Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʁonawˈdʒĩɲu]) or Ronaldinho Gaúcho, is a Brazilian professional footballer and current club ambassador for Spanish club FC Barcelona after signing for them in September 2016. 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.
"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 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 team. He was an integral part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup-winning team in Korea and Japan, starring alongside Ronaldo and Rivaldo in an attacking trio, and was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team.
At club level, Ronaldinho played first for the Brazilian club Grêmio before spending the bulk of his career with European clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Milan. He then returned to Brazil to play for Flamengo and Atlético Mineiro before moving to Mexico to play for Querétaro. With Barcelona, he won La Liga twice, the UEFA Champions League in 2006 and accumulated numerous individual awards, including the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005 and the Ballon d'Or in 2005. 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
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira was born 21 March 1980 in the city of Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. His mother, Dona Miguelina Elói Assis dos Santos (daughter of Enviro Assis), 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 the larger Cruzeiro Esporte Clube). He suffered a fatal heart attack in the family swimming pool when Ronaldo was eight. After Ronaldo'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, but Roberto's career was ultimately cut short by injury. Today, Roberto acts as his manager, while his sister Deisi works as his press coordinator. Ronaldo's football skills began to blossom at the age of eight, 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 organised football. His first brush with the media came at the age of 13, 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.
Growing up, his idols included the World Cup winning stars; Rivelino (from 1970), Diego Maradona (from 1986), Romário (from 1994), and his two future international teammates Ronaldo and Rivaldo (which would form the attacking trio in Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning team). Ronaldinho is the father of a son, João, born on 25 February 2005 to Brazilian dancer Janaína Mendes and named after his late father. He gained Spanish citizenship in 2007.
Ronaldinho's career began with the Grêmio youth squad. He made his senior side debut throughout the 1998 Copa Libertadores. 1999 saw the emergence of the 18-year-old Ronaldinho, with 23 goals in 48 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. 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. Ronaldinho achieved further success with Grêmio, winning the inaugural Copa Sul-Minas.
In 2001, Arsenal expressed interest in signing Ronaldinho, but the move collapsed after he couldn't obtain a work permit because he was a non-EU player who hadn't 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 club Paris Saint-Germain in a €5 million transfer. 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.
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 first few months of the 2001–02 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 ten 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, he 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 additionally influential in the 2001–02 Coupe de la Ligue, helping PSG 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 PSG'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 PSG's 3–0 victory at the Stade Vélodrome, running half the length of the field before flicking the ball over the goalkeeper.
Ronaldinho was additionally 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 PSG into the final. After scoring his first goal in the twenty-second 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, notwithstanding Ramé being in a favourable position. For his performance, Ronaldinho was given a standing ovation by the Parisian supporters. Unfortunately for the club, however, Ronaldinho and the team failed to capture the form that got them to the final as they bowed out 2–1 to Auxerre due to a last minute goal from Jean-Alain Boumsong. Despite Ronaldinho's performances, the club finished in a disappointing 11th-placed position. Following the season, Ronaldinho declared he wanted to leave the club after the capital club failed to qualify for any European competition.
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 €30 million deal.
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. 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. Ronaldinho suffered from injury throughout the first half of the campaign, and Barcelona slumped to twelfth in the league standings midway through the season. Ronaldinho returned from injury and scored 15 goals in La Liga throughout the 2003–04 season, helping the team ultimately finish second in the league.
Ronaldinho won his first league title in 2004–05, and was named FIFA World Player of the Year on 20 December 2004. His 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. 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 Čech from 20 yards out.
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.
By the end of the year 2005, Ronaldinho had started to build up 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. He became only the third player to win the award more than once, after three-time winners Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. His domination as the world's best footballer was undisputed as he additionally won the prestigious Ballon d'Or for the only time in his career.
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 by applauding, so rare a tribute only Diego Maradona had ever been granted previously as a Barcelona player at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Ronaldinho stated, "I will never forget this because it is quite rare for any footballer to be applauded in this way by the opposition fans."
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. 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. He additionally contributed one goal in Barcelona's elimination of Benfica in the quarter-finals 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 de Vigo, giving Ronaldinho his first career double.
Ronaldinho finished the season with a career-best 26 goals, including seven 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. He was named in the six man shortlist for the 2006 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, and was selected in the FIFA World XI.
