Okocha and French striker Nicolas Anelka. much of his first season at PSG ended in rotating roles between the bench and the starting XI, he made his debut against Auxerre in August 2001 and scored his first goal 2 months later in October against Olympique Lyon, with a well taken penalty kick in the 79th minute. He even helped PSG to a semi finals finish in the French Cup (aka Coupe de la Ligue) where they were eliminated by Girondins de Bordeaux. Despite his initial success, manager Luis Fernandez criticized Him for enjoying the Parisian nightlife more than football and also that his holidays in Brazil never ended. Despite the rifts, he returned for the 2002-03 season and scored two goals in 3-1 win over Olympique de Marseille: the first being a free kick and the second one coming from a series of daft magic dribbles past OM defenders. Despite his showings, the capital club finished 11th in the Ligue 1 and Ronaldinho subsequently declared that he wanted to leave the club as PSG did not qualify for any European tournament.

But before we could jump to his second club, he was selected for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which he won and his countryman Ronaldo becoming the tournament’s leading scorer. Ronaldinho is remembered for his free-kick against England, which he had scored from 30 yards out and beat the 6 foot 3 inch tall English keeper David Seaman. Seaman was left in tears but was consoled by Ronaldinho, proving the Brazilian is a gentleman of a player. Brazil beat Turkey, Costa Rica and China 2-1, 5-2 and 2-0 respectively in the group stages, beat Belgium 2-0 in the round of 16, beat England 2-1 in the quarterfinals, overturned Turkey 1-0 in the semi-finals and eventually winning the final 2-0. Ronaldinho was suspended for the semi final but made it to the final, celebrating a famous victory for his beloved country and winning the world cup.

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Ronaldinho of Brazil

YOKOHAMA – JUNE 30: Ronaldinho of Brazil celebrates after the Germany v Brazil, World Cup Final match played at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan on June 30, 2002. Brazil won 2-0. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)

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Ronaldinho at FC Barcelona

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Ronaldinho scoring against Real Madrid, beating Iker Casillas.

 

 

Ronaldinho signed for FC Barcelona, rejecting English Premier League side Manchester United (who had sold David Beckham to Real Madrid the same year) for a fee worth 30 Million Euros.

 

Ronaldinho made his team debut in a friendly against A.C Milan at Robert F.Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C., U.S.A, scoring one goal in a 2–0 victory. He scored his first goal in the Spanish Premiera Liga on 3rd September 2003 against Sevilla F.C. After receiving the ball from his goalkeeper inside his own half, Ronaldinho ran through midfield and dribbled past two Sevilla players before striking the ball from 30 yards which hammered off the underside of the crossbar and back up into the roof of the net. Ronaldinho however suffered an injury during the first half of the campaign, and Barcelona slumped to 12th in the league standings midway through the season. Ronaldinho returned from injury and scored 15 goals in La Liga, helping the team ultimately finish second in the league.

He won the 2004-05 season with FC Barcelona, winning the player of the season award as well. That season also marked the debut of Argentine maestro Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho won the FIFA Player of the year award in December 2004. Barcelona were however, eliminated in the UEFA Champions League by Chelsea in March 2005, where Barca lost 5-4 in both legs but Ronaldinho scored 2 in the 2nd leg with one of the goals where he feinted a shot before scoring the goal by sending the defenders wrong way. he signed a two year extension in September 2005, the deal containing a minimum-fee release clause that allowed him to leave should a club make an offer to Barcelona of at least £85 million for him.

Ronaldinho won two straight titles in his first two seasons at FC Barcelona, notching numerous awards and honors (He won the inaugural FIFPro player of the year award), added to the FIFPro world XI and winning the European player of the year award as well as being nominated for the FIFA World Player of the year the second consecutive time, beating Frenchman Zinedine Zidane. Apart from that, he also won the 2006 UEFA Champions League helping FC Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1 in the final hosted in Paris. That win was Ronaldinho’s first ever UEFA Champions League title alongside the Copa Del Rey and Spanish Premiera Liga of 2005-06, finishing with a season tally of 26 goals, named in the UEFA team of the year, 2005-06 UEFA Club footballer of the year, named in the six man shortlist for the 2006 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year and selected in the FIFA World XI.

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FC Barcelona Celebrating the 2006 UEFA Champions League title

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“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

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Ronaldinho and Frank Rijkaard, while on visit to the John F.Kennedy space center in Houston, U.S.A in July 2007 during FC Barcelona’s tour of the USA.

“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 Eidur Gudjohnsen on Ronaldinho, December 2006

 

2006-07 was a different season for Ronaldinho, many attribute it to his overconfidence after winning the UCL and also to the fact that Brazil finished as quarterfinalists in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Ronaldinho scored his 50th goal for FC Barcelona against Villareal and the 51st against the same with an overhead kick. he scored once and set up two goals in Barca’s 4-0 win over Club America in the FIFA Club World Cup but lost the final 1-0 to Sporting Club Internacional. Ronaldinho was the recipient of the Bronze Ball Award for the competition.

