Full name: Ronaldo de Assis Moreira
Date of birth: 21/03/1980
Born Ronaldo de Assis Moreira in 1980, but more commonly known as Ronaldinho or Ronaldinho Gaucho (the name given to Brazilians who come from the Rio Grande do Sul area of Brazil), the Brazilian footballer is a renowned forward/ attacking mid-fielder and currently a key player in FC Barcelona. Dubbed the ‘new Pele,’ and regarded as one of the finest talents in the game today, Ronaldinho grew up in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre and began his career at the youth team of Gremio, the team that first signed his older brother and current manager Roberto.
At the age of thirteen, Ronaldinho began to make his mark on the pitch, when he led his team to victory after scoring all twenty three goals in a local youth match. In 1997 he played in the Egypt Under-17 World Championship, where he impressively scored with two penalty kicks. He went on to represent the Gremio senior team at the Libertadores Cup, a championship for South American clubs, during which he caught media attention for his flair for goal-scoring and his remarkable ball control.
By 2001, having made a total of a hundred and ten appearances and thirty seven goals playing for Gremio and being the only player to have represented his country at all levels of competition (Under 15, 17, 20, 23 and senior teams), Ronaldinho had gained the football world’s attention and he began getting offers from international clubs including Arsenal and other top premiership teams. After much speculation about the next step in his career, Ronaldinho signed a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for four and a half million euros and left Brazil to begin a European football career.
Whilst Ronaldinho continued to display his talent for the game, scoring seventeen goals with PSG, he was heavily criticised on numerous occasions for his focus on the Parisian nightlife. In 2002 Ronaldinho represented Brazil as part of the winning team at the FIFA World Cup, scoring against China and a particularly notable goal against England in the quarter-finals. This was not his first successful performance with the Brazilian team, having already shone in the Under-17 World Cup, the Copa America and going on to be part of the champion team in the 2004-05 Confederations Cup.
After his impressive play in the 2002 World Cup, several clubs made multi million pound offers to PSG and a violent bidding war ensued between top international teams, Manchester United and FC Barcelona. After failing to reach an agreement with PSG, Manchester United lost the bid and in 2003 Ronaldinho moved to Spain for a hefty sum of twenty one million Euros.
Since joining Barcelona, Ronaldinho has trained under the coaching of Frank Rijkaard, leading him to become more of a forward than a mid-field player with a focus on creating and scoring, rather than destroying and defending. Over the last four years Ronaldinho has made a significant contribution to FC Barcelona’s triumphs, contributing to the team’s two year victory in the Spanish Supercup League. Barcelona were also victorious in the 2004/5 and 2005/6 La Liga titles and Ronaldinho made a significant contribution to their most recent triumph when Barcelona won the European Champion’s League in 2006.
Ronaldinho’s contract with FC Barcelona has fallen under much speculation, as several big international clubs have attempted to sign the player as their own. When vice-president Sandro Rosell resigned from the club in 2005, it was feared that Ronaldinho would refuse to extend his contract with Barcelona once it ends in 2008.
After a failed sixty million pound bid from Chelsea and his own refusal of an eighty five million pound bid with Barcelona that would take him up to 2014, Ronaldinho did extend his Barcelona contract for another two years. Ronaldinho will now stay with the club until 2010, unless another club offers at least eighty five million pounds to sign the Brazilian player.
Ronaldinho’s popularity continues to increase on and off the football pitch and, having starred in numerous advertisements for Nike, Pepsi, Lenovo and eight different Brazilian brands, he has surpassed David Beckham as the most marketable player in the world. Ronaldinho’s popularity was marked in 2005, when a twenty three foot high statue of him was erected in the Brazilian city of Chapeco, on winning his first FIFA player of the year award at the end of the 2004/05 season.
Alongside members of his family the striker also appears in a popular comic strip created by Brazilian cartoonist, Mauricio de Sousa. He is loved amongst football fans and professionals alike, having been awarded player of the world for two consecutive seasons and recently appearing in Pele’s much talked about 2004 list of 125 Top Footballers.
- 2003/04: FC Barcelona v AC Milan – With a 1-0 lead in Ronaldinho’s first key match with Barcelona, the new striker increased their lead to 2-0 in the 51st minute, spinning the ball around Milan’s Fernando Redondo and into the net.
- 2004: Away from the football pitch Ronaldinho has also filmed several advertisements. On one notable occasion whilst filming in Madrid, he kicked the ball so hard that it smashed a window in the historic Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.
- 2005: FC Barcelona v Chelsea – At the Champions League final at Stamford Bridge, Ronaldinho scored an unstoppable solo goal and an impressive penalty kick. Despite the team being knocked out by Chelsea in a 4-0 defeat, the match has been remembered for the allegations that the stewards at the match had acted in a racist manner towards Ronaldinho.
- 2005: Brazil v Argentina – Captaining his nation’s team to glory in the Confederation cup Ronaldinho received Man of the Match after a magnificent 4-1 defeat against Argentina.
- 2006: FC Barcelona v PFC Levski Sofia – In Barcelona’s 5-0 defeat of PFC, Ronaldinho scored a stunning final goal in the final minute of the match.
- 2006: FC Barcelona v Villareal – Ronaldinho scored a momentous goal when he scored an outstanding bicycle kick into the net.
- FIFPro World XI: 2005, 2006, 2007
- FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball Award: 2006
- Best Foreign Player in La Liga: 2004, 2006
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2004, 2005, 2006
- UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2006
- FIFPro World Player of the Year: 2005, 2006
- European Footballer of the Year: 2005
- UEFA Club Best Forward: 2005
- FIFA World Player of the Year: 2004, 2005
- EFE Trophy: Best Ibero-American Player in La Liga: 2004
- FIFA 100: 2004
- FIFA World Cup 2002 All-Star Team: 2002
- Rio Grande do Sul State Championship Top Scorer: 1999
- FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball: 1999
- FIFA Confederations Cup Top Scorer: 1999
|Paris Saint-Germain F.C.