Every generation of football fans has a player who made the game look like the easiest and most fun in the world.
Today’s youngsters have had the pleasure of watching Lionel Messi destroy defenses across the planet with incredible simplicity, but before him, Barcelona had another world champion who claimed the coveted GOAT tag.
Ronaldinho was already a World Cup winner when he joined the Catalan giants in 2003. He had made himself known to the world in South Korea by royally robbing England goalkeeper David Seaman with a long and winding free kick before he was sent off in the same. quarterfinal match.
His first season went well and scored 21 goals in all competitions, although the trophy honor was avoided by Barça when they fell short in La Liga, Copa del Rey and the UEFA Cup.
He was named FIFA’s World Player of the Year in 2004, showing that he was at the top of his game before retaining the title a year later with his only Ballon d’Or. He also earned the France Football award, finishing comfortably ahead of nearest rivals Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
Although he did not always get the goal and assist figures we fainted over at this time, the Brazilian was still clear before the pack. And besides, he always had a smile on his face.
He could do anything with the ball at his feet. Beat players easily with a trick or a trick, play incredible passes and score the most extraordinary goals.
One of those strikes was his brilliant shimmy and strike against Chelsea in the Champions League, where he made a fool of world-class players like John Terry and Petr Cech from the edge of the box.
He thrived under the leadership of manager Frank Rijkaard and called him “the best coach I have ever had and he is also a good friend”. Barça had struggled before Ronaldinho arrived and he helped them win their first La Liga title since 1999 2004/05.
He even received standing ovations at the Bernabeu when Barça went on to beat Real Madrid 3-0 on their own. At that time, the only Blaugrana player that Los Blancos players had shown their appreciation for in such a way was Diego Maradona.
He was rightly awarded the 2005 Ballon d’Or because his incredible achievements set Barcelona on the path to a historic treble in 2005/06, where he ran riots with Samuel Eto’o, Henrik Larsson and a new Lionel Messi.
There were also more successes on the international stage when Brazil won the Confederations Cup in 2005. Ronaldinho scored three goals in the tournament – including one in the 4-1 final victory against Argentina – when Selecao swept away the competition, although they surprisingly lost to Mexico in the group stage.
Showboating is not as widely loved as it was during Ronaldinho’s heyday, but he was a player who was incredibly difficult to dislike. When he played, his eyes were glued to the pitch in arenas and on screens in homes around the world.
Ballon d’Or winners will continue to come and go, but future winners may never be as iconic, flamboyant and authentic as Ronaldinho.
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