Ronaldinho

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"Ronaldinho Gaucho" redirects here. For the comic strip based on him, see Ronaldinho Gaucho (comic strip). For other uses, see Ronaldinho (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Ronaldo.
Ronaldinho
Ronaldinho 72.jpg
Ronaldinho in January 2013
Personal information
Full name Ronaldo de Assis Moreira
Date of birth (1980-03-21) 21 March 1980 (age 34)
Place of birth Porto Alegre, Brazil
Height 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)[1]
Playing position Attacking midfielder / Forward
Club information
Current team
Querétaro
Number 49
Youth career
1987–1998 Grêmio
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1998–2001 Grêmio 52 (21)
2001–2003 Paris Saint-Germain 55 (17)
2003–2008 Barcelona 145 (70)
2008–2010 Milan 76 (20)
2011–2012 Flamengo 33 (15)
2012–2014 Atlético Mineiro 47 (17)
2014– Querétaro 9 (3)
National team
1996 Brazil U17 6 (2)
1999 Brazil U20 5 (3)
1999–2005 Brazil U23 27 (18)
1999– Brazil 97 (33)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 30 November 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 23 April 2013

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁonawˈdʒĩɲu]) or Ronaldinho Gaúcho,[2] is a Brazilian footballer who plays for Mexican club Querétaro. His main playing position is as an attacking midfielder or forward. He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2004 and 2005. 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.[3][4]

"Ronaldinho", the diminutive and term of endearment for "Ronaldo", is accompanied in Brazilian usage by the nickname "Gaúcho" (since he hails from southern Brazil), in order to distinguish him from fellow footballer and countryman Ronaldo, who was known as "Ronaldinho" in Brazil beforehand. Ronaldo simply went by his first name upon his move to Europe, thereby allowing Ronaldinho to drop the "Gaúcho" and go by the name Ronaldinho abroad.

Ronaldinho has played 97 matches and scored 33 goals for the Brazil national football team. He was an integral part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup winning team, starring alongside Ronaldo and Rivaldo in an attacking trio, and was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team.

At club level, prior to his move to Querétaro, Ronaldinho played for Grêmio, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Barcelona, Milan, Flamengo, and Atlético Mineiro. With Barcelona, he won the UEFA Champions League in 2006 and the Ballon d'Or in 2005. He became a Spanish citizen in January 2007.[5] 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.

Early and personal life

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 (daughter of Enviro Assis),[6] 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 (not to be confused with Cruzeiro).[7] 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, while his sister Deisi works as his press coordinator.[8][9]

Ronaldinho's football skills began to blossom at the of age 8, and he was first given the nickname Ronaldinho because he was often the youngest and the smallest player in youth club matches.[8] He developed an interest in futsal and beach football, which later expanded to organized football. His first brush with the media came at the age of thirteen, when he scored all 23 goals in a 23–0 victory against a local team.[10] Ronaldinho was identified as a rising star at the 1997 U-17 World Championship in Egypt, in which he scored two goals on penalty kicks.[11][12]

Ronaldinho became a father for the first time on 25 February 2005, after Brazilian dancer Janaína Mendes gave birth to their son, who was named João after Ronaldinho's late father.[13]

Club career

Grêmio

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.[14]

Ronaldinho's career began with the Grêmio youth squad. He made his senior side debut during the 1998 Copa Libertadores.[15] 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.[16] 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.[16] Ronaldinho achieved further success with Grêmio, winning the inaugural Copa Sul-Minas.[16]

In 2001, Arsenal expressed interest in signing Ronaldinho, 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.[17] 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.[18]

Paris Saint-Germain

In 2001, Ronaldinho signed a five-year contract with French side Paris Saint-Germain in a €5 million transfer.[19] 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.[20]

