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Thursday, May 13, 2010
Ronaldinho, Portuguese for "Little Ronaldo," is known in Brazil by the nickname "Gaúcho," in order to distinguish him from Ronaldo, who was already called "Ronaldinho" in Brazil. Ronaldo simply went by his first name upon his move to Europe, thereby allowing Ronaldinho to drop the "Gaúcho" and remain simply as Ronaldinho.
Prior to his move to Milan, he played for Paris Saint-Germain, and Barcelona, with whom he won his first Champions League in 2006. He became a Spanish citizen in January 2007.
Biography and personal life
Ronaldinho was born in the city of Porto Alegre, capital of the Rio Grande do Sul state of Brazil. His mother, Dona Miguelina de Assis, is a former salesperson who studied to become a nurse. His father, João Moreira, was a shipyard worker and footballer for local club Esporte Clube Cruzeiro (not to be confused with Cruzeiro). 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.
Ronaldinho's football skills began to blossom at an early age, and he was first given the nickname Ronaldinho because he was often the youngest and the smallest player in youth club matches.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.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.
Today, Roberto acts as Ronaldinho's manager, while his sister Deisi works as his press coordinator.[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.
Ronaldinho's career began with the Grêmio youth squad under head coach Liam Higgins. He made his senior side debut during the 1998 Copa Libertadores.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. 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. In 2001, Ronaldinho signed a five-year contract with French side Paris Saint-Germain in a €5.1 million transfer.
Upon his arrival in Paris, Ronaldinho was given the number 21 shirt and inserted into a lineup that included fellow Brazilian Aloísio and midfielders Mikel Arteta and Jay-Jay Okocha. Ronaldinho made his league debut for the club on 4 August 2001 appearing as a substitute in a 1–1 draw with Auxerre. 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. 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. He scored his final league goal of the season in the club's 2–0 win over Metz on 27 April.
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.
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 Le Classique rivals Marseille. The first goal was a dazzling and curling free kick, which curled past numerous Marseille players in the 18-yard box before sailing past goalkeeper Vedran Runje. In the return match, he broke the hearts of Marseille supporters again scoring in Paris Saint-Germain's 3–0 cruising victory at the Stade Vélodrome. Arguably Ronaldinho's most greatest performance during the season came 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 by cheekily, yet 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.
Originally, 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 €32,250,000 transfer. He 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. After suffering from injury during the first half of the campaign, he returned and helped lead Barcelona to a second-place league finish.
Ronaldinho won his first league title in 2004–05, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year on 20 December 2004. In 2005, Ronaldinho received his second consecutive honour of FIFA World Player of the Year, beating Chelsea's Frank Lampard and fellow Barça player Samuel Eto'o. On 8 March 2005, Barcelona was eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by Chelsea in the first knockout round, with Ronaldinho scoring both goals in a 4–2 loss.
With his contract expiring in 2008, Ronaldinho was offered an extension until 2014 that would have net him £85 million over nine years,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.
Ronaldinho with Frank Rijkaard at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
By the end of the 2004–05 season, 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 added to his collection a second FIFA World Player of the Year with 956 points, more than triple the amount (306) of runner-up Frank Lampard. 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, he received a standing ovation from the Madrid fans.
Ronaldinho taking a corner against Celta de Vigo
Ronaldinho was chosen for the UEFA Team of the Year for the third consecutive time in January 2006, and he contributed one goal in Barcelona's elimination of Benfica in the 2005–06 Champions League 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. 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. He finished the season with a career-best 26 goals in all competitions, and was named the 2005–06 Champions League Player of the Year.
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. 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.Ronaldinho was nonetheless the recipient of the Bronze Ball Award for the competition.
The next day, Ronaldinho finished third in the running for the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, behind World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and Zinedine Zidane.Ronaldinho was named among the UEFA Team of the Year for the third straight time in January 2007, receiving the highest number of votes with over 290,000 nominations.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.
Ronaldinho playing for Milan
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. 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. Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra confirmed on 6 June that he was interested in acquiring him.
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.
