Of mice & men: Is Neymar’s price tag of 222 million Euros justified?

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this post are solely my personal views. If anyone wishes to challenge them, please do so but in constructive ways. Thank You

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It made headlines in August 2017, Neymar leaves FC Barcelona and joins Paris St.Germain (PSG) for 222 million Euros!

Yes! Euros! 222 Million Euros!

Makes one wonder, No?
Well, it does make me wonder.

Yes, we do know that Nasser Al-Khelaifi owns Paris St.Germain through Oryx Sports Investment and that PSG has known to have purchased players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, David Luiz, Marquinhos and Lucas Rabiot as well as Angel, Di Maria, Blaise Matuidi, Marco Veratti, Thiago Motta, Kevin Trapp, Julian Draxler and Yohan Cabaye.

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Ronaldinho? Well, he played there around 15 years ago before he joined FC Barcelona.

Point of discussion here is Neymar’s fee of 222 million Euros.
How is such a price tag justified?

First, lets take a look at the most expensive transfers in the history of football:

Pos. Player Clubs Year Fee
1 Neymar Barcelona – PSG 2017 €222m
=2 Ousmane Dembele Dortmund – Borussia Dortmund 2017 €105m (+€45m)
=2 Paul Pogba Juventus – Manchester United 2016 €105m
4 Gareth Bale Tottenham – Real Madrid 2013 €100.8m
5 Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United – Real Madrid 2009 €94m
6 Gonzalo Higuain Napoli – Juventus 2016 €90m
7 Neymar Santos – Barcelona 2013 €86.2m
8 Romelu Lukaku Everton – Manchester United 2017 €84.8m
9 Luis Suarez Liverpool – Barcelona 2014 €82.3m
10 James Rodriguez Monaco – Real Madrid 2014 €80m
11 Alvaro Morata Real Madrid – Chelsea 2017 €78.9m
12 Zinedine Zidane Juventus – Real Madrid 2001 €77.5m
13 Kevin De Bruyne Wolfsburg – Manchester City 2015 €75m
14 Angel Di Maria Real Madrid – Manchester United 2014 €74.6m
15 Zlatan Ibrahimovic Inter – Barcelona 2009 €69.5m
16 Raheem Sterling Liverpool – Manchester City 2015 €69.1m
17 Kaka AC Milan – Real Madrid 2009 €65m
18 Edinson Cavani Napoli- PSG 2013 €64.5m
19 David Luiz Chelsea – PSG 2014 €62.5m
20 Angel Di Maria Manchester United – PSG 2015 €61.6m
21 Oscar Chelsea – Shanghai SIPG 2016 €60.3m
22 Luis Figo Barcelona – Real Madrid 2000 €60m
23 Fernando Torres Liverpool – Chelsea 2011 €59m
24 Hulk Zenit – Shanghai SIPG 2016 €58.6m
25 Benjamin Mendy Monaco – Manchester City 2017 €58.2m
26 John Stones Everton – Manchester City 2016 €58m
27 Kyle Walker Tottenham – Manchester City 2017 €56.7m
28 Hernan Crespo Parma – Lazio 2000 €55m
29 Alexandre Lacazette Lyon – Arsenal 2017 €52.4m
30 Gianluigi Buffon Parma – Juventus 2001 €52m
31 Eliaquim Mangala Valencia – Manchester City 2014 €51.7m
=32 Alex Teixeira Shakhtar Dontesk – Jiangsu Suning 2016 €50m
=32 Bernardo Silva Monaco – Manchester City 2017 €50m
34 Anthony Martial Monaco – Manchester United 2015 €49.3m
35 Gylfi Sigurdsson Swansea – Everton 2017 €49.2m
36 Christian Vieri Lazio – Inter 1999 €49m
37 Gaizka Mendieta Valencia – Lazio 2001 €48m
38 Mesut Ozil Real Madrid – Arsenal 2013 €47m
=39 Juan Sebastian Veron Lazio – Manchester United 2001 €46m
=39 Rio Ferdinand Leeds – Manchester United 2002 €46m