2001-02 season

Ronaldinho made his league debut for the club on 4 August 2001 appearing as a substitute in a 1–1 draw with Auxerre.[21] 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 converting the equalizing penalty in the 79th minute after having come on 10 minutes prior.[22] After returning from the winter break, Ronaldinho went on a tear scoring a goal in four consecutive matches to open the new campaign. He recorded impressive goals against Monaco, Rennes, Lens and Lorient. On 16 March 2002, Ronaldinho recorded a double in PSG's 3–1 victory against relegation strugglers Troyes.[23] He scored his final league goal of the season in the club's 2–0 win over Metz on 27 April.[24]

Ronaldinho was also 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, Ronaldinho scored two second half goals in the game after having entered the match as a half-time substitute. 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.[15]

2002-03 season

Despite repeated rifts with Fernández, Ronaldinho returned to the team for the 2002–03 season with the player switching to the number 10 shirt. Though his performances in his sophomore season with the club were underwhelming compared to his first, Ronaldinho performed admirably with the club. On 26 October 2002, he scored two goals in Paris Saint-Germain's 3–1 victory over Classique rivals Marseille. The first goal was a free kick, which curled past numerous Marseille players in the 18-yard box before sailing past goalkeeper Vedran Runje. In the return match, he again scored in Paris Saint-Germain's 3–0 victory at the Stade Vélodrome, running half the length of the field before flicking the ball over the goalkeeper.[25]

Ronaldinho was also praised for his performance in the Coupe de France when he scored both goals in the club's 2–0 win over Bordeaux in the semi-finals, which inserted Paris Saint-Germain into the final. After scoring his first goal in the 22nd minute, Ronaldinho capped the game in the 81st minute accurately chipping the ball at the 18-yard box over the head of goalkeeper Ulrich Ramé, despite Ramé being in a favorable position. For his performance, Ronaldinho was given a standing ovation by the Parisian supporters. Unfortunately for the club, Ronaldinho and the team failed to capture the form that got them to the final as the bowed out 2–1 to Auxerre due to a last minute goal from Jean-Alain Boumsong. Despite Ronaldinho's performances, the club finished in disappointing 11th place position. Following the season, Ronaldinho declared he wanted to leave the club after the capital club failed to qualify for any European competition.[26]

Barcelona

Ronaldinho with Frank Rijkaard at NASA's Johnson Space Center in 2006

Originally, FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta had promised to bring David Beckham to the club, but following his transfer to Real Madrid, Barcelona entered the running for Ronaldinho and outbid Manchester United for his signature in a reported €30 million.[27][28]

2003-04 season

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.[29] 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.[29] Ronaldinho suffered from injury during the first half of the campaign,[30] and 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.[31][32]

2004-05 season

Ronaldinho won his first league title in 2004–05, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year on 20 December 2004.[33] Ronaldinho's fame was growing with his entertaining and productive play in both the La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. On 8 March 2005 Barcelona were eliminated from the latter competition by Chelsea in the first knockout round, losing 5-4 over two legs.[34] Ronaldinho scored both goals in the 4–2 second leg loss in London, the second a spectacular strike where he feinted to shoot before striking the ball with no back-lift past Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech from 20 yards out.[34]

With his contract expiring in 2008, Ronaldinho was offered an extension until 2014 that would have net him £85 million over nine years,[35] but he turned it down. In September 2005, he signed a two-year extension that contained 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.[36]

2005-06 season

Ronaldinho taking a corner against Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou in 2005

By the end of year 2005, Ronaldinho had started to accumulate a host of personal awards. He won the inaugural FIFPro World Player of the Year in September 2005, in addition to being included in the 2005 FIFPro World XI, and being named the 2005 European Footballer of the Year. Also that year, Ronaldinho was voted the FIFA World Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.[33] He became only the third player to win the award more than once, after three time winners Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.[33] His domination as the world's best footballer was undisputed as he also won the prestigious Ballon d'Or for the only time in his career.[37]

On 19 November, Ronaldinho scored twice as Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 3–0 on the road in the first leg of El Clásico. After he sealed the match with his second goal, Madrid fans paid homage to his performance with a standing ovation, so rare a tribute only Diego Maradona had ever been granted previously as a Barcelona player at the Santiago Bernabéu.[38] Ronaldinho stated; "I will never forget this because it is very rare for any footballer to be applauded in this way by the opposition fans."[38]

