One of modern football’s greatest, Brazil’s Ronaldinho Gaucho retired from professional football on Tuesday as confirmed by his brother and agent Roberto Assis. He also said that Ronaldinho would now concentrate more on his already packed off-field commitments.
A career that spanned over 20 years, Ronaldinho is considered as one of the greats to play in the game due to his flair and visually appealing football. His tricks and ability to run at defences made him one of the most feared footballers on his day.
For people watching football across the world, Ronaldinho was one of the biggest reasons for the game’s worldwide growth. A high profile deal with popular sportswear brand Nike and a marquee signing with Barcelona in 2003 elevated him to a superstar status.
The ever-smiling magician as Barcelona would call him, created havoc in the field ever since he came to the Nou Camp. He was touted as Barcelona’s replacement after losing out on David Beckham to Real Madrid and what a productive replacement it has been. With 70 goals and many memorable moments, the Brazilian was at his best with the Catalan team.
It’s very difficult to restrict Ronaldinho’s career to few memorable moments but as list can’t go on forever. Hence, here are the five most memorable moments from Ronaldinho’s remarkable career.
It certainly isn’t Ronaldinho’s greatest goal but it arguably the most cheekiest. In the quarterfinal match against England in the 2002 World Cup, Ronaldinho broke english hearts by turning the game around and in turn attracting many club managers including Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United.
35-yard out, Everyone thought Ronaldinho would have to cross, the angle did not favour him plus it was David Seaman at the goal. But still the Brazilian went for the goal and curved it, very graciously into the back of the net.
It’s not always that your rival fans gives you a standing ovation, it’s almost never in the case of El-clasicos. But when Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-0 in November 2005, Ronaldinho had scored two and set up the third.
What caught they eye was his second goal which was so fitting for the Brazilian that night, summing up a 50-yard run, jinking past Ramos and Helguera before finishing class low shot which even the Real Madrid fans applauded.
In February 2005, when Barcelona met Mourinho’s Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge, Ronaldinho was at his transcendent best. His game was inspiring fans across the world, spellbound by his trickery and agility.
Ronaldinho got the ball outside the box in the late stages of a tense game, he then with a shimmy which almost looked liked a dance and with zero follow-through ‘poked his toe’ for a fine finish. What followed was a minute of absolute silence as most of the Stamford crowd and players didn’t quite figure out, how it was possible.
Ronaldinho is a true footballing mastermind, there is no doubt about it. But what this particular footage proves is that he’s much more than that. Blocked from all sides by three Bilbao defenders, Ronaldinho did which no other footballer would even think of doing.
Without letting the ball hit the ground, Ronaldinho tapped it thrice over a defender, and like the spectators watching in sheer awe in the background, we too were amazed at this man’s (Oops, God’s) brilliance.
Although this isn’t an on-field moment, it still is very significant in Ronaldinho’s career and played a major part on how the world perceived the Brazilian legend. Since 2002, Ronaldinho has been the face of Nike and its commercials made viewers fall in love with the game, again.
One particular commercial was when Nike gave Ronaldinho a pair of white and gold boots in between training after which the Brazilian goes ahead to do some insane tricks including repeated volleys against the crossbar of the goal which went viral and made him, a regular household name.