=39 Ronaldo Inter – Real Madrid 2002 €46m
=39 Juan Mata Chelsea – Manchester United 2014 €46m
=39 Douglas Costa Bayern Munich – Juventus 2017 €46m
44 Christian Benteke Aston Villa – Liverpool 2015 €45.8m
=45 James Rodriguez Porto – Monaco 2013 €45m
=45 Joao Mario Sporting CP – Inter 2016 €45m
=45 Granit Xhaka Borussia Monchengladbach – Arsenal 2016 €45m
=45 Tiemoue Bakayoko Monaco – Chelsea 2017 €45m
49 Nemanja Matic Chelsea – Manchester United 2017 €44.7m
50 Leroy Sane Schalke – Manchester City 2016 €44m
51 Andriy Shevchenko AC Milan – Chelsea 2006 €43.9m
=52 Robinho Real Madrid – Manchester City 2008 €43m
=52 Radamel Falcao Atletico Madrid – Monaco 2013 €43m
54 Alexis Sanchez Barcelona – Arsenal 2014 €42.5m
=55 Rui Costa Fiorentina – AC Milan 2001 €42m
=55 Javier Pastore Palermo – PSG 2011 €42m
=55 Thiago Silva AC Milan – PSG 2012 €42m
=55 Jackson Martinez Atletico Madrid – Guangzhou Evergrande 2016 €42m
=55 Henrikh Mkhitaryan Borussia Dortmund – Manchester United 2016 €42m
=55 Mohamed Salah Roma – Liverpool 2017 €42m
=55 Leonardo Bonucci Juventus – AC Milan 2017 €42m
=62 Lilian Thuram Parma – Juventus 2001 €41.5m
=62 Corentin Tolisso Lyon – Bayern Munich 2017 €41.5m
64 Andy Carroll Newcastle – Liverpool 2011 €41.3m
=65 Pavel Nedved Lazio – Juventus 2001 €41.2m
=65 Shkodran Mustafi Valencia – Arsenal 2016 €41.2m
=65 Sadio Mane Southampton – Liverpool 2016 €41.2m
=68 Roberto Firmino Hoffenheim – Liverpool 2015 €41m
=69 Marc Overmars Arsenal – Barcelona 2001 €41m
=70 David Villa Valencia – Barcelona 2010 €40m
=70 Paulinho Guangzhou Evergrande – Barcelona 2017 €40m
=70 Sergio Aguero Atletico Madrid – Manchester City 2011 €40m
=70 Radamel Falcao Porto – Atletico Madrid 2011 €40m
=70 Hulk Porto – Zenit 2012 €40m
=70 Axel Witsel Benfica – Zenit 2012 €40m
=70 Javi Martinez Athletic Club – Bayern Munich 2012 €40m
=70 Eden Hazard Lille – Chelsea 2012 €40m
=70 Fernandinho Shakhtar Donetsk – Manchester City 2013 €40m
=70 Ederson Benfica – Manchester City 2017 €40m
=70 Federico Bernardeschi Fiorentina – Juventus 2017 €40m
81 David Luiz PSG – Chelsea 2016 €39.6m
=82 Michy Batshuayi Marseille – Chelsea 2016 €39m
=82 Antonio Rudiger Roma – Chelsea 2017 €39m
84 Didier Drogba Marseille – Chelsea 2004 €38.5m
=85 Michael Essien Lyon – Chelsea 2005 €38m
=85 Fernando Torres Atletico Madrid – Liverpool 2007 €38m
=85 Dimitar Berbatov Tottenham – Manchester United 2008 €38m
=85 Gonzalo Higuain Real Madrid – Napoli 2013 €38m
=85 Diego Costa Atletico Madrid – Chelsea 2014 €38m
=85 Eric Bailly Villarreal – Manchester United 2016 €38m
=85 Mats Hummels Borussia Dortmund – Bayern Munich 2016 €38m
=85 Andre Silva Porto – AC Milan 2017 €38m
=93 David Beckham Manchester United – Real Madrid 2003 €37.5m
=93 Luke Shaw Southampton – Manchester United 2014 €37.5m
95 Jackson Martinez Porto – Atletico Madrid 2015 €37.1m
=96 Filippo Inzaghi Juventus – AC Milan 2001 €37m
=96 Wayne Rooney Everton – Manchester United 2004 €37m
=96 Edin Dzeko Wolfsburg – Manchester City 2010 €37m
=96 Mario Gotze Borussia Dortmund – Bayern Munich 2013 €37m
=96 Arturo Vidal Juventus – Bayern Munich 2015 €37m

I know right! Pretty Expensive!
How much will Neymar earn at Paris St.Germain? 45 Million Euros per season.
Seriously?!