In July 2008, Ronaldinho turned down a £25.5 million offer from Manchester City to join Italian Serie A giants Milan on a three-year contract thought to be worth around £5.1 million (€6.5 million) a year, for a fee in the region of £14.5 million (€18.5 million). With the number 10 already occupied by teammate Clarence Seedorf, he selected 80 as his jersey number, because 1980 was his birth year.
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 November 6.
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.
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 has been arguably Milan's best player in the season. He has changed his role from an attacking midfielder to a left winger, a more familiar role.
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 30 yards out.
On 16 February, Ronaldinho played his first match against Manchester United in a Champions League game. 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.
As of 13 April 2010, Ronaldinho is the assist leader of Serie A with a total of 13 assists. On a less positive note, Ronaldinho has so far missed three penalties in the 2009–10 season, to add to one botched kick the previous season.
Ronaldinho takes a corner kick during the 2006 World Cup
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.
Ronaldinho with Brazilian President Lula
1999 was a busy year for Ronaldinho in terms of international play. He took part in the 1999 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. 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. Ronaldinho did not score in the final, which 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.
In 2000, Ronaldinho participated in 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.
Ronaldinho participated in his first World Cup in 2002, as part of a formidable offensive unit with Ronaldo and Rivaldo, who were also on the 1999 Copa América winning squad. He appeared in five matches and scored two goals. The first goal came in the group stage match against China, which Brazil won 4–0. The second goal was a match-winning goal in the quarterfinal against England on 21 June. In the 50th minute, Ronaldinho took a free-kick from 35 metres, beating England goalkeeper David Seaman to give Brazil a 2–1 lead. However, seven minutes later, he was sent-off for a foul on England defender Danny Mills. He 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.
Ronaldinho against Margairaz
Ronaldinho's next international tournament was 2003 Confederations Cup. However, Ronaldinho did not manage to score any goals during the tournament as Brazil performed poorly and was eliminated in the group stage. The following year, he was left out from Brazil's 2004 Copa América squad, as coach Carlos Alberto Parreira decided to rest his stars and used a largely reserve squad.
He was the capitain of Brazil to its second Confederations Cup title in 2005, and was named Man of the Match in a 4–1 victory over archrivals Argentina in the final on 29 June. Ronaldinho scored three goals in the tournament and is tied with Cuauhtémoc Blanco as the tournament's all-time scorer with nine goals.
Ronaldinho at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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.He was not called up for the 2007 Copa América after asking to be excused from the tournament due to tiredness.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 a.m. the next morning, allegedly in the trunk of a car in order to avoid the media.
On 7 July 2008, Ronaldinho was named to Brazil's 2008 Summer Olympics squad 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. Ronaldinho scored his only two goals in a decisive 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.
Even though he has returned to good form, Ronaldinho was not selected for the Brazilian squad in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup despite his deep desire to do so. This has been met with much criticism of Brazilian national team head coach Dunga for taking away the classic "Joga Bonito" style of play and replacing it with a dull, counter-attacking defensive style that does not fit many of Brazil's star players such as Ronaldinho.
As of 26 April 2010.
Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
Grêmio 1998 6 1 0 2 0 0 — 8 1 0
1999 17 6 0 3 0 0 — 20 6 0
2000 21 14 0 3 3 0 — 24 17 0
Total 44 21 0 8 3 0 0 0 0 52 24 0
Paris Saint-Germain 2001-02 28 9 8 6 2 0 6 2 2 40 13 10
2002-03 27 8 6 6 3 0 4 1 2 37 12 8
Total 55 17 11 12 5 0 10 3 4 77 25 18
Barcelona 2003-04 32 15 11 6 3 1 7 4 2 45 22 14
2004-05 35 9 14 0 0 0 7 4 4 42 13 18
2005-06 29 17 13 4 2 2 12 7 4 45 26 19
2006-07 32 21 10 6 1 3 11 3 3 49 25 16
2007-08 17 8 7 1 0 0 8 1 2 26 9 9
Total 145 70 55 17 6 6 45 19 15 207 95 76
AC Milan 2008-09 29 8 5 1 0 1 5 2 2 35 10 8
2009-10 35 10 15 0 0 0 7 3 1 42 13 16
Total 64 18 20 1 0 1 12 5 3 77 23 24
Career total 308 126 86 38 14 7 67 27 22 413 167 118