Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ronaldinho: The One Man Show

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (born March 21, 1980 in Porto Alegre), commonly known as Ronaldinho or Ronaldinho Gaúcho,[3] is a Brazilian footballer who plays for Italian Serie A club A.C. Milan and the Brazil national team.

Ronaldinho, Portuguese for "little Ronaldo", is known in Brazil by the nickname Ronaldinho 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.

He has played for Paris Saint-Germain, and FC Barcelona, with whom he won his first Champions League in 2006. He became a Spanish citizen in January 2007.[4]

Born into a footballing family (his late father Joao played for Cruzeiro and his brother, now his manager, Roberto played for Gremio), the young Ronaldinho found more enjoyment in futsal and beach football before graduating to playing the standard game.

He began his football career at his brother's old club Gremio in the youth team under future Brazil World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and progressed to the first team aged 18 in 1998 and had made his Brazilian national team debut a year later in 1999.

His goalscoring exploits and sublime skill on the ball drew much attention from Europe and in 2001 Ronaldinho left Gremio to move to France and Paris St. Germain. His time in Paris was littered with fallings out with then PSG coach Luis Fernandez who disapproved of Ronaldinho's love of Parisian nightlife and after two mildly successful years in France he again packed his bags and headed for Barcelona.

In his first season at Barcelona Ronaldinho more than justified his reputed £18m price tag as he helped coax the Catalan giants into second place in La Liga and earnt himself the title of 2004 World Player of the Year.

Having caught the eye of big spending Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, Ronaldinho was the subject of a failed £60m bid from the West London club and despite the resignation of his friend Sandor Rosell as Barcelona's vice president of sports, he signed a new contract in late 2005 with the Catalan club.

As well as helping Barcelona to back to back La Liga titles in 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 and the European Champion's League in 2006, Ronaldinho has also won a host of personal awards including:

FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005
FIFPro World Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006
European Footballer of the Year in 2005
UEFA Champions League Best Forward in 2004-05
World Soccer Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005
and UEFA Champions League Most Valuable Player in 2005-06.

Ronaldinho also became a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002.