This is what it is. Sadly, the gap between different continents of the world exists. While more people die of drought, hunger, starvation, political lapse and conflict in Asia and Africa, the world of football is dancing and bathing in millions and billions of Dollars!

Manchester United made a big mistake of buying back Paul Pogba from Juventus Turin for 120 Million Dollars, and they received backlash from journalists over the amount of money paid, which should have gone to charity. Furthermore, with footballers earning insane amounts of money, they do pay taxes and pay money in charity and have given back a lot to their community. BUT, there are many whose families have been quite greedy and have never paid attention to anything but their greed. Take Emmanuel Adebayor’s case: He gave his family a mansion in Lome, Togo but when some greedy siblings started phishing money from him through lying, he had to shift his innocent younger siblings to England and France, and by helter skelter means, he either had to give them small businesses, pay for their education or keep them under his care. In short, greed is a killer indeed.

But what about Neymar’s case? FC Barcelona are suing him for a breach of contract. Will the transfer money shut them up?

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NOT JUSTIFIED AT ALL!!

The fee is insane!! It will not only drive the football inflation up! Merit will be dead! Ticket prices will shoot up and since Neymar comes from a 3rd world country, his family cannot live in Brazil peacefully.

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Current state of Neymar’s Brazilian fans

Have a look at Adriano Leite Ribeiro, what happened to him? Greed!

Neymar will no doubt perform well at PSG but he is now a traitor. Leaving FC Barcelona behind for no reason, even if Neymar will earn good, he has to pay taxes and for charity. In short, he can’t have it all because the greedy agents of football players and other intermediaries involved will actually cause the economic balloon of football to inflate til insane heights. Once it pops up, it will cause a meltdown of football clubs. All the big names, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris St. Germain, Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Glasgow Rangers, Celtic, Inter Milan, FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax Amsterdam, AS Roma, Lazio, Liverpool, Chelsea, Napoli, CSKA Moscow, Sporting Lisbon, FC Porto, Galatasaray etc. will all face the economic meltdown.

Clubs cannot cover up the additional expenses that come afterwards. If most of that money went into just a transfer, then the agents will definitely be wanting more, tax authorities want more as well and that, intermediaries will charge their fees as well (Banks!).

What does UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations say about that? The regulations were made in 2011 as an effort to inhibit spending, stating that a team cannot spend too much more than what it earns, without facing any sanctions.

Paris St. Germain club president and owner Nasser Al Khelaifi believes his club won’t have an issue turning a profit.

“When you consider Neymar as a brand, maybe it won’t seem so expensive. I’m sure we’ll make more money than we’ve paid,” he stated in a press conference when Neymar was unveiled, referring to ticket revenues, championship earnings and new sponsorship opportunities.

Neymar fetched $263 million just to be transferred from one club to another.

His transfer fee in USD$ is 263 million

Like Seriously? can a welfare dependent Frenchman be able to buy front row tickets at Parc Des Princes just to watch Neymar play? Maybe Al Khelaifi forgot economics or is simply abusing his wealth.

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Marc Ganis, co-founder of Sportscorp (a sports business firm), is skeptical about Neymar’s transfer and money associated with it. He believes that it does not make any financial sense. Though, these superstars are outliers regarding their high value, but is their value really worth a value? or is it just an inflated price tag sellers put on to earn huge amounts? Metrics like a player’s performance, statistics, age, business appeal and reputation help collect data points that can really quantify the true price of a player, but since perception matters more than reality, the only measure of worth that counts is what someone is willing to pay, as put by Rory Smith in The New York Times.

 

Smith cited the case of the French midfielder Moussa Sissoko. When he was playing at Newcastle United last season, the club believed he was worth around USD$20 million. When La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid suggested that they were prepared to pay twice that amount, Newcastle increased its valuation and later transferred him to Tottenham Hotspur for close to USD$40 million.

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Another example is that of Anthony Martial. Manchester United agreed a USD$ 46 million deal in 2015 for the former AS Monaco sensation, with options reaching a total of USD$ 75 million. Though he had to prove himself a lot, at the age of 19, he had 15 goals across the last two seasons at Old Trafford. Despite the fair statistics, that amount of money wasn’t justified either, and even former Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal acknowledged the risk and labelled the price tag as “ridiculous” and a “reflection of the crazy world we live in.”

