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Ronaldinho offered chance for final hurrah

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Tim Vickery | 08:12 UK time, Monday, 1 November 2010

Ronaldinho has been recalled to the Brazil squad for the forthcoming friendly against Argentina and there are some who might think the call has come six months too late.

When it all went wrong in the second half of that World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands, and coach Dunga looked along his substitutes bench in search of a saviour, was he really more pleased to see the likes of Julio Baptista than Ronaldinho?

With hindsight, the answer appears obvious. Going into the World Cup, though, Dunga was entitled to think differently.

He had been unable to find a way to get Kaka, Robinho and Ronaldinho to function together. Ronaldinho had been given chance after chance and had thrown them away, performing like a pitiful apology for his former self. Once he was jettisoned, results improved and the team seemed to take shape.

There is no doubt about it - the main person responsible for the absence of Ronaldinho from the World Cup was Ronaldinho himself. It was a sporting tragedy.

At the age of 30, the tournament in South Africa could - perhaps should - have been Ronaldinho's definitive statement as an international footballer, and one of the most talented players the game has ever seen.

He is clearly a much more complex character than his happy, smiling image suggests.

For all his natural talent, it is not possible to become so outstanding in a competitive activity like football without a true love for the game. By the same token, such a waste of his peak years can only point to a strong disillusionment.

He went through a mini-slump following Brazil's failure at the 2000 Olympics, a precursor for the massive depression that set in after the 2006 World Cup. Did the responsibility prove too great in Germany?

Ronaldinho in action for AC Milan against Real Madrid - photo: AP

In his pomp, Ronaldinho had no problems being the leader of the pack at Barcelona. Was it so different when he was representing his country? Was too much of his self-worth bound up with results? Did he really derive so little pleasure from his own breathtaking ability, the source over the years of so much pleasure for so many? Was partying really more important? How could he not see that he had his whole life to party, whereas his one great talent has a ruthlessly unforgiving shelf life?

Barcelona gave up on him after failing to get a reaction with either the carrot or the stick and Milan had similar problems, at least until Leonardo took charge last season. A mixture of coach, psychologist and older brother, Leonardo managed to coax something of a revival from Ronaldinho - though it proved too little and too late to win him a place on the plane to South Africa.

Earlier this year, when Milan were bundled out of the Champions League by Manchester United, I felt a pang of worry for him. Those two matches effectively ended his campaign to go to the World Cup.

I feared that he might be caught in a downward spiral, instead of which, here he is back in the Brazil squad, with the chance to play his way in for a last hurrah on home soil in 2014.

Two things have changed. Firstly, he is no longer restricting himself to that small strip of the pitch down the left flank. In some games, he has taken on a more central role.
This is important because at the highest level it is very hard for a wide player to make an impression without searing pace.

Once, lightning acceleration was Ronaldinho's trademark. He has lost it, and even it he works hard to get it back, time is against him. Playing in the middle gives him more options for his passing ability.

This is where the second change comes into play. Under new coach Mano Menezes Brazil have changed their approach. No longer restricted to the counter-attack, now they are looking to play a more possession-based game - which needs players capable of putting it into practice.

In August, Menezes' Brazil made an excellent start with a win over the United States. Last month they were not quite so impressive beating Iran and Ukraine.

Against the US, promising playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso made a sound debut, operating centre-field in a 4-2-3-1 formation but he picked up a serious injury soon afterwards and his absence - or, more accurately, the absence of a player of his type - was strongly felt.

Against Iran, for example, Robinho, Carlos Eduardo and Philippe Coutinho - three players who like to run with the ball - played behind lone striker Alexandre Pato, but however quickly they run, someone with a good range of passing will always move the ball quicker.

This, then, could be Ronaldinho's role against Argentina. He could be the senior statesman, surrounded by speed merchants to do the running, using his experience to pick the passes and direct the attack - a role similar to the one the veteran Zidane carried out for France in the 2006 World Cup, where, of course, it all went wrong for Ronaldinho.