On 25 November 2006, Ronaldinho scored his fiftieth 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 after 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 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 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and Zinedine Zidane. Ronaldinho 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. 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.
Ronaldinho played his two hundredth career match for Barcelona in a league match against Osasuna on 3 February 2008. His 2007–08 campaign as a whole, however, was plagued by injuries, and a muscle tear in his right leg on 3 April prematurely ended his season. Having been a model professional and devoted himself to training throughout his hugely successful first three seasons at Barcelona, Ronaldinho's partying lifestyle and lack of dedication to training saw his physical condition decline, with a large number of at the club believing he was now past his prime. On 19 May 2008, Barcelona club president Joan Laporta stated that Ronaldinho needed a "new challenge", claiming that he needed a new club if he were to revive his career.
Ronaldinho joined Barca as a toothy-grinned wizard who had the club under his spell for three glorious seasons. He will leave a rather forlorn figure. Whether his magic has been exhausted or he just needs a new challenge remains to be seen.— Simon Baskett, Reuters, July 2008.
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 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. It was a sad moment for him and he later said in an interview that he regretted leaving without playing long enough with Messi.
In July 2008, Ronaldinho turned down a £25.5 million offer from Manchester City of the Premier League 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 €22.05 million plus €1.05 million bonus each season (€24.15 million in 2010). With the number 10 already occupied by teammate Clarence Seedorf, he selected 80 as his jersey number.
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.
Ronaldinho finished the 2008–09 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. A perceived lack of dedication in training and a lifestyle of late night partying not befitting of an athlete saw him receive criticism, with Carlo Ancelotti, his coach at Milan in his first season in Italy, commenting, "The decline of Ronaldinho hasn't surprised me. His physical condition has always been quite precarious. His talent though has never been in question."
Ronaldinho's second season didn't 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.
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. On 16 February, Ronaldinho played his first match against Manchester United in a Champions League game at the San Siro. 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.
Ronaldinho finished the season as the assists leader of Serie A. On a less positive note, however, he missed three penalties in the domestic season to add to one botched kick the previous season. Ronaldinho ended the Serie A campaign scoring two goals against Juventus; Luca Antonini opened the scoring and Milan went on to win 3–0 in manager Leonardo's last game in charge.
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. During the transfer saga, a large number of reports had linked the former World Player of the Year to joining different clubs, such as LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer, Blackburn Rovers of the Premier League, and Brazilian clubs Corinthians and Palmeiras. He was greeted by more than 20,000 fans at his unveiling at his new club on 13 January 2011.
Ronaldinho scored his first goal for Flamengo in the 3–2 victory against Boavista on 6 February 2011. On 27 February, he 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 nineteenth Taça Guanabara title, which earned the Campeonato Carioca title two months later, as the team additionally 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. 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.
Ronaldinho made a 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 after his preferred number 10 was already assigned to Guilherme in the 2012 season.
Ronaldinho made his debut for Galo on 9 June 2012, playing for 90 minutes in a 1–0 away win against Palmeiras, and scored his first goal for the club on 23 June 2012 against Náutico, from the penalty spot. Ronaldinho led Atlético Mineiro to a good 2012 season, in which the club finished second in the 2012 Brasileirão and qualified for the 2013 Copa Libertadores. Ronaldinho won the Bola de Ouro award, selected as the best player in the league.
The following year, Ronaldinho helped Atlético win the Campeonato Mineiro and led the club to its first title of the Copa Libertadores. Ronaldinho scored four goals and assisted on seven occasions throughout Atlético's dramatic title run, which included consecutive comebacks from 0–2 first leg defeats in both the semi-finals against Argentinian Newell's Old Boys and the finals against Club Olimpia from Paraguay. Both ties were determined in Atlético's favour after penalty shootouts. Ronaldinho's displays saw him voted the 2013 South American Footballer of the Year. He renewed his contract with Atlético in 2014, and after winning the 2014 Recopa Sudamericana, Ronaldinho left the club in July, reaching an agreement to cancel his contract by mutual consent.
After fitting a free agent, Ronaldinho 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, but eventually signed a two-year contract with Mexican club Querétaro on 5 September 2014. Ronaldinho made his debut for Querétaro in a 1–0 loss to Tigres UANL where he missed a penalty kick. In his next match, however, against Guadalajara, he had a much better game, setting up Camilo Sanvezzo to score as well as scoring himself from a penalty kick in a 4–1 win. On 30 October 2014, he scored a free kick against Atlas throughout an away match at the Estadio Jalisco.