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Neymar’s transfer fee is economically dis-balancing, and sorry to say, the Sheikhs of the G.C.C nations are very unethical. The money they paid could have saved a country, a continent, a million lives and even the world.

 

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I’m not saying I hate the Arab Sheikhs, I am saying that they should spend that kind of money ethically and in much generous ways to help bring equality and equity in the world.

Sorry to say, today’s world of football has become quite unstable. Whatever happens next, billionaire owners investors will take notice and will try bargaining as well. When the time comes for them to spend their own money on players, they will continue to try to determine what counts as a fair price and even if they have to bargain, they will because no one wants to blow money away without any sense.

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Adriano Leite Ribeiro: Once the beast of football, now living in ruins

 

For those of you who are unable to remember this great Brazilian dude, here are a few videos to remind you who he was.

 

 

 

 

Adriano Leite Ribeiro  was born on February 17, 1982 in the city of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil’s capital of nightlife, The Carnivale and the Samba). He is commonly known as Adriano and is currently plying his trade at American 4th division club Miami United. A talented stiker he is, but his playing career has often been marked by inconsistency, lack of fitness, weight gain and addiction to drugs. Despite the problems His main titles are four Scudetti for Inter Milan, a Brasileirao for Flamengo and for the Brazilian national team, a FIFA Confederations Cup and a Copa America title each. During his time in Italy, he earned the nickname L’Imperatore (the Emperor).

Adriano began his career with Flamengo, he made it to the professional team from the youth setup. From 2000-01, he made 24 appearances for Flamengo and scored 10 goals. He then moved to Inter Milan where he scored one goal in eight appearances, meaning it was not much of a good spell and was later loaned out to Fiorentina for the remainder of 2002 where he scored 6 goals in 18 appearances. He then joined A.C Parma in 2002 for 8.8 million Euros and went on to form one of the best striker duos in the country with then Romania International Adrian Mutu, scoring 23 goals in 37 appearances over a span of two years (missing the month of November 2003 due to injury).

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Adriano during his time at Parma

In 2004, Adriano returned to the San Siro side on a 4.5 year deal, worth 23.4 million Euros and scored 15 goals in 16 appearances for the club in 2004-05 season. From July 11, 2004 through June 25, 2005, Adriano was in peak form scoring an impressive total of 40 goals in both domestic and international competitions. In September 2005, Inter Milan rewarded him for his efforts with an improved contract running until June 30, 2010.

However, despite the new contract and form he was out of form and fitness. his constant late partying had put a toll on his fitness and he was benched many times. Then Brazil coach Dunga did not call him for the friendly against Ecuador in October 2006 because of his fitness issues and for much of the 2006-07 season, he was subject of controversy when he was constantly spotted at nightclubs. On February 18, 2007, Adriano skipped a team practice with Inter Milan following the lengthy effects of a birthday celebration the night earlier.

In 2008, for a lengthy unpaid leave Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti sent Adriano to Brazil at FC Sao Paulo’s training center so he can regain back his fitness. that later turned into a loan spell. West Ham United and Manchester City were interested in signing him but his lack of fitness following his father’s death and weight gain forced the clubs to move away from him. Massimo Moratti stated that after the loan spell, he would like Adriano to be back at the club in better shape.

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Adriano during his time at FC Sao Paulo.

Inter finalized a deal on December 19th, 2007 to loan Adriano to São Paulo for the remainder of the 2007–08 season in order to allow him to compete in the 2008 Copa Libertadores. São Paulo fans were soon seen standing in long lines to buy his new number 10 jersey at the team’s official merchandise retailer after Adriano was introduced and his shirt was unveiled at a team press conference. Adriano celebrated his competitive debut with São Paulo by scoring both goals in their 2–1 victory over Guaratingueta on the opening day of the 2008 Paulista Tournament. He was sent off after headbutting Santos fullback Domingos on February 10, 2008, and was suspended for two matches after initially risking a suspension of eighteen months.He was fined by São Paulo on February 29 for arriving 30 minutes late for training, then leaving early and exchanging words with a photographer. According to team sporting director Marco Aurélio Cunha, Adriano “left the training ground because he wanted to. The team does not miss him. If he is not happy at São Paulo, he is free to go.”