Is he up to the task? The answer probably lies as much in his mind as in his body. Those of us who love watching him at his exuberant best will hope that the chance of making history in 2014 works as a powerful motivating force.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) I am Colombian, and Atletico Nacional supporter. I have a question about the former Nacional player, currently with Racing Club in Argentina, Giovanni Moreno. Can he make it in the Premier League? What do you think about him?
Esteban Jaramillo

A) A very interesting player, who's made an excellent start to his spell in Argentina. He's a lanky figure who plays either as a conventional number 10 or a little higher as a support striker. He has a terrific left foot, combines well and seems to have a strong personality, and would seem to have a brilliant future.

I'm not sure about England, though. His favoured position is not easy - space is squeezed, there's little time to decide what to do. Here his build works against him - with those telescopic legs he perhaps lacks speed off the mark. England might not be his ideal destination, but I think he can succeed in Europe and he has a big part to play for the Colombian national team.

Q) Who do you think Brazil's best right back is at the moment? With Maicon slipping lately (at least in relation to his lofty standards), I see Alves taking the spot. Alves is also a bit younger, and Maicon's legs may be beginning to go. Do you see Alves finally upstaging Maicon? Menezes has a decision on his hands, albeit admittedly a good problem to have.
Eric Lurz

A) Maicon hasn't had a look-in since the World Cup, as Menezes has gone with Daniel Alves. In fact, very few of the Dunga gang have been called up, though the new man is keen to stress that the door is not closed. But at the next World Cup Maicon will be pushing 33, while Daniel Alves will just have turned 30, and that surely tips the battle in his favour. The other right back in the squad is Man United's Rafael.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Ronaldinho is the Ronnie O'Sullivan of football (or vice versa)...

    What most of us would give to have the talent he has. It's a travesty that he's let it go to waste in the last few years. I hope he does make a comeback but time is not on his side and I can't really picture him rediscovering the form that he had during his peak at Barca.

  • Comment number 2.

    It always astounds me how professional footballers seem to be so effected by emotional and mental issues. Top pros would appear to have everything they need - a great career, gorgeous wives/girlfriends, loads of money and international fame; yet so many seem have the emotional stability of teenagers.

    These guys are getting paid vast amounts of money, they should just go out and do their job. I know that I wouldn't get away with acting like Ronaldinho, or countless other players, at their worst in my work.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't know about "in hindsight", there were an awful lot of us saying that Dunga's squad was lacking in creativity and putting far too much on the shoulders of a recently injured and out of form Kaka, as soon as the Brazil World Cup squad was announced. I argued that Paulo Henrique Ganso should have been included, but as you say Ronaldinho would have been preferable to Julio Baptista.

  • Comment number 4.

    It is a real shame that he let it go when he should have been at the peak of his game. There are many other players that have gone through similar things, but very few with the level of raw talent of Ronaldinho.

    Everyone keeps going on about Dunga's Brazil lacking creativity, but didn't they win the Copa América & Confederations Cup playing the same style of football?

    http://southamerican-futbol.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 5.

    Ronaldinho lost his magic post 2006 world cup. It is important he plays more matches to rediscover his form back. He can yet again become the most lovable character he once was reknowned for. I loved him as a player when he was on song playing for Barcelona.

    C'mon Ronladinho!

  • Comment number 6.

    It was the World Cup Quarter Final, not semi.

  • Comment number 7.

    Glad to hear Ronaldinho might get another look in for Brazil. Even more so than Messi he is capable of producing 1 or 2 moments in a game where you have to watch the slow-motion replays to see exactly what's happened, and what he's done with his feet.

    Not so sure that a player this talented needs a genuine love of the game to play at the very top however. I remember Hidetoshi Nakata didn't like football at all, and I also heard that Batigol didn't enjoy it much - for him it was just a very well paid job. That might however explain why these guys didn't the longevity of others - Nakata retired at about 28, Batistuta was dreadful after he won the Scudetto at Roma, and Ronaldinho peaked very early in his career.

  • Comment number 8.

    "It always astounds me how professional footballers seem to be so effected by emotional and mental issues. Top pros would appear to have everything they need - a great career, gorgeous wives/girlfriends, loads of money and international fame; yet so many seem have the emotional stability of teenagers."

