O Bruxo – the smiling assassin. There was no one like him in world football, and there won’t be anyone like him soon. Ronaldinho was as unique a player as they come.
He was a genuine superstar who played with a smile across his face all the time. Ronaldinho has achieved everything that a player would like to achieve when they start their football career.
Moreover, Ronnie won every personal and team accolade there is to win and all that with an innocent smile on his face. He is why football became vibrant in the 2000s, and his immense talent and popularity made the game even more famous.
Ronaldinho’s training montages alone are better than most players’ career highlights. Highly influential for both his clubs and his country, Ronaldinho is regarded as one of the greatest ever players to grace the game of football.
Let’s delve into the maverick’s career and see his influence on the clubs he played for and the honours he achieved.
21st March 1980, the date when Ronaldo de Assis Moreira was born, in Porto Alegre. Ronaldo de Assis was given the name Ronaldinho – Dinho meaning “small,” because he was always the smallest and youngest player in any of his youth club matches.
Ronaldinho’s first viral moment occurred when at the tender age of 13, he scored all 23 goals in his team’s 23-0 win against a local youth side. It wasn’t long before he started getting noticed both for Brazil’s youth national team and clubs across Brazil.
Gremio – The Beginning of the Dream
At Gremio, Ronaldinho made the left-wing spot his own. He started playing regularly on the flanks, and that is where he developed his game. He made his professional debut during one of Gremio’s Copa Libertadores games in 1998. Moreover, he scored 1 goal and laid on one assist in his debut campaign.
The season after his debut was the one that kick-started Ronaldinho’s career. Ronaldinho scored 22 goals in 47 games for Gremio overall.
The icing on the cake during his career came in the 1999 season when he flicked the ball over the head of legendary Brazilian captain Dunga and leaving him flat-footed and dumbfounded in the final of the Grande Do Sul State Championship, which Gremio won thanks to an overall match-winning performance from Ronaldinho.
Ronaldinho also won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1999 with Brazil and ended up winning the best player and highest goalscorer in the tournament.
It wasn’t long before Ronaldinho started attracting interest from clubs around the world.
|Honours||Club: Copa Sul, Campeonato Gaucho|
Individual: FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball, FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Shoe
Paris Saint-Germain – Making a Name
PSG was not THE PSG at the time Ronaldinho joined them. He joined the French club for a reported €5m fee. As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that Ronaldinho was the big fish in the little pond. Despite having players like Okocha, Aloisio, and Anelka, Ronnie was the one making the difference for PSG.
Despite the slow start to his career at PSG, Ronaldinho went on a tear after the winter break. He scored in four consecutive games and dragged PSG into the semis of Coupe-de League, scoring two goals in the quarterfinals against Guingamp after coming on as a sub.
Unfortunately for Ronnie and PSG, they were eliminated in the semis by Bordeaux. Ronaldinho ended the season with 13 goals and 7 assists in 40 games.
2002/03 was Ronaldinho’s year. Blockbuster year. That year he got the no.10 shirt for PSG and announced himself on the World stage.
If you have time, then check Ronaldinho’s goal against Guingamp in a league game. That goal won the Goal of the season.
Ronaldinho beat one player, beat the second player with a one-two with his teammate, flicked the ball over the third player who was slide tackling into him, and stepped over to bamboozle the fourth one before dinking the ball over the goalkeeper to score the goal. Pure genius.
Ronaldinho took his team to the finals of the Coupe de France, with incredible performances from the smiling assassin throughout the campaign. Unfortunately for Ronaldinho and PSG, they came up short against Auxerre.
In the league, despite Ronaldinho’s best efforts, PSG finished in an estranged 11th position and without any European qualification.
Ronaldinho PSG Stats
World Cup 2002
This campaign needed its section. This is the campaign that catapulted Ronaldinho into stardom. Ronaldinho’s chemistry with Ronaldo and Rivaldo was the talk of the town. The Three R’s, as they were known during the campaign, eviscerated the whole tournament.
Ronaldinho himself had a campaign to remember. He appeared in 5 games in the tournament and scored 2 goals as well as laying 3 assists. His most memorable contribution came in the quarterfinals against England.
Trailing England, Ronaldinho turned the game on its head. He first wrong-footed Ashley Cole by running straight at him and then doing his trademark step-overs, then delivered a perfect pass to Rivaldo at the edge of the box to score the equaliser.
Ronaldinho then scored one of the greatest free-kicks of all time. With the ball dead at 40 yards from goal, he caught out David Seaman with a direct free-kick which sailed over Seaman and into the back of the net. Ronaldinho had turned the game around by himself. He was not finished, as he still managed to get himself sent off in the very game.
Having missed the semi-final, Ronaldinho was brought back into the line-up against Germany. Brazil ended up winning the world cup 2-0 with El Phenomenon – Ronaldo, scoring both goals in the final. Ronaldinho was a world cup winner.
FIFA World Cup 2002
Barcelona – Super Stardom and The Best Player in the World
Barcelona was in a dire-straits in the early 2000s. Valencia were winning League titles back-to-back, Madrid were winning multiple Champions League, and Barca were floundering.
They needed some inspiration, and having failed to land Beckham(Who joined Madrid) and Henry(Who stayed at Arsenal), Barcelona outbid Manchester United to land Ronaldinho.
Barcelona would put Ronaldinho’s transfer at the very top of their list of players who transformed the club. Before the Messi era began, Ronaldinho was the toast of the town. Right from the first game, even as a neutral, you knew Barcelona was on the up with Ronaldinho in the side.