On 18 April 2015, Ronaldinho scored twice against Liga MX title-holders América in an away game at the Estadio Azteca, in which his team won 4–0. All of the spectators, mostly consisting of América supporters, gave a standing ovation to Ronaldinho after his goals had brought him to tears. This was the second time in Ronaldinho's career he had received such an ovation from opposing fans (after Madrid fans had applauded his performance in a Barcelona shirt in 2005), and after the match, Ronaldinho stated in an interview, "It is an emotion to live more. I had an ovation at the Bernabéu and now here. I never imagined this. It is something that makes me like Mexico even more and I feel right at home."
Ronaldinho scored two penalties in consecutive matches, the second giving Querétaro the classification to the Liga MX playoffs. On 17 May 2015, Querétaro progressed to the semi-finals after defeating Veracruz 4–3 aggregate. In the second match, Ronaldinho scored a free kick with the help of the opponent's goalkeeper who made contact with the ball. In June 2015, Ronaldinho, now 35, announced his departure from the club and thanked the Mexican people and fans of Querétaro: “I want to thank all the Mexican nation for all the days that I have lived with people so special, you'll be forever in my heart. Thank you quite much the Nation Gallos Blancos, which made me quite proud to wear this shirt and defend this club."
On 11 July 2015, Ronaldinho announced his return to Brazil and signed an 18-month contract with Fluminense, but on 28 September, Ronaldinho reached a mutual agreement with the club to terminate the deal. He made nine appearances throughout his two-month stint at the club, failing to impress and being heavily criticised by the fans. Fluminense sporting director Mario Bittencourt stated, "Ronaldinho asked us for a meeting. He respectfully told us he didn't feel he was able to perform as good as he wanted and that it was a bad situation for him. He made a great gesture in saying he wasn't being the player he felt he can be right now. I'll never speak about whether or not he's retiring. That's not something you say about a player of his calibre. He was always spectacular, as player and person."
Ronaldinho is one of few Brazilian players to have played at every international age level. In 1997, he was part of the first Brazilian team to win the FIFA U-17 World Championship, which was held in Egypt, 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 21 goals while only conceding 2.
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 third place. Then he took part in that year's FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria, scoring his first goal in Brazil's last group match. In the round of 16, 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 quarter-finals.
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 throughout Brazil's victorious Copa América campaign. One week after the conclusion of the Copa América, he was called up for the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup, in which he scored in every match except the final, including a hat-trick in an 8–2 semi-final rout of Saudi Arabia. In the final, Brazil lost 4–3 to Mexico. Ronaldinho 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 the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, with the U23 team. Earlier that year, Ronaldinho led Brazil to win the Pre-Olympic Tournament, scoring nine goals in seven matches. In the Olympics, however, Brazil were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Cameroon, who later won the gold medal. Ronaldinho appeared four times and scored only one goal, which came in the quarter-final 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 Rs", who were additionally on the 1999 Copa América winning squad. The World Cup was held in Korea and Japan, and Ronaldinho appeared in five matches throughout the tournament and scored two goals, as well as contributing several important assists. His first goal came in the group stage match against China PR, which Brazil won 4–0.
The most memorable match in Ronaldinho's World Cup career took place in the quarter-final against England on 21 June. 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. Then, in the fiftieth 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. Seven minutes later, however, he was controversially sent-off for a foul on England's defender Danny Mills. Ronaldinho was suspended for the semi-final, but returned to Brazil's starting lineup for the 2–0 victory over Germany in the final as Brazil won its record fifth World Cup title.
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.
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 semi-final 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. Ronaldinho scored three goals in the tournament and is currently tied with Mexican forward Cuauhtémoc Blanco as the tournament's all-time scorer with nine goals.
2006 World Cup disappointment
For the 2006 World Cup finals, Ronaldinho was part of Brazil's much-publicized "magic quartet" of offensive players alongside Adriano, Ronaldo and Kaká, which was expected to provide the "Joga Bonito" style of play that was the focus of an extensive advertising campaign by Nike leading up to the tournament. Notwithstanding the group finished with only six goals in five games, with Ronaldinho himself going scoreless and finishing with only one assist (for Gilberto's goal in a 4–1 group stage victory over Japan), as he turned in his worst collective performance in his international career. Brazil endured a disappointing campaign that culminated in a 1–0 loss to France in the quarter-finals, throughout which the Seleção had only one shot on goal for the entire match.