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.[39]

The season is considered one of the best in Ronaldinho's career as he was an instrumental part of Barcelona's first Champions League title in 14 years. After winning their group convincingly, Barcelona faced Chelsea in the round of 16 for a rematch of the previous year.[40] Ronaldinho scored a decisive goal in the second leg, going past three Chelsea defenders on the edge of the penalty area before beating the goalkeeper, sealing Barcelona's qualification to the next round.[40] He also contributed one goal in Barcelona's elimination of Benfica in the quarterfinals with a 2–0 home victory. After a 1–0 semifinal aggregate win over Milan, in which Ronaldinho assisted the series' only goal by Ludovic Giuly, Barcelona progressed to the Champions League final, which they won on 17 May 2006 with a 2–1 defeat of Arsenal.[41] Two weeks earlier, Barcelona had clinched their second straight La Liga title with a 1–0 win over Celta Vigo, giving Ronaldinho his first career double.[42]

He finished the season with a career-best 26 goals, including 7 in the Champions League, and was chosen for the UEFA Team of the Year for the third consecutive time and was named the 2005–06 UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.[31] Ronaldinho was named in the six man shortlist for the 2006 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, and was selected in the FIFA World XI.[43]

Ronaldinho celebrates scoring with teammates in December 2006

2006-07 season

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.[44]

On 25 November 2006, Ronaldinho scored his 50th career league goal against Villarreal, then later scored a second time with an overhead bicycle kick. He later said to reporters that the latter was a goal he had dreamed of scoring since he was a boy.[45] He scored once and set up two others in Barcelona's 4–0 Club World Cup win over Mexico's Club América on 14 December, but Barcelona were defeated 1–0 by Brazilian club Internacional in the final.[46] Ronaldinho was nonetheless the recipient of the Bronze Ball Award for the competition.

The next day, Ronaldinho finished third in the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, behind World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and Zinedine Zidane.[47] He 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.[48][49] 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.[31][50]

2007-08 season

He played his 200th career match for Barcelona in a league match against Osasuna on 3 February 2008. However, his 2007–08 campaign as a whole was plagued by injuries, and a muscle tear in his right leg on 3 April prematurely ended his season.[51] On 19 May, Laporta stated that Ronaldinho needed a "new challenge", claiming that he needed a new club if he were to revive his career.[52] Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra confirmed on 6 June that he was interested in acquiring him.[53]

Ronaldinho and Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi each captained a team of international stars in an anti-racism exhibition match in Venezuela on 28 June, which ended in a 7–7 draw. Ronaldinho finished with a pair of goals and two assists in what would be his last match as a Barcelona player.[54] In preparation for the 2010 Joan Gamper Trophy, Ronaldinho sent an open letter to the fans and players of Barcelona, stating that his best years had been the five he spent in the Catalan club.[55] It was a sad moment for him and he later said in an interview that he regretted leaving without playing long enough with Messi.[56]

Milan

Ronaldinho playing for Milan in 2008

In July 2008, Ronaldinho turned down a £25.5 million offer from Manchester City[57] 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).[58][59][60] With the number 10 already occupied by teammate Clarence Seedorf, he selected 80 as his jersey number.

Ronaldinho playing for Milan in 2010

2008-09 season

Ronaldinho scored his first goal for Milan in a 1–0 derby victory over rival Internazionale on 28 September 2008. His first brace was in a 3–0 win over Sampdoria on 19 October 2008. He scored a 93rd-minute match-winner against Braga in the UEFA Cup group stage on 6 November. He finished his first season at Milan with 10 goals from 32 appearances in all competitions. After a good start to the season, Ronaldinho struggled with fitness, and was often played from the bench to end a disappointing first season for Milan.

2009-10 season

His second season did not begin on a high note, although he started nearly every match before finding himself on the bench again. After a while, Ronaldinho rediscovered his form and was arguably Milan's best player of the season. He changed his role from an attacking midfielder to a left winger, a more familiar role.