    Surely the fact that these days they quite often do not get the chance to be teenagers may be a factor in this? im not sure what it is like outside of the UK but i know for a fact that "superstar players" are often in the limelight from a very young age? look at the wayne rooney situation, yes he had made some bad decisions, but how can anyone judge him as not many people will understand what its like to be under so much pressure and scrutiny from the age of 16,17 or 18? he is bound to slip up and make mistakes but they are made to be 1,000 times worse by the press.
    This even happens outside of sport, britney spears is an example of someoe who hasnt had a proper growing up going off the rails!?

    Back to ronaldinho, it is a shame he hasnt been able to keep up the performances and moments of brilliance he was putting in a few years ago, but they are still there if only in flashes.

    I just hope they do become more frequent once again.

  • Comment number 9.

    2. At 09:46am on 01 Nov 2010, jimbosami wrote:
    These guys are getting paid vast amounts of money, they should just go out and do their job. I know that I wouldn't get away with acting like Ronaldinho, or countless other players, at their worst in my work.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    No offence, but comments like this always make me smile. What is your job? Do you work in an office? When you finish that last bit of filing, do you hurtle down the room to milk that applause from half a dozen gobsmacked colleagues?

    If you had earned the money Ronaldinho has, like most lottery winners you would have quit your boring job a long time ago.

    I don't think there is any tragedy with Ronaldinho. He won titles and the Champions League with Barcelona, he won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, and he has won individual titles like World Player of the Year. What hasn't he achieved? Sure, I understand the point of Tim Vickery's article that aside from 2002, Ronaldinho has perhaps underachieved with Brazil but he's won the Copa America and the World Cup and it takes a special kind of personality to go back and have the motivation to do it again. I don't think many professionals would turn their noses up at Ronaldinho's career, and remember it's not over yet!

    There's this perception that he's a party animal and he's wasted his talent lately but I would love to 'waste' my talent like Ronaldinho...despite what people have said, his fall from grace is nothing like as spectacular as someone like George Best or even Maradona.

  • Comment number 10.

    @7 I remember Hidetoshi Nakata didn't like football at all, and I also heard that Batigol didn't enjoy it much - for him it was just a very well paid job.

    ------------------------------

    Utter Garbage. Did you never see the great Batigol celebrate one of his goals? The great man was passion personified. Without a doubt he should have won more recognition as he was the Worlds greatest striker for a 5-10 year period, the fact that he remained loyal to Fiorentina for so long (not moving for big money offers) meant that he did not win the trophies or recognition that he deserved. When he did eventually leave Fiorentina he won the Scudetto with Roma in his first season. After that unfortunately injuries caught up with him, (before that he had been remarkably injury free).

    To suggest that he was only motivated by money is ridiculous. To be Serie A top striker for so long at a time when it was the best league in the World requires unbelievable ability and effort.

    With regards to Ronaldinho, I just think the next World Cup will come too late for him. Some players peak earlier than others, and I suspect that although he can still produce glimpses of magic, Brazil will move on to younger players by 2014. At his peak though he was truly brilliant for Barcelona, that hat trick at the Bernabeu will take some beating!

    Great Blog Tim.

  • Comment number 11.

    @8 "This even happens outside of sport, britney spears is an example of someoe who hasnt had a proper growing up going off the rails!?
    Back to ronaldinho..."

    Bonus points for #8 for showing how to segue from Britney Spears to Ronaldinho... brilliant! :)

  • Comment number 12.

    @10 re: Batigol
    +1
    A consummate professional and one of the best strikers I've ever seen, with Ronaldo and Romario.

  • Comment number 13.

    #6 - beat me to it

    #3 - agree on that one, before the World Cup I was saying that the Brazil squad was, relatively speaking, the worst Brazil squad I'd ever seen sent to a finals tournament and I fancied Holland to beat them in the quarters (although that was based on the Holland of Euro 08/the qualifiers turning up and they were never that good at the finals).