Ronaldinho’s first season gave a glimpse into his Barca future. His first goal for Barca against Sevilla was a goal-of-the-season contender. He dribbled past two Sevilla players before hitting a ferocious drive from 30 yards that struck the underside of the crossbar and in.
Unfortunately, Ronnie got injured and had to miss most of the first half of the season, and Barca slumped to 12th in the league. Upon his return, Ronaldinho dragged Barcelona to 2nd. He scored 15 goals in that season and made sure Barca remained a Champions League club.
The following season, in 2004/05, Ronaldinho finally managed to win the League title and, in doing so, also won the FIFA World Player of the Year.
He was instrumental in Barcelona winning the league and again managed to leave a mark on the season overall.
Barcelona went out in the first knock-out round of the Champions League against Chelsea, losing 5-4 in aggregate. Ronaldinho scored both goals in the 4-2 defeat at Stamford Bridge. His 2nd goal was magical.
At the edge of the box, Ronaldinho feinted to shoot, and then with the smallest of back-lift, he managed to toe poke an effort past Petr Cech while the whole Chelsea defence stood like a mannequin having still not reacted from Ronaldinho’s feint shot. What a player.
In 2005/06, Ronnie won the Big Ears with Barcelona. The Champions League title finally made its way back to Blaugrana. Ronaldinho won the FIFPro World Player of the Year, European Player of the Year, and FIFA World Player of the Year, the latter for the second time.
Ronnie also won his one and only Ballon d’Or trophy during this mesmerising, all-conquering season.
This was also the season where he achieved the rarest of rare feats, he was applauded by the Real Madrid fans during their El Classico match, which Barca won 3-0 at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldinho scored two goals in the game, and he was so good during the game that when he got subbed off, Madrid fans clapped the Brazilian off the field.
The 2006/07 season was an almost season for Ronaldinho as:
- He finished third behind Cannavaro and Zidane for the FIFA World Player of the Year award
- Lost in the finals of the Club World Cup against Internacional
- Exited the Champions League against eventual finalists Liverpool in the last 16 stages
- Came second in the lead despite finishing on the same points as Real Madrid but lost out because of head-to-head record
Ronaldinho’s final season at Barca was an anti-climax as a muscle tear in his right leg prematurely ended his season in April, and his lifestyle outside of football started hampering his performances with the club.
Adding to that, the emergence of the future superstar Messi!
Ronaldinho’s time came to an abrupt albeit highly successful end at Barcelona after the 2007/08 season.
Ronaldinho Barcelona Stats
|Honours||Individual: FIFA Player of the Year Award * 2, Ballon d’Or, FIFPro World Player of the Year * 2, FIFPro World XI * 3|
Club: La Liga * 2, Champions League, Supercopa de Espana * 2
AC Milan – The Fading Superstar
Arriving for €23m, Ronaldinho’s career at AC Milan was blighted with injuries but was also sprinkled with some magical moments, as you would expect from the Brazilian.
His fitness issue annoyed then AC Milan coach Ancelotti who said he never doubted his talents, but his physical condition was not optimum.
Ronnie’s first season saw him score the only goal in a 1-0 victory over arch-rivals Inter, and then, despite having an easier route in the UEFA Cup, Milan went out of the competition against Werder Bremen in the first knock-out round. Ronaldinho finished the season with 10 goals.
Ronaldinho had a much better campaign in 2009/10. He scored twice against Juve in the league, Scored his first hat trick for the club, and led the assist chart in Serie A that year. That year Milan saw a glimpse of the peak of Ronaldinho.
They did lose to Manchester United to go out in the knockout stages of a European Cup once again. Still, Ronaldinho looked much better for Milan.
O Bruxo’s final season at Milan was forgettable at best. He barely played and was often sitting on the bench with Ibrahimovic and Robinho preferred in attack. Ronaldinho asked the club to leave, and Milan obliged.
Ronaldinho AC Milan Stats
|Honours||Individual: Sports Illustrated Team of the Decade|
Flamengo, Atlético Mineiro, Queretaro, Fluminese – The Twilight Years
Ronaldinho moved back to South America in 2011, and despite rumours about Ronnie moving back to his childhood club Gremio, he instead ended up joining Flamengo.
At Flamengo, Ronaldinho finally looked like a player who was coming to the end of his career on an upward trajectory. Ronaldinho won the Campeonato Carioca with Flamengo, and then after a good spell at the club, he ended up leaving them because of payment disputes.
Ronaldinho then moved to Atlético Mineiro, where he had the most successful period after returning to his native Brazil.
He won the Copa Libertadores, Campeonato Mineiro, and Recopa Sudamericana with Atletico Mineiro. He also ended up winning the Bola de Ouro in 2012 for being the best player in the league.
Ronaldinho left Atletico Mineiro after winning the Recopa Sudamericana and joined Mexican club Queretaro on a 2-year deal. While he did not win anything with the Mexican club, Ronnie did manage to score 8 times and lay on 8 assists in 29 matches for the club.
Fluminese was Ronaldinho’s final club, where he barely played. He only made 7 appearances without any significant output. Ronaldinho asked the club to cancel his contract by mutual agreement as he could not contribute to the club as he was not at the level the club expected him to be.
Ronaldinho played in a few futsal tournaments in India for Goa and a team in Delhi before finally hanging up his boots and retiring.
His glorious career came to an end with numerous individual and club accolades.
Ronaldinho’s Stats Playing in South America
|Club||Appearances||Goals||Assists||Honours ( Including personal)|
Ronaldinho will go down as one of the greatest players ever to play the game of football, and he always played with a smile on his face. That is why he was and still is so loved in the world of football!