The next day, Ronaldinho finished third in the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Yearbhind Italy’s world cup winning Captain Fabio Cannavaro and Frenchman Zinedine Zidane. Ronaldinho was forced to miss a charity match on 13 March due to an injury he had picked up several days earlier in Barcelona’s 3–3 El Clásico draw with Real Madrid. Although Ronaldinho scored his career-best 21 league goals, the team lost the title to Real with a worse head-to-head record, as both teams finished the season with the same number of points.

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He had played his 200th career match for Barca in 2007-8 season, which was a season to forget. his season ended prematurely. his focus on modelling put his fitness into doubt, many considering him past his prime. Thaksin Sinawatra, who owned Manchester City at that time was interested in acquiring him but he rejected the offer.

A few clips showing Ronaldinho’s skills are as under.

 

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Ronaldinho in 2006 (left) and in 2008 (right). in the 2007-08 season Ronaldinho’s fitness was the center of doubt, with his belly becoming literally flabby.

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Ultimately, Ronaldinho left the club and joined A.C Milan in July 2008 on a three year contract, a deal thought to be worth around £5.1 million (€6.5 million) a year, for €22.05M plus €1.05M bonus each season (€24.15M in 2010). He was given number 80, as team mate Clarence Seedorf had the number 10 jersey.

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Ronaldinho, in November 2008 for A.C Milan.

His first season for A.C Milan was a bit blunt. his fitness was in concern due to late night partying and lack of dedication in training. in 32 appearances, he had scored 10 goals in 32 appearances and despite a good start, he often ended up on the bench and was used as a substitute very often. Carlo Ancelotti, his coach at Milan in his first season in Italy once commented: “The decline of Ronaldinho hasn’t surprised me. His physical condition has always been very precarious. His talent though has never been in question.”

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He didn’t start his second season brightly, again due to a lack of fitness. but he made it by leaps and bounds and rediscovered his true form later on. he changed his position from attacking midfielder to left winger, which was more familiar for him. He was Milan’s best player that season and was the assists leader in the 2009-10 Serie A season. He did play against Manchester United and gave A.C Milan the lead but Milan lost 3-2 with Paul Scholes scoring once and Wayne Rooney scoring twice.

He left Milan in 2011, but his legacy did not end there folks. throughout his career in Europe, he appeared in many different ads notably Nike and Pepsi.

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He returned to Brazil in January 2011, and despite offers from boyhood side Gremio he joined Rio de Janeiro side Flamengo. He was linked to Blackburn Rovers, Corinthians, Palmeiras and the Los Angeles Galaxy.He was greeted by more than 20,000 fans at his unveiling at his new club on 13 January 2011.

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Ronaldinho unveiled in front of fans upon signing with Flamengo. Flamengo is based in Rio de Janeiro, one of the world’s most colorful cities.

Ronaldinho scored his first goal for Flamengo in the 3–2 victory against Boavista on 6 February 2011. On 27 February, he converted a second-half free kick for Flamengo to beat Boavista 1–0 and win his first piece of silverware with the team, the Taca Guanabara. Ronaldinho lifted his first trophy with Flamengo after curling in a right-footed shot over the wall in the 71st minute at Ergenhao 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 Taca Rio. On 27 July 2011, Ronaldinho scored a hat-trick in Flamengo’s 5–4 away win against rivals Santos, after being 3–0 down inside the first 30 minutes. On 31 May 2012, after being absent for a few days, he sued Flamengo claiming lack of payment for four months and cancelled his contract with the club; a thing that commonly happens in Brazilian football.

 

 

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Ronaldinho during a press conference while unveiled at Atletico Mineiro.

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Ronaldinho unveiled at Atletico Mineiro

 

His best days of Brazilian football after Gremio began with Atletico Mineiro. Ronaldinho joined it on 4th June 2012 in a six-month contract, just four days after leaving Flamengo. He wore number 49 in reference to his mother’s birth year since his preferred number 10 was already assigned to Guilherme in the 2012 season. and this was the beginning of one of his finest days of Brazilian football.

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Ronaldinho made his debut for Atletico Mineiro on 9th June 2012, playing for 90 minutes in a 1–0 away win against Palmeiras, and scored his first goal for the club on 23 June 2012 against Nautico, from the penalty spot. Ronaldinho led Atlético Mineiro to a good 2012 season, in which the club finished second in the 2012 Brasileirao and qualified for the 2013 Copa Libertadores. Ronaldinho won the Bola de Ouro award and was selected as the best player in the league.

In 2013, Ronaldinho helped Atlético win the Campeonato Mineiro and led the club to its first title of the Copa Libertadores. Ronaldinho scored four goals and assisted on seven occasions during Atlético’s dramatic title run, which included consecutive comebacks from 0–2 first leg defeats in both the semi-finals against Argentinian Newell’s Old Boys and the finals against Club Olimpia from Paraguay. Both ties were determined in Atlético’s favour after penalty shootouts. Even though Ronaldinho had been injured for a large period in the second half of the season, he was voted the South American footballer of the year for the year 2013.