    Onto Mr Ronaldinho, of all the players I'd seen in my lifetime he's the most talented bar none, I think he had more in his tool shed than even Zidane or M Laudrup but never had the desire. Saw him as a 17 year old (back when he was called Ronaldo) at the U19 WC and even then he was amazing. It's such a shame, I think WC 2006 was really the end of him, at his peak at Barca he was never one to seek to take leadership of a team, he never sought to make a team 'his team'. Even when we was considered the best footballer in the world he was never a leader like Zidane was to France, look at all the talent around him at Barca, he never had to carry that team, upon being crowned World Footballer of the Year he said he didn't even feel that he was the best player at his club. At WC 2006 he was expected to be the star, to carry that Brazil team, Ronaldo was overweight and Kaka was not yet established as a super star, he was expected to be the man and I don't think he could handle it. I just remember a 36 year old Zidane running rings around him and Ronaldo in the quarter finals of 06, pitty that that's my most abiding memory of him as a footballer.

  • Comment number 14.

    @9 " it takes a special kind of personality to go back and have the motivation to do it again"

    And that's the difference between Great players and Ronaldinho. He was a brilliant club player but could never really perform in the same manner for the national team.

    As for winning the World Cup, well, it was more of a team effort, as Ronaldinho never really took off in any of the WCs he participated in.

    Still, it was fun to see him play for Barcelona where he shone so brightly, although briefly, relatively speaking, during his best seasons for the Catalans.

  • Comment number 15.

    jimbosami writes:
    "It always astounds me how professional footballers seem to be so effected by emotional and mental issues. Top pros would appear to have everything they need - a great career, gorgeous wives/girlfriends, loads of money and international fame; yet so many seem have the emotional stability of teenagers."

    I think you've nailed it there. So much emphasis is put on creating superstars from such a young age that a player with such prodigious talents as Ronaldinho is gifted too much. I mean, he's been on astronomical wages since his very early 20's and has only ever had his talent focussed on. There seems to be very little support from clubs for players where football isn't concerned. Clubs nowadays are lads of 20-21 around £100k per week and they give very little thought to how this will affect the 'person' as they only see a talent.

    Perhaps if clubs took a more rounded approach to coaching young players, talents like Ronaldinho would be on show for the duration of a career?

  • Comment number 16.

    @ #9.

    Resorting to personal attacks - comments like yours make me smile. Of course I would have retired if I had Ronaldinho's wealth, that kinda goes without saying.

    If he has lost his motivation as you suggest, then why doesn't he retire?

    He has had a fantastic career and will go down as one of the best footballers of the past decade. However that is no excuse for wasting a talent such as his.

    You talk about motivation, how about the motivation to become the best that you can be, to better oneself as much as possible, not coast along on past successes.

    Oh and I don't work in an office, it far worse than that, I work in a call centre. There aren't a lot of jobs around at the moment in case you hadn't noticed.

  • Comment number 17.

    #3- Exactly, the fact that Brazil lacked creativity and it could cost us the WC was pretty obvious to most of us, myself included.

    And at the 2014 World Cup Maicon will be 32 and Daniel Alves will be 31.

  • Comment number 18.

    @13 very true, what's with these very talented players who seem to make disappearing acts every time their team is in trouble and they need them to take the leadership?

    Ronaldinho and Messi are just two examples of this kind of player. Shame that the Maradona, Zidane, Laudrup kind of players, the ones with great talent and who are willing to carry the team on their shoulders, as it were, are becoming extinct.

  • Comment number 19.

    "Everyone keeps going on about Dunga's Brazil lacking creativity, but didn't they win the Copa América & Confederations Cup playing the same style of football?"

    Er, yeah, they won those tournaments with a fully fit and effective Kaka. Dunga's system was very reliant on Kaka producing the goods. To go in to a tournament with him unfit and lacking in form, it was unforgiveable not to have somebody to back him up.

  • Comment number 20.

    13. At 11:37am on 01 Nov 2010, witness2gr8ness wrote:
    Onto Mr Ronaldinho, of all the players I'd seen in my lifetime he's the most talented bar none, I think he had more in his tool shed than even Zidane or M Laudrup but never had the desire
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not sure I agree with that statement. I think a lot of what made people sit up and go 'wow' with Ronaldinho were his tricks and flicks combined with his speed in match situations. But tricks and flicks do not necessarily make the greatest player. Zidane had just as much natural talent, but he didn't necessarily feel the need to be as extravagant all the time like Ronaldinho might choose to be. It was perfectly in Zidane's power to showcase skills when he wanted to. A player like Rivaldo was also a brilliant dribbler and an even deadlier finisher than Ronaldinho.

