Ronaldinho: 5 Memorable Moments from One of Brazil's All-Time Greats
Ronaldinho landed on European shores almost 11 years ago at the tender age of 21. Now at 32, the Brazilian has seen it all in the game of football.
He has played for two of the biggest clubs in the world and has reached the pinnacle of national team football by winning the World Cup. Though he is now overshadowed by Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho has achieved as much, if not more, as those great players have.
Unfortunately, many will see the Brazilian's nightlife as the reason for his decline, something Messi and Ronaldo don't seem to have, and it is that life away from the pitch that has led to the playmaker's exit from the football spotlight. Though his move back to Brazil to play his club football hasn't helped, and many of the English-speaking media have all but forgotten the two-time World Player of the Year.
However, Ronaldinho arguably reached the height of his career when Barcelona defeated Arsenal for the 2005-06 European Cup. Six years on, it is amazing how quickly the football landscape has changed.
A new generation of football fans, in love with Barcelona and Real Madrid, are close to clueless about the wide-smiling Brazilian as well. To many, he is just a player on a video game with fantastic skill attributes or a man from a highlight video that is finishing out his days in the sun.
Now we look back at five memorable moments from one of Brazil's all-time greats.
Ronaldinho Fools David Seaman
Ronaldinho broke English hearts at the 2002 World Cup when he scored an outrageous goal from 38 yards out.
The shot, which many feel was a mis-hit cross, put the Brazilians up 2-1 in the second half of their quarterfinal showdown with England. Brazil never looked back beating England on the way to claim their fifth World Cup trophy.
Unfortunately for Ronaldinho, he was sent off shortly after his stunning goal and missed the semifinal. He did return for the team's final in which they defeated Germany 2-0.
The Brazilian World Cup side of 2002 will forever be remember for their amazing trio of attackers: Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Rivaldo. All three made numerous contributions in that tournament and all three wrote another chapter in their illustrious careers.
Bicycle Kick Against Villareal
Ronaldinho has scored some amazing goals in this career. Many of his greatest came during his time with Barcelona, including this fantastic bicycle kick against Villareal.
It may not be the most memorable goal or most important, but it showed the skills the Brazilian possessed at one time.
PSG, Barcelona, AC Milan
Ronaldinho will be mostly remember for his time with Barcelona. During that period, the playmaker won two La Liga titles, two Spanish Super Cups and one Champions League.
Despite his amazing talents and abilities, Ronaldinho was unable to match that with any of his other clubs.
In two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain, after a deal with Arsenal allegedly fell through, the club could only win a UEFA Intertoto Cup.
Barcelona signed the Brazilian in 2003, following Madrid's signing of David Beckham. Five seasons and five trophies later it's easy to see who got the better deal.
In 2008, and at the end of a winning cycle, Barcelona parted ways with manager Frank Rijkaard as well as several important players during the Dutchman's reign. One of which was Ronaldinho, who was sold to Milan after he had turned down a move to Manchester City.
In two and a half seasons, the Brazilian's form was up and down, though he did have some fantastic moments with the Rossoneri. Looking back, it seems his signature, along with the loan signing of David Beckham, was a mere marketing move by Milan President Silvio Berlusconi.
Ronaldinho left the club in January 2011 after appearing in 11 matches and scoring zero goals. The club went on to claim their first Serie A title in six years following his departure.
Ronaldinho's excellence was rewarded on numerous occasions during his time with Barcelona. The most prestigious of his achievements was the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
It was a trophy he won in back-to-back years (2004, 2005), which puts him third on the all-time list of winners behind Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo.
Ronaldinho collected other individual awards during this time including two FIFPro World Player of the Year awards and one Ballon d' Or.
Back to Brazil and the National Team
In 60 matches, he has already bagged 24 goals and 13 assists, a decent return from a player some have criticized for his laziness on the pitch.
His form with Flamengo has also revived a stagnant national team career. In September 2011, he was recalled to the national team for a set of friendlies. He scored from a free kick against Mexico in October, sparking debate whether he should continue playing with the full national team.
Only time will tell if the Ronaldinho will get another shot at a World Cup, though he will be 34 years old by the time of Brazil 2014.
For those that don't remember, can't get enough or aren't familiar with, here are 10 goals from one of Brazil's all-time greatest players. Enjoy!