Adriano was a regular goalscorer in the early stages of the 2008-9 Serie A campaign, reaching a combined total of 100 domestic goals in the Italian Serie A and the Brazilian Serie A. On 22 October 2008, Adriano scored the winner in a 1–0 win over Anorthosis Famagusta, and, with this goal, Adriano scored his 18th Champions League goal, and 70th for the club. In December, Inter Milan allowed him special dispensation to return to Brazil over the winter break earlier than planned. Inter confirmed on April 4 that Adriano had not returned from international duty with Brazil and had signed no contract with the club. On April 24, Adriano finally rescinded his contract with Inter Milan.

 

Adriano signed a one-year contract with Flamengo on May 6, 2009, the club with which he started his career. On his debut after returning to Flamengo, played on May 31, 2009, he scored a goal against Atletico Paranaense. On June 21, 2009, he scored his first hat-trick for Flamengo in the 4–0 win over Internacional in the Brazilian Série A.,his performances would be instrumental to lead Flamengo to their first Brazilian Serie A title since 1992.

On 31 January 2010, Adriano scored his second hat-trick since his return, this time in a 5–3 comeback win in the Rio de Janeiro (Fla-Flu) derby against city rivals Fluminense in the 2010 Rio de Janeiro State League.

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ROME – SEPTEMBER 28: Adriano of AS Roma in action during the UEFA Champions League group E match between AS Roma and CFR Cluj at Stadio Olimpico on September 28, 2010 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

On 8 June 2010, Italian Serie A side A.S Roma announced Adriano’s signing effective July 1st, 2010 with a salary worth 5 million Euros.He was then presented to the press with the no. 8 shirt. However, Roma terminated the contract on March 8, 2011, after seven months in the Italian capital.

On 25th March 2011, he signed with Corinthians on a year long deal. However, Adriano ruptured his Achilles tendon on 19th April, the same year while he was training & After the surgery he spent six months recovering. After recovering, he played his first game for Corinthians on October 9, 2011, when his club beat Atletico Goaniense 3-0. His first goal for Corinthians came on October 20 in the home game versus Atletico Mineiro, and was the winning goal that made the game 2-1 and gave Corinthians a two-point lead in the Championship with only two games remaining. He however, was released on march 12, 2012 after his irregular appearances and lack of interest.

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Adriano was a good footballer, only to now end up living in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. He was once earning 80,000 pounds per week in the prime of his career but these days, the 34-year-old is without a club and living among gun-wielding gangs in Rio.

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A gang member of the Red Command gives Adriano a good shave.

Forever remembered as a absolute fire cracker on Pro Evolution Soccer, Adriano was once regarded as one of the top strikers in world football but six years after his last appearance for Brazil against Ukraine in 2010, things are very, very different.

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Adriano making hand signals of Red Command while attending a party.

Adriano reportedly depends on a deadly gang known as the Red Command, who have been part of Rio’s long-running gang war, for protection in order to live in the slum, according to Brazilian lawyers. Also, many more incidents have sparked controversy in Adriano’s life. He was arrested on charges relating to drug trafficking and after a night out clubbing with friends, a woman was shot in his car. In November 2014, a judge in Rio de Janeiro cleared Adriano of charges related to drug trafficking citing a lack of evidence. There are rumors that he is searching for  a club, though some images show him training for American 4th division side Miami United.

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Adriano training at the facilities of FC Sao Paulo

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Adriano, when he was weight loss training

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Adriano, before his release by Corinthians.

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! 🙂

Republic of Ireland: A brave & hardworking nation and winners of our hearts :)

Dedicated to the UEFA Euro 2016 campaign of the Republic of Ireland (including previous participations in various international tournaments).

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An Irish fan celebrates Republic of Ireland’s goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 22, 2016 in Lille, France.

Soldiers are we,

whose lives are pledged to Ireland

Some have come,

from a land beyond the wave

Sworn to be free,

No more our ancient Sireland

Shall shelter the despot or the slave,

Tonight, we man the “bearna Baoil”

In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal

‘Mid Cannon’s roar’ and Rifle’s peal,

We’ll chant a soldier’s song

The opening game, versus Sweden. Norwich City playmaker Wes Hoolahan opened the scoring with a neat and daft curling shot from the left edge of the Sweden penalty area thus shocking Sweden to a shock start. the match ended in a 1-1 draw through an unlucky own goal through Ciaran Clark, but nevertheless it showed Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic why he must be more than just a club level swordfish.