    In short, Ronaldinho was brilliant but maybe hyped up a little too much. If you expected him to challenge Maradona or Zidane for a greatest player of his era status, then I can understand people's disappointment, but mentality is also part of what makes a great player.

  • Comment number 21.

    16. At 11:39am on 01 Nov 2010, jimbosami wrote:
    @ #9.

    Resorting to personal attacks

    Oh and I don't work in an office, it far worse than that, I work in a call centre. There aren't a lot of jobs around at the moment in case you hadn't noticed.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Woah, easy there! I was joking mate. I wasn't attacking you, I don't know you. I didn't even know what job you do. It was a general comment on people comparing their jobs to that of footballers. I was basically saying that unless you live their lives and know what motivates them, I don't see how you can have that opinion that some footballers don't do their jobs properly. Particularly on a player like Ronaldinho who has won everything and given a lot of pleasure to a lot of fans in the process.

  • Comment number 22.

    #8, to most people the worrying realisation that you have to have money in order to do the things you want forces you to grow up, get educated and seek gainful employment in order to do so.

    These (top) players have always had access to money, and have never gone through the fear of destitution that most of us have. It stands to reason if you're used to having everything you want and haven't had to make the emotional transition from childhood to adulthood that at times they will behave in a peculiar way.

    If they have had that fear as kids, that is to say they are from a poorer background, some show a hunger for it, a desire to succeed. Yet some never seem to move on from their peer groups, and get dragged into all sorts of shenanigans. It's certainly an interesting test of character being flooded with such money, just a shame I haven't had the opportunity to see how I would handle it...yet.

  • Comment number 23.

    21.

    I know you were joking, I kinda was too with my response. A few crossed wires is all.

    Of course we can't make any accurate assumptions about Ronaldinho's (or anybody else's) personal life.

    I didn't mean to say that some footballers don't do their jobs properly, Ronaldinho could do more with a football in his sleep than I could ever hope to do. What annoys me is seeing players wasting their talent. Most people would give everything they had to have Ronaldinho's talent, which is why it is such a shame to see him or others appear to waste that talent.

  • Comment number 24.

    @20

    Point taken, but to be honest my assessment of him wasn't based mainly on his trickery (although his bag of tricks was delightful and seemed bottomless). I think, on his day, he had just as much vision as Zidane or Laudrup although will concede that he didn't show this as consistently as either of the two. His quick short range interplay with team mates I rate better than Zidane but below Laudrup. Where I give him the edge over the other two was that I feel he had a more accurate/venomous shot then the other two, slightly better eye for goal, and better pace and hence could run the counter attack better. On his day (sadly not as often as the other two) he could orchestrate the game on a comparable level to Zidane or Laudrup (though probably not as well) but could also just turn it into an individual show (ala vs Madrid at the Bernabeu when he got the ovation from Real fans) and this option he had more in abundance than Zidane or Laudrup and that's why I gave him the edge in terms of potential. Although I'll concede in terms of footballing brains he was always below the aforementioned.

  • Comment number 25.

    I love players like Ronaldinho, absolute world beaters..... If they feel like it.

  • Comment number 26.

    For sure, there is a far more complex character living in that callow exterior, just like Eto'o. The ground these guys have to cover to go from happy-go-lucky to raging mad is massive and they do so with lightning speed. As you remarked for someone who loves it as much to just turn on it like a bad hubby, it's perplexing. That kind of love is seen in the likes of C. Ronaldo even at training. I remember watching an interview of his with a prelude where in training, his only interest and delight was continually striking the crossbar with the ball. Nothing short of magical and love for his beautiful game or dame.

  • Comment number 27.