Ronaldinho against Real Madrid

On 10 January 2010, Ronaldinho scored two goals against Juventus in an away match, sealing a 3–0 victory for the Rossoneri. In the following match against Siena on 17 January 2010, Ronaldinho scored his first hat-trick for Milan when he converted a spot kick, scored with a header from a corner and finished with a wonder goal from 20 yards out.[61] On 16 February, Ronaldinho played his first match against Manchester United in a Champions League game at the San Siro.[62] He scored early in the game to give Milan the lead. Milan ended up losing the game 3–2, with a goal from Paul Scholes and two goals from Wayne Rooney.[62]

Ronaldinho finished the season as the assists leader of Serie A. On a less positive note, Ronaldinho missed three penalties in the 2009–10 season, to add to one botched kick the previous season. Ronaldinho ended the season scoring two goals against Juventus. Luca Antonini opened the scoring and Milan went on to win 3–0. It was Leonardo's last game in charge.[63]

Flamengo

Ronaldinho celebrates scoring for Flamengo in February 2011

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.[64] 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.[65]

He scored his first goal for Flamengo in the 3–2 victory against Boavista on 6 February 2011.[66] On 27 February Ronaldinho converted a second-half free kick for Flamengo to beat Boavista 1–0 and win his first piece of silverware with the team, the Taça Guanabara. 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. 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.[67]

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.[68]

Ronaldinho playing for Atlético Mineiro in the Brazilian Série A in June 2013.

Atlético Mineiro

Ronaldinho made a surprise move to Atlético Mineiro on 4 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.[69]

He made his debut for Galo on 9 June 2012 playing for 90 minutes in a 1–0 away win against Palmeiras,[70] and scored his first goal for the club on 23 June 2012 against Náutico, from the penalty spot.[71] Ronaldinho led Atlético Mineiro to a good 2012 season, in which the club finished 2nd in the 2012 Brasileirão and qualified for the 2013 Copa Libertadores. Ronaldinho won the Brazilian Golden Ball award for his performances in league matches with his new club in 2012.[72]

The following year Ronaldinho helped Atletico to win Campeonato Mineiro and led his club to its first ever title of the Copa Libertadores. Ronaldinho scored four goals and assisted on seven occasions during Atletico's dramatic title run which included consecutive comebacks from 0-2 first leg defeats in both the semifinals against Argentinian Newell's Old Boys and the finals against Club Olimpia from Paraguay. Both ties were determined in Atletico's favour after a penalty shootout. Even though Ronaldinho had been injured for a bigger part of the second half of the season he was still voted the 2013 South American Footballer of the Year.[73]

On 9 January 2014 he renewed his contract with the club.[74] Ronaldinho left Atlético Mineiro in July 2014, after reaching an agreement to cancel his contract with the club by mutual consent.[75] After becoming a free agent, he was offered contracts from English Conference South club Basingstoke Town and newly-formed Indian Super League franchise Chennai Titans through their co-owner Prashant Agarwal.[76][77][78]

Querétaro

Ronaldinho signed a two-year contract with Mexican club Querétaro on 5 September 2014.[79][80] Ronaldinho made his debut for Querétaro in a 1–0 loss to Tigres UANL where he missed a penalty kick.[81] However in his next match against C.D. Guadalajara Ronaldinho had a much better game, setting up Camilo to score as well as scoring himself from a penalty kick in a 4–1 win.[82]

International career

Ronaldinho takes a corner kick for Brazil during the 2006 World Cup

Youth teams

Ronaldinho is one of few Brazilian players to have played at every international age level. He was part of the first Brazilian team to win the FIFA U-17 World Championship in 1997, in which his first goal was a penalty against Austria in the first group match, which Brazil won 7–0. 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.