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Wes Hoolahan (top right) opens the scoring for the Republic of Ireland in their Group E match against Sweden Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) and Robbie Brady go up for a header during the 1-1 draw at the Stade de France. The tournament was Zlatan’s last in a Swedish shirt; the striker retired after their elimination. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

However, their fortunes were overturned in a 3-0 defeat to Belgium. Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were on Belgium’s scoresheet, Thus putting Republic of Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the round of 16 in serious doubt. Nobody wanted the Boys in Green to bow out badly, but this tournament was full of surprises.

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Shane Long’s the meat in a sandwich tackle byThomas Vermaelen (left) and Toby Alderweireld during Belgium’s 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in Bordeaux. Photograph: Ray McManus/Sportsfile via Getty Images

BUT!

Who would have thought they would overcome Italy 1-0. Who would have thought Robbie Brady would score the game winner, many people even called Ireland’s rescue 1199 and told the fire department that Robbie Brady is on fire (meaning he scored Ireland’s late winner against Italy). Wow, the nation was in loads of Celebrations.

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Republic of Ireland supporters celebrate after Robbie Brady’s late winner against Italy seals the final place in the last 16. Photograph: Christopher Lee – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Image

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Shane Duffy of Republic of Ireland celebrates with James McClean of Republic of Ireland at the final whistle during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 22, 2016 in Lille, France.

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Stephen Quinn of Ireland celebrates victory after the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 22, 2016 in Lille, France. Ireland won the match 1-0. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images).

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Lille , France – 22 June 2016; Musician Richy Sheehy, from Carrignavar, Co. Cork, entertains Republic of Ireland supporters after their victory during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland in Lille, France. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Robbie Brady of Republic of Ireland celebrates with teammate James McClean after he scored during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 22, 2016 in Lille, France.

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Robbie Brady of Republic of Ireland celebrates after he scored during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 22, 2016 in Lille, France.

June 22, 2016 was the famous day Republic of Ireland claimed a famous win over a fancied Italy who were dismantling their opponents in tactical fashion. Republic of Ireland were even congratulated by Italy and their coach Antonio Conte in a show of sportsmanship and respect. Republic of Ireland qualified by virtue of 3 points and 2 goals scored in 3 matches despite conceding 4 goals but their 3 points and 2 goals scored were more than that of Turkey and Albania. Turkey were sadly inconsistent and Albania were unlucky (as it was their first ever European Championship appearance).

At times, some good things come to an end but it doesn’t mean bad things are to start. it means even better things take a start. The Republic of Ireland went in well prepared to take on France and despite Shane Long’s early penalty giving Martin O’Neill’s Boys in Green a much deserved lead, France fought back.

France grabbed a 2-1 win, courtesy of their golden boy Antoine Griezmann scoring two beautiful goals hence earning the adored nickname ‘Grizzou’ (Zinedine Zidane was known as Zizou).

&lt;&gt; at Stade des Lumieres on June 26, 2016 in Lyon, France.

Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy keane looks on as his nation were defeated 2-1 by France.

 

&lt;&gt; at Stade des Lumieres on June 26, 2016 in Lyon, France.

Robbie Keane, Seamus Coleman and Shane Long of Republic of Ireland show their disappointmen after defeat in the UEFA Euro 2016 match between France and Republic of Ireland at Stade des Lumieres on June 26, 2016 in Lyon, France.

 

 

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President of France Francois Hollande, President of French Football Federation Noel Le Graet, President of French Parliament Claude Bartolone, French Secretary of State for Sports Thierry Braillard, below French Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem celebrate the second goal of France during the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 match between France and Republic of Ireland at Stade des Lumieres, Parc Olympique  Lyon on June 26, 2016 in Lyon, France.

 

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France’s Bacary Sagna reacts during their hard-fought 2-1 victory. France would next played Iceland in the quarterfinals. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

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France’s Dmitri Payet & Antoine Greizmann celebrate Griezmann’s 2nd goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 match between France and Republic of Ireland at Stade des Lumieres on June 26, 2016 in Lyon, France.