    @18: Ronaldinho and Messi are just two examples of this kind of player. Shame that the Maradona, Zidane, Laudrup kind of players, the ones with great talent and who are willing to carry the team on their shoulders, as it were, are becoming extinct.
    =====================================
    While I don't entirely disagree with you, I would argue that there have always been, and will always be, two very different types of highly talented player. To use your examples as a convenient shorthand; the 'Zidane' and the 'Ronaldino'.
    Neither is particularly more talented, but one is certainly more team orientated while the other is perhaps somewhat more self interested. Both kinds of talent still exist and will continue to do so, although perhaps the arguement that a the way a player is brought through/paid/grows up is what makes them what they are may hold some water.
    Two excellent young examples currently playing in the EPL would be Adam Johnson, a huge talent with tricks and pace aplenty, but perhaps a bit more interested in scoring goals himself then helping the team (a 'Ronaldino'), and Cesc Fabregas who without doubt fills a Zidane-esque role for Arsenal.

  • Comment number 28.

    20. At 11:45am on 01 Nov 2010, Someone Less Imaginative Stole My Username wrote:

    In short, Ronaldinho was brilliant but maybe hyped up a little too much. If you expected him to challenge Maradona or Zidane for a greatest player of his era status, then I can understand people's disappointment, but mentality is also part of what makes a great player.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Spot on there. Mentality and temperament are just as important in making a great player as talent. The most talented player in the world will go nowhere if he doesn't bother training and only puts in the bare minimum of effort during games (I have a mate kinda like this actually). Its really frustrating for talentless workhorses such as myself.

  • Comment number 29.

    How many prodigies don't have fortitude? Fortitude is a learned trait for some so just associating it with maturity juxtaposed with adolescence is shallow, an over-generalisation of that trait. Who says it is the feature of adolescents? Generalisations like that have their temperances in the few who do not share in that normal.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think that due to the amount of money in the game these days that we will, unfortunately, see more and more players waste their talent. Some players are millionaires from such a young age these days, and while I have no sympathy for them, it must be more difficult to motivate yourself knowing that by the age of 25 you already have more than enough money to retire on. Tim is spot on when he says that players need a love of the game to make the most of their talents - and that is especially true in this day and age.

  • Comment number 31.

    Ronaldinho has ruined himself, he got too hung on the glory and thought the world was at his feet which resulting in him driknking and partying like an animal,I do feel barcalena had some part to play in his reputation and career going down the drain, when the president or the club tells you we are going to sell you if dont come up with the goods isnt a nice movitation or good thing said for any player, as this can have a mental affect on the player seeming that he was seen as a golden boy of barca,

    Ac milan was a bad choice i perosnally feel that ronaldinho should have gone back home, good at adriano, wanger love and ronaldo have all gone bakc and reenighted their career

  • Comment number 32.

    First of all. Quite a good blog...always nice to read something unrelated to the current main headlines for a change!

    Secondly...#9 has it pretty much right here to be honest. I don't usually leave comments, but it grinds my gears reading how arrogant some of the users can be. How can you realistically argue that Ronaldinho has wasted his talent? You've got the audacity to argue as if you've been privy to his personal sporting and life goals. Perhaps if his personal aim was to leave a lasting legacy as the greatest player ever..you may, MAY, have a small point. Otherwise, it's just a pile of subjective rubbish argued as if it's factual.

    The man has won pretty much every single individual honour available. He was world player of the year..twice. Look at his trophy cabinet. He's achieved all that, global fame, and made himself enough money to never have to work again. He's done that, and supposedly lived more of a party lifestyle than most footballers. By the looks of things, he's traded a more disciplined professional outlook in his younger years, for having a more enjoyable social life. Let's face it, you're only young once.

    If you deem that a waste, fair enough, just realise you're outlook on life may be different to Ronaldinho's. He's probably had a whale of a time, and that's what counts.

  • Comment number 33.

    'Barcelona gave up on him after failing to get a reaction with either the carrot or the stick.'

    OR

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/7356366.stm

    Sounds a lot like a certain Wayne Rooney and his diminishing form since a poor world cup. Very interesting similarities.

  • Comment number 34.