The team was harshly criticised 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-metre (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 the city of 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 a large number of Brazilian fans, who believed that they were betrayed by the lack of effort from the squad.
2008 Olympic medal
On 24 March 2007, Ronaldinho scored twice in a 4–0 win over Chile, which marked his first goal after the 2005 Confederations Cup final and thus ended a scoreless streak that lasted nearly two years. He wasn't called up for the 2007 Copa América after asking to be excused from the tournament due to fatigue. 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.
On 7 July 2008, Ronaldinho was named in 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, China. 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 semi-final. Brazil finished with the bronze medal after defeating Belgium 3–0 in the bronze medal match.
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, he wasn't named in coach Dunga's final squad of 23 for the Brazilian squad in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup notwithstanding his deep desire to participate in the competition. Critics claimed that the exclusion of players such as Ronaldinho, Alexandre Pato, Adriano and Ronaldo signalled a move away from the classic Brazilian attacking "Jogo Bonito" style of play. At the tournament, Brazil was eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarter-final.
In September 2011, Ronaldinho made his return to the national team under coach Mano Menezes in a friendly against Ghana at Fulham's Craven Cottage, 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 equalise after Dani Alves was sent off. Brazil went on to win the match with a goal from Marcelo.
Ronaldinho's good form continued in 2013, and in January he was unexpectedly called up by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari for a friendly against England played on 6 February at Wembley Stadium as part of the The Football Association (FA)'s 150th anniversary. Ronaldinho started in what was his hundredth 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. 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. Notwithstanding Ronaldinho wasn't selected for the national team for the 2013 Confederations Cup and he was additionally omitted from Scolari's 2014 World Cup finals squad.
Style of play
Ronaldinho is regarded as one of the greatest and most skilful players of his generation. Due to his ability to score and create goals, he's capable of playing in several offensive positions, on either wing or in a central position. Throughout his career, he has been deployed as a forward, a winger, although he usually plays as a classic number 10 in an attacking midfield role. Despite primarily being a creative player, he's an accurate finisher with either foot, both from inside and outside the penalty area, and is additionally a free-kick and penalty kick specialist. Throughout his career, Ronaldinho has been praised in particular for his technical skills and creativity; due to his pace, acceleration, agility, balance, ball control, and dribbling ability, he's capable of beating players when undertaking individual runs, often using feints in one on one situations. Among his repertoire of moves, Ronaldinho is one of the best exponents of the "Elastico", a move he learned by watching videos of one of his idols, the 1970s Brazilian star Rivelino.
ESPN has described Ronaldinho as being "skillful by nature, his tricks are unparalleled and he's 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". Former Portugal midfield playmaker Rui Costa has said of his vision and passing ability, "There aren't a large number of 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."
Ronaldinho has had endorsements with a large number of companies, including Nike, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, EA Sports, Gatorade and Danone. One of the world's highest paid players, in 2006 he earned over $19 million from endorsements. 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 drinking Pepsi in a news conference.
Ronaldinho has featured in EA Sports' FIFA video game series, appearing on the cover of FIFA Football 2004, FIFA 06, FIFA 07, FIFA 08 and FIFA 09. At the beginning of his career Ronaldinho signed a lucrative 10-year deal with sportswear company Nike (wearing Nike Tiempo R10 boots designed for him). He has appeared in Nike commercials, including the 2002 "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded "Scopion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam. His 2005 Nike advertisement, where he's 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, fitting the site's first video to reach one million views.
A wax sculpture of Ronaldinho was unveiled at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong in December 2007. Ronaldinho has had an official role with UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, after February 2006. In 2011, he was recruited by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to promote awareness among young people of the disease and how to avoid it. In March 2015, Ronaldinho was the sixth most popular sportsperson on Facebook, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Beckham, Neymar and Kaká, with 31 million Facebook fans.
- As of 26 September 2015
|Paris Saint-Germain||2001–02||Division 1||28||9||6||2||14||2||—||48||13|
- Includes Brazilian state competitions and national super cups.
- As of match played 24 April 2013
In 2012, two Brazilian entomologists named a new species of bee, from Brazil, Eulaema quadragintanovem, stating that "the specific epithet honours 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 an homage to his mother, born in 1949."