Downed and Sent out of the tournament, but nevertheless a respectable finish for the Republic of Ireland and a deserving win for the Les Bleus, The win wasn’t comfortable for France. they did fight back and Republic of Ireland showed and gave them equal challenge but the Irish were tactically beaten by the French. This however, didn’t drown the celebrations of the gentle and well mannered Irish fans who had a lot more to celebrate about after the Euro win.

Republic of Ireland had a respectable round of 16 finish at the UEFA Euro 2016. and what’s even better that it shows the quality of Irish players, who can shine easily and brightly in other leagues of Europe notably the Belgian Jupiler Division, Dutch Eredivisie, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, Greek Alpha Ethniki, Turkish Super League, Russian Premier League, French Ligue 1, Spanish Premiera Liga and of course, the Portuguese Super League.

July is coming to an end, I hope the big star names of the Republic of Ireland land good deals in Europe’s top leagues.

All the best ladies & gentlemen, have a good day :).

And, Thanks for reading too :).

Bye 🙂

 

Iceland: One of UEFA Euro 2016’s biggest surprise packages and why we should love them.

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Iceland, is actually an island but it isn’t full of ice. it has some pastures, a lot of volcanoes and yes, it is in the northern latitudes of the northern hemisphere. A large part of its electricity comes from geothermal sources such as hot water springs. and yes, they are a tourist attraction.

Apart from them, you’ll have more than just 10 reasons to fall in love with Iceland :).

Ion luxury adventure hotel 🙂

 

Landmannalaugar Mountains

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Kinda resembles game of thrones, right?

The Golden Circle

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The Golden Circle

Silfra Diving

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Silfra Diving

The Blue Lagoon

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The geothermal pool I was talking about. That’s right, the hot water spring that is one of Iceland’s greatest tourist attractions

Well, you’re seeing attractions. there’s plenty more to why we should love Iceland

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Volcanoes: Pretty important to Iceland’s existence.

Iceland’s situated where two tectonic plates meet in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The nation has a whopping 30 active volcanic systems, making it a haven for scientists and tourists alike who can’t get enough of one of nature’s most chaotic yet paradoxically creative geological feature.

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Jon Snow of the Game of Thrones. I’m sorry, I haven’t seen a single episode of this show, yet I’m following some of its facebook posts :D.

Whoever watches the biggest TV series on the planet will have seen the gorgeous vistas that cover Iceland. The show’s an American production and is filming in various location across the globe, but many of its most iconic backdrops were shot in Iceland.

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Oh Bjork, we all love you to bits and pieces.

She, is the most famous music artist ever to have emerged from Iceland. Bjork’s style is impossible to pigeonhole and always experimental. Her most famous song is probably ’90s hit ‘Oh So Quiet’, though she’s got a lengthy discography having had a career spanning 30 years. and that’s why we love her :D.

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The Northern Lights. and as Kid Rock once said “The Northern Lights and the Southern Comforts, Best gift Man can ever have.”

Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights are considered a holy grail for many people’s bucket lists, and Iceland has become a European tourist haven for hunting down the beautiful geomagnetic phenomenon.

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Holy Shit! Hafthor Júlíus Björnsson aka The Mountain from Game of Thrones. A winner of the World’s Strongest Man, forget the biceps he’s a man mountain and a real life Thor!

Icelandic men dominated the ‘strongman’ competition in the ’80s and ’90s, winning eight titles over a 12-year period. Their most recent export with bulging biceps is Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson, better known as The Mountain in Game of Thrones – who has finished in the top three of the World’s Strongest Man competition for four years in a row.

Still, Cristiano Ronaldo should watch out for him!

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SIGUR RÓS

The post-rock band, named after the frontman’s sister, make ridiculously beautiful music and have been around for 22 years. If you haven’t heard of Sigur Rós before now, type euphoric single ‘Hoppipolla’ into your search engine of choice and get wowed big time!

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Renewable Energy, in the form of Hotsprings.

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Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir, Miss Iceland and Miss World 2005.

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Protest in Reykjavik, 2010. when the Icelandic economy fell into recession, the nation took to the streets to ensure safety of its economy.

Best way to deal with rotten bankers, jail em’ and use their assets to finance deficits instead of folding.

When Iceland’s economy collapsed in 2008, it didn’t shrivel up and fold, despite facing financial ruin. Instead it jailed the bankers, focused its efforts on tourism to bring the economy back from the brink and now it’s one of the best places to live in the world.