Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho or Ronaldinho Gaúcho, is a Brazilian professional footballer and ambassador for Spanish club FC Barcelona. Ronaldinho has played mainly as an attacking midfielder, but has also been deployed as a forward or as a winger. He played the bulk of his career at European clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Milan as well as playing for the Brazilian national team. Regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation, Ronaldinho has won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon d’Or. He is renowned for his technical skills and creativity; due to his agility, pace and dribbling ability, as well as his use of tricks, overhead kicks, no-look passes and accuracy from free-kicks. 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 is 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 is an accurate finisher with either foot, both from inside and outside the penalty area, and is also 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 is 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 is 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 are not many 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.”
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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. However, deemed “top heavy and unbalanced”, the team finished with ten 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, during which the Seleção had only one shot on goal. The team was harshly criticized by Brazilian fans and media following their return home. On 3 July, two days after Brazil’s elimination, vandals immolated and destroyed a 23-foot (7.5-metre) 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 many Brazilian fans, who believed that they were betrayed by the lack of effort from the squad. Displaying a passivity to Brazil’s poor showing, the 2006 World Cup is now seen as the turning point in Ronaldinho’s career, with his time at the summit of the game almost up. 1970 Brazil World Cup winner Tostão wrote in O Tempo: “Ronaldinho lacks an important characteristic of Maradona and Pelé — aggression. They transformed themselves in adversity. They became possessed, and furious.”
Ronaldinho has had endorsements with many 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 is 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, becoming 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, since 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.
On 25 November 2006, Ronaldinho scored his 50th career league goal against Villarreal, then scored a second time with a spectacular overhead bicycle kick; receiving Xavi’s cross, he flicked the ball up with his chest and spun 180 degrees to finish – Barcelona fans waved white handkerchiefs in admiration of the goal. Post match he told reporters that the latter was a goal he had dreamed of scoring since 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 in Yokohama, Japan, 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.
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.
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As it happened for Ronaldo Nazario with “R9”, Nike dedicated to Ronaldinho his own sign called “R10”. The R10 collections were exclusive Nike collections dedicated to Ronaldinho. In 2005 at the peak of his powers, starred in a viral Nike clip that became the first video on YouTube to reach one million views. The doctored clip featured the Brazilian doing impossible tricks,apparently due to the special boots he was wearing. They featured real 24-carat gold in the Nike logo, a gold embroidered “R” and five stars on the heels to represent Brazil’s World Cup wins. They may seem demure by today’s standards, but at a time when coloured boots were not prevalent, they were quite radical.
This shirt was issued for Ronaldinho for the Champions League game between Zurich F.C. and A.C.Milan which took place in Zurich, “Letzigrund Stadion”, on December 8th 2009. A.C.Milan draw 1-11. The shirt had no sponsor on chest due the Swiss government rules that don’t allow betting sponsors (Milan’s sponsor was BWIN) to be advertised on sport’s events. Ronaldinho’s second season did not begin on a high note, but he soon rediscovered his form and was arguably Milan’s best player of the season. Newly appointed coach Leonardo changed his role from a central attacking midfielder to the left side of midfield, with Alexandre Pato on the right, in an offensive 4–3–3 formation. On 10 January 2010, Ronaldinho scored two goals against Juventus in an away match, sealing a 3–0 victory for Milan. In the following match, against Siena on 17 January, Ronaldinho scored his first hat-trick for Milan when he converted a penalty kick, scored with a header from a corner and finished with a strike into the top right corner from 20 yards out. The Estado De São Paulo newspaper declared, “Ronaldinho revives his golden years.” On 16 February, Ronaldinho played against Manchester United in the Champions League. He scored early in the game at the San Siro 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 Leonardo’s last game in charge.
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By the end of the year 2005, Ronaldinho had started to accumulate 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 also won the prestigious Ballon d’Or for the only time in his career.
On 16 January 2018, Ronaldinho confirmed his retirement from football through his brother/agent: “He has stopped, it is ended. Let’s do something pretty big and nice after the Russia World Cup, probably in August.” Such a celebration would take place three years after his last appearance for Fluminense.