1999 was a busy year for Ronaldinho in terms of international play. First he appeared in the South American Youth Championship, where he scored three goals and helped the U20s to reach the third place. Then he took part in that year's FIFA World Youth Championship, scoring his first goal in Brazil's last group match. In the round of sixteen, he scored two first-half goals in a 4–0 win over Croatia, and finished with three goals as Brazil were eliminated by Uruguay in the quarterfinals.

Early success

On 26 June, three days before the start of the 1999 Copa América, he earned his first cap for Brazil in a 3–0 win over Latvia, and he scored one goal during Brazil's victorious Copa América campaign. One week after the conclusion of the Copa América, he was called up for the 1999 Confederations Cup, in which he scored in every match except the final, including a hat-trick in an 8–2 semifinal rout of Saudi Arabia. Brazil lost 4–3 to Mexico. He won the Golden Ball award for the best player in tournament as well as the Golden Boot award for the tournament top-scorer.

Ronaldinho with Brazilian president Lula at Wembley Stadium, London

In 2000, Ronaldinho participated in the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia with Brazil U-23 team. Earlier that year, Ronaldinho led Brazil to win the Pre-Olympic Tournament, scoring nine goals in seven matches. However in the Olympics, Brazil was eliminated in the quarterfinal by Cameroon, who later won the gold medal. Ronaldinho appeared four times and scored only one goal, which came in the quarterfinal defeat by Cameroon.

2002 World Cup glory

Ronaldinho participated in his first World Cup in 2002, as part of a formidable offensive unit with Ronaldo and Rivaldo, dubbed the "three R's", who were also on the 1999 Copa América winning squad.[83] Ronaldinho appeared in five matches during the tournament and scored two goals, as well as contributing several important assists. His first goal came in the group stage match against China, which Brazil won 4–0.[84]

The most memorable match in Ronaldinho's World Cup career took place in the quarterfinal against England on 21 June.[85] With Brazil trailing after Michael Owen's 23-minute strike, Ronaldinho turned the game around. Having received the ball inside his own half, Ronaldinho ran at the England defence and wrong footed star defender Ashley Cole with a trademark step over before passing the ball to Rivaldo on the edge of the penalty area to score the equalising goal just before half-time.[86] Then, in the 50th minute, Ronaldinho took a free-kick from 40 yards out which curled into the top left corner of the net, completely surprising England's goalkeeper David Seaman, giving Brazil a 2–1 lead.[85] However, seven minutes later, he was controversially sent-off for a foul on England's defender Danny Mills. Ronaldinho was suspended for the semifinal, but returned to Brazil's starting lineup for the 2–0 victory over Germany in the final as Brazil won the World Cup for the fifth time.[87]

Ronaldinho against Switzerland's Xavier Margairaz

2005 Confederations Cup title

Ronaldinho's next international tournament was the 2003 Confederations Cup, in which he went scoreless as Brazil were eliminated in the group stage. The following year, he was dropped from Brazil's 2004 Copa América squad, as coach Carlos Alberto Parreira decided to rest his stars and used a largely reserve squad.[88] After falling short in 1999 and 2003, Ronaldinho was the captain of Brazil and led his team to its second ever Confederations Cup title in 2005. He converted a penalty kick in a 3-2 semifinal win against host Germany and was named Man of the Match in a 4–1 victory over archrival Argentina in the final on 29 June.[89] Ronaldinho scored three goals in the tournament and is currently tied with Cuauhtémoc Blanco as the tournament's all-time scorer with nine goals.

2006 World Cup disappointment

Ronaldinho started in all five of Brazil's 2006 World Cup finals matches as part of a much-publicized "magic quartet" of offensive players, alongside Adriano, Ronaldo, and Kaká. The all-star Brazilian team was supposed to provide the Joga Bonito style of play, which was highly advertised by Nike before the tournament. However, the foursome finished with only five goals as Brazil disappointed as a whole in the tournament. Ronaldinho turned in his worst collective performance in his international career, going scoreless with only one assist, which was for Gilberto's goal in a 4–1 group stage victory over Japan. He was a non-factor as Brazil was eliminated by France 1–0 in the quarter-finals, in which Brazil had only one shot on goal for the entire match.[90]