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Ronaldinho of Brazil’s Atletico Mineiro, left, fights for the ball with Wellington of Brazil’s Sao Paulo FC at a Copa Libertadores soccer match in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugenio Savio)

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He did renew his contract for the 2014 season, and won the 2014 Recopa Sudamericana. He however, left the club in July reaching an agreement to cancel his contract by mutual consent.

Yet, his legacy was strong, and still remains an inspiration to young an aspiring footballers.

 

Ronaldinho signed with Liga MX side Queretaro in September 2014, a two year contract. Ronaldinho made his debut for Querétaro in a 1–0 loss to Tigres UANL where he missed a penalty kick. In his next match, however, against Guadalajara, he had a much better game, setting up Camilo Sanvezzo to score as well as scoring himself from a penalty kick in a 4–1 win. On 30 October 2014, he scored a free kick against Atlas during an away match at the Estadio Jalisco.

On 18 April 2015, Ronaldinho scored twice against Liga MX title-holders América in an away game at the Estadio Azteca, in which his team won 4–0. All of the spectators, mostly consisting of América supporters, gave a standing ovation to Ronaldinho after his goals had brought him to tears. After the match, Ronaldinho stated in an interview, “It is an emotion to live more. I had an ovation at the Bernabéu and now here. I never imagined this. It is something that makes me like Mexico even more and I feel right at home.”

Ronaldinho scored two penalties in consecutive matches, the second giving Querétaro the classification to the Liga MX playoffs & on 17th May 2015, Querétaro progressed to the semi-finals after defeating Veracruz 4–3 aggregate. In the second match, Ronaldinho scored a free kick with the help of the opponent’s goalkeeper who made contact with the ball. He then, ended his association with Queretaro, and his stay at Queretaro wasn’t short of any controversies either. He was often criticized by Queretaro’s management for partying too much, and the management often expected him to deliver trophies, when in fact its not just one man’s magic to get trophies. He was also critized for his lavish partying and outings, though he maintained his fitness levels to a maximum. Ultimately, he proved himself to be a player with the skills that can lift up any team.

On 11 July 2015, Ronaldinho announced his return to Brazil and signed an 18-month contract with Fluminense, but on 28th September, Ronaldinho reached a mutual agreement with the club to terminate the deal. He made nine appearances during his two-month stint at the club, failing to impress and being heavily criticized by the fans. Fluminense sporting director Mario Bittencourt stated, “Ronaldinho asked us for a meeting. He respectfully told us he didn’t feel he was able to perform as good as he wanted and that it was a bad situation for him. He made a great gesture in saying he wasn’t being the player he felt he could be right now. I’ll never speak about whether or not he is retiring. That’s not something you say about a player of his calibre. He was always spectacular, as player and person.”

 

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Ronaldinho, at the 2008 Summer Olympics for Brazil.

Despite the 2002 FIFA World Cup, 2004 Copa America and the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup in his hands, there was the disappointment of 2006 FIFA World Cup hurting Ronaldinho. However, Ronaldinho was named in Brazil’s 2008 Summer Olympics squad on July 7th, 2008 as one of the over-age players. Barcelona initially blocked the move because of his then-upcoming Champions League commitments with the club, but the decision was later nullified following Ronaldinho’s transfer to Milan, who in turn permitted him to make the trip to Beijing, China. Ronaldinho captained the team, and he scored his only two goals in a 5–0 victory over New Zealand before Brazil were beaten by Argentina in the semi-final. Brazil finished with the bronze medal after defeating Belgium 3–0 in the bronze medal match. It was however sad to see Ronaldinho not being selected for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup squads, had he been selected Brazil could have won either of those world cups or at least either a silver or bronze medal. it is sad to see such great talent overlooked by the Brazilian Football Federation.

Danone, EA Sports, Unicef, Gatorade, Nike and Pepsi are among the list of many brands endorsed by Ronaldinho and also among those whose ads he has appeared in.

and, his talent hasn’t left him. watch one of his signature no look passes for a friendly he played with Peruvian club Club Deportivo Municipal. This pass, is the pass of the century.

 

This friendly of 1999 vs Argentina was one of Ronaldinho’s first international friendlies. watch the video for an amazing display of his skills.

Currently, Ronaldinho is plying his trade in Premier Futsal the top division of Futsal in India. even in Indoor Football, Ronaldinho hasn’t lost his skills and in fact he made headlines when he helped Goa to a 5-2 win over Bengaluru in which he scored all 5 of Goa’s goals. Watch these clips:

 

 

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Ronaldinho is open to a move to America’s Major League Soccer (MLS), and despite his age he is not only fit and amazing but also the skills that he put into Lionel Messi. but Messi’s skills are different and Ronaldinho is the true maestro, the true magician, the Samba football king. Even today, he is among the most loved football players on the planet and is still open to a return to international football to help Brazil rise again :).

Ronaldinho, we all love you <3. all the best buddy! 🙂

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