Ronaldinho. A legend by nature.
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, or Ronaldinho, was born on March 21, 1980, in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
His mother Dona Miguelina Elói Assis dos Santos worked as a salesperson. His father, João de Assis Moreira, was a shipyard worker who also played football for a local club.
He was very close to his father, and shadowed his every move. Unfortunately, this man whom Ronaldinho idolized, died of a heart attack when he was only an eight-year-old boy. From that point on, his older brother took on responsibility for looking after the young Ronaldinho.
All of the responsibilities for filling the role left vacant by their father fell to Roberto de Assis Moreira, Ronaldinho’s brother. Football was an inherited passion and a commitment neither boy would abandon - always more than a pastime for the Moreira boys. Roberto was sought after by the Gremio club. In 1997, Ronaldinho got a call from the Brazilian national team U17, and ultimately became an important pillar in the Brazilian national team victory at the U17 World Cup event held in Egypt.
In 2001, Ronaldinho signed a 5 year contract with Paris Saint Germain. He had what might be considered mild success there, often being benched by Fernandez. It was when he joined the ranks at FC Barcelona that Ronaldinho’s career began to skyrocket. He developed into a star player who was able to pivot the team in a total 180 for los Blaugranas, putting them back in a winning streak.
Ronaldinho was also a member of the Brazilian squad in the World Cup 2002 and played an active role in helping his team win the title. He then achieved great success over the next few years, winning back-to-back FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2004 and 2005.
He became the golden boy of football and enchanted people globally, particularly with his warm, contagious smile. He went on to win the La Liga award, European Champions League and Spanish Super Cup for the Catalan team. Ronaldinho is most recognized for his precise technical skill, good-natured demeanor and general joy de vivre.
If there was a singular match that could be considered the highlight of his career, it was on a brisk Saturday night in Madrid, November 19, 2005. The 25-year-old scored two superb individual goals as Barcelona romped toward victory over their biggest rivals. In an unprecedented moment, thousands of Real Madrid fans turned their praise and began to applaud Ronaldinho's marvelous efforts that evening as Bernabeu rose to its feet as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Iker Casillas, shrugged his shoulders, seemingly powerless to the genius of the Brazilian-born magician.
This was a rare glimpse of admiration from the Real Madrid Fans for a Barca player. It was an unforgettable night that captured a rare, now famous image of a father and son applauding a player from their eternal rival’s team. The truth is, he wasn't just any player.
"Because of the joy of scoring and the celebration, I didn't notice the standing ovation. It's special. Only a few players have had this joy of being acclaimed by the fans of your arch rivals in a derby." - Ronaldinho. His creative mind and physical mastery was capable of executing unimaginable passages of play, bringing the value of a ticket for a chance to witness his performance, to priceless.
Ronaldinho was a player regarded for his technique, tricks, overhead kicks, and dribbling. Along with Ronaldo and Rivaldo, he was a part of the attacking trio that made the Brazilian team one of the most formidable in international football. He will forever be remembered for his love of the game that was so easy to recognize while he was on the pitch and through his enigmatic smile.
Football predecessors and contemporaries including Pelé, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona have paid tribute to one of the most universally popular players of all-time, after Ronaldinho officially announced his retirement.
"I got so much joy watching you play football, Ronaldinho. And as a person you are 'a king'. I love you so much." - Diego Maradona
“You brought a smile to everyone's face...I hope you glide through life, like you glided through tackles. Ronaldinho, você trouxe um sorriso no rosto de todos. Desejo que você consiga driblar todos os desafios da vida, assim como fez nos gramados.” - Pelé
"As I always said, I learned a lot by your side. I will always be grateful to you for how easy it was when I got to the first team because you did everything for me. I was lucky to share many things with you and I am very happy because, in addition to being a phenomenon with the ball, you are a very great person and that is the most important thing. Even if you have decided to leave, football will never forget your smile. All the best, Ronnie."
- Lionel Messi
For his achievements and dedication during his career in the world of football, Ronaldinho will always be considered one of the greats - a legend. We miss you, Ronny!
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