The team was harshly criticized by Brazilian fans and media following their return home. On 3 July, two days after Brazil's elimination, vandals immolated and destroyed a 7.5-meter (23-foot) tall fiberglass and resin statue of Ronaldinho in Chapecó.[91] The statue had been erected in 2004 to celebrate his first FIFA World Player of the Year award. That same day, Ronaldinho, joined by Adriano, returned to Barcelona and held a party at his home, which was continued into the early morning hours at a nightclub. This aggravated the hard feelings of many Brazilian fans, who believed that they were betrayed by the lack of effort from the squad.[92]

2008 Olympic medal

On 24 March 2007, he scored twice in a 4–0 win over Chile, which marked his first goal since the 2005 Confederations Cup final and thus ended a scoreless streak that lasted nearly two years.[93] He was not called up for the 2007 Copa América after asking to be excused from the tournament due to tiredness.[94] On 18 October, he was controversially benched by Barcelona after he was late returning to Spain following Brazil's 5–0 friendly win over Ecuador. He and several Brazil players celebrated the win by partying through the night at a posh Rio de Janeiro nightclub. Ronaldinho left at 11 am the next morning, allegedly in the trunk of a car in order to avoid the media.[95]

Ronaldinho at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

On 7 July 2008, Ronaldinho was named in Brazil's 2008 Summer Olympics squad as one of the over-age players.[96] 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.[97] 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 semifinal. Brazil finished with the bronze medal after defeating Belgium 3–0 in the bronze medal match.[98]

2010 and 2014 World Cup absence

Despite having returned to good form and being named as a member of the 30-man provisional squad that was submitted to FIFA on 11 May 2010,[99] he was not named in Coach Dunga's final squad of 23 for the Brazilian squad in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup[100] despite his deep desire to participate in the competition.[101] Critics claimed that the exclusion of players such as Ronaldinho, Alexandre Pato, Adriano and Ronaldo signaled a move away from the classic Brazilian attacking "Jogo Bonito" style of play.[102] At the tournament Brazil was eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarter-final.

In September 2011 he made his return to the national team under coach Mano Menezes in a friendly against Ghana at Fulham F.C.'s Craven Cottage,[103] playing the full 90 minutes in a 1–0 win for Brazil. He then had solid performances in back to back friendlies against Argentina in the same month. In October he had a great performance against Mexico in a friendly, scoring a spectacular free kick to equalize after Dani Alves was sent off. Brazil went on to win the match with a goal from Marcelo.

His good form continued in 2013, and in January he was unexpectedly called up by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari[104] for a friendly against England played on 6 February at Wembley as part of the English FA's 150th anniversary.[105] Ronaldinho started in what was his 100th cap (including non-official matches), and had a chance to score from the penalty kick, but his shot was saved by Joe Hart. Brazil lost the match 1-2.[106] He was again called up for the Seleção, being named captain of the national team for an international friendly with Chile on 24 April 2013.[107] However, Ronaldinho was not selected for the national team for the 2013 Confederations Cup and he was also omitted in Scolari's 2014 FIFA World Cup squad.[108]

Style of play

Ronaldinho is regarded as being one of the most skillful players of his generation.[109] ESPN has described him as being "skillful by nature, his tricks are unparalleled and he is wonderful with the ball at his feet. One of the coolest players in pressure situations" and a "fast, brash, skilful, tricky, an uninhibited playmaker" who provides "a mix of goals, assists, skills and a large repertoire of crafty moves."[110] Former Portugal midfielder, Rui Costa, has said of him: "There are not many players who can offer goalscoring passes like he can. He is just marvellous. He is a rare case of an assist man who can provide the ball from anywhere."[111] He is also one of the players who has perfected the "Elastico" move.[112]