    Tim,
    You can repeat as much as you want to that Ronaldinho blew his chances. That is correct but the reason behind that is that the guy was overweight. Both Ronaldo and Ronaldinho were overweight during the WC-2006 campaign.
    Think about how Ronaldo just stand in one place during WC-2006 and his compatriot Dinho just walked around in the forward-left side of the field. These 2 players caused Brazil the WC-2006 crowned.
    Ronaldinho was the best Brazilian midfielder at club level leading up to the World Cup. It was ridiculous for not bringing him back in the fold.
    I am happy that Dunga's side lost. Because if they had won that would set back the artistry, flair and creativity that Brazilian football is known to produce.

  • Comment number 35.

    To the guy saying Ronaldinho did not carry Barca, you must remember neither Xavi nor Iniesta were in the form they are in today. This Barcelona side will do extremely well without Messi but that Barcelona side was carried by Ronaldinho.

    I can safely say I haven't seen a better player in my lifetime than Ronaldinho. Pure genius

  • Comment number 36.

    I think a few people have made this point already but I think some contributions are confusing letting your career slide and wasting your career.

    Ronaldinho has won top level league titles, European Cups and the World Cup. If Ronaldinho never kicked a ball again it's hard to see how anyone could see that as a career wasted.

    What I think has happened with Ronaldinho is he has become somewhat reliant on his past reputation to earn his living rather than his actual week in week out performances. Him and his agent both know that despite looking relatively average since he joined Milan, if he left them tomorrow there would still be a line of teams willing to take a chance on him for considerable wages. His merchandising value alone make him a logical signing for a club. When you don't have to produce the goods regularly on the pitch to justify your wage it's easy to see how his motivation might have somewhat faded.

    Other examples of players arguably living of reputations based on performances some years ago are numerous in recent years. Michael Ballack, Hernan Crespo, Roberto Carlos, P.Cannavaro etc.

  • Comment number 37.

    It's the old saying, getting to the top is the easy part, staying there is the hard part.

    On his day though he was without a shadow of a doubt, completely unplayable.

    I'll not forget the applause he received at the Bernabeu after a stunning hat-trick.

  • Comment number 38.

    6 - you are entirely correct, it was of course the quarter final, not the semi - a foolish slip up on my part.
    i can assure you, though, that it didn't happen as a result of partying too hard while trying to write the article!

  • Comment number 39.

    Please guys tell me what ronnie has won in his career and tell me what does he have to play for. As LEGACY goes he has won it all.Except the English prem were we would all love to see him have a combination of Ian Holloway's Blackpool.

  • Comment number 40.

    #35, when Ronaldinho said he wasn't even the best player in Barcelona, was that not a reference to his admiration for Xavi and his importance to the team?

    #32 is basically spot on, his outlook on life is no doubt completely different to that of the journalists and fans who loved to watch him play. He's his own man and should live his life as he sees fit. I can understand the disappointment as well though, we all love to watch the best players at the peak of their powers.

  • Comment number 41.

    Ronaldinho was a great talent but has lost it and am not too optamistic that he can rediscover the same magic, lets face it he's no Zidane. And I say that with all due respect to the guy. I enjoyed his spell at Barca as did many others, even Madrid supporters were giving him standing ovations. I really hope he shines just one last time but won't be easy at his age.

    This problem is present with most brazilian player these days, they seem to go off the rails once they sign a few lucrative deals. I suppose they get caught up in all the hype and coming from a poor past doesn't help either. Look at Kaka, he came from a good family that had everything and has managed to stay on track. These players now need some people for support to help them off the field and direct them in the right direction from early on, I mean what could Ronaldinho have achieved and given his fans had he kept focused on football alone and had great off-field support? Am not saying they should be denied their partying lifestyle but it all need to be kept in check and balanced with their work (football), afterall it's football that gives them these luxuries/lifestyles. The problem is many South American kids now idolise their luxurious lifestyle of model girlfriends/wives, supercars etc. as pointed out in an earlier article. I hope this doesn't mean we won't see the likes of Ronadinho and Ronaldo again.

    Personally I liked Ronaldo more, he achieved more at such a young age, I grew up watching him. But with the injuries, partying, weight gain the guy just lost it. In his prime, everytime he got the ball you just