Outside football

Ronaldinho has had endorsements with many companies, including Nike, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, EA Sports, Gatorade and Danone.[39][113] One of the world's highest paid players, in 2006 he earned over $19 million from endorsements.[114] Having endorsed Pepsi for much of his career and appeared in commercials with David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho signed a deal with Coca-Cola in 2011, however this was terminated in July 2012 after he was caught sipping a Pepsi in a news conference.[115]

Ronaldinho features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series, appearing in the cover of FIFA Football 2004, FIFA 06, FIFA 07, FIFA 08 and FIFA 09.[113] At the beginning of his career Ronaldinho signed a lucrative 10-year deal with American sportswear company Nike.[39] His 2005 Nike advertisement, where he is given a new pair of boots and then proceeds to juggle a football and appears to repeatedly volley it against the crossbar of a goal and recover it without the ball touching the ground, went viral on YouTube, becoming the site's first video to reach one million views.[116]

In 2011, Ronaldinho was recruited by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to help promote awareness among young people of the disease and how to avoid it.[117]

Career statistics

Club

As of 22 November 2014.[118]
Club Season League Cup Continental Other[2] Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
Grêmio 1998 14 1 0 2 0 0 15 3 2 17 4 48 8 2
1999 17 6 0 3 0 0 4 2 24 15 48 23 0
2000 21 14 0 6 6 0 22 21 49 41 0
Total 52 21 0 11 6 0 19 5 2 63 40 145 72 2
Paris Saint-Germain 2001–02 28 9 8 6 2 0 14 2 2 48 13 10
2002–03 27 8 6 7 3 0 4 1 2 38 12 8
Total 55 17 14 13 5 0 18 3 4 86 25 18
Barcelona 2003–04 32 15 11 6 3 1 7 4 2 45 22 14
2004–05 35 9 10 0 0 0 7 4 4 42 13 14
2005–06 29 17 15 2 1 1 12 7 6 2 1 1 45 26 23
2006–07 32 21 8 4 0 1 11 3 3 2 0 2 49 24 14
2007–08 17 8 2 1 0 0 8 1 2 26 9 4
Total 145 70 46 13 4 3 45 19 17 4 1 3 207 94 69
Milan 2008–09 29 8 6 1 0 1 6 2 1 36 10 8
2009–10 36 12 18 0 0 0 7 3 1 43 15 19
2010–11 11 0 3 0 0 0 5 1 1 16 1 4
Total 76 19 26 1 0 1 18 6 3 95 26 31
Flamengo 2011 31 14 7 5 1 1 3 2 0 13 4 52 21 8
2012 2 1 0 0 0 0 8 2 6 9 4 19 7 6
Total 33 15 7 5 1 1 11 4 6 22 8 71 28 14
Atlético Mineiro 2012 31 9 15 0 0 0 31 9 15
2013 14 8 2 2 0 2 14 6 7 6 4 36 18 11
2014 2 0 0 7 1 2 4 0 13 1 2
Total 47 17 17 2 0 2 21 7 9 10 4 80 28 28
Querétaro 2014–15 9 3 1 1 0 0 10 3 1
Total 9 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 3 1
Career total 417 163 112 47 16 7 132 44 43 99 53 3 694 276 165
^ Other includes Brazilian state competitions and national super cups.

International

As of 04 October 2014[119]
National team Year Apps Goals
Brazil 1999 13 7
2000 5 1
2001 4 1
2002 10 4
2003 8 2
2004 10 6
2005 12 6
2006 9 0
2007 11 5
2008 2 0
2009 3 0
2010 1 0
2011 5 1
2012 1 0
2013 3 0
Total 97 33

Honours

Other

In 2012, two Brazilian entomologists named a new species of bee, from Brazil, Eulaema quadragintanovem, stating that "the specific epithet honors the Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, famous worldwide as 'Ronaldinho' and in Brazil as ‘Ronaldinho Gaúcho’. 'Quadraginta novem' means forty-nine, the number of Ronaldinho's t-shirt at Clube Atlético Mineiro (CAM), his former team in Brazil. Ronaldinho chose the number 49 as homage to his mother, born in 1949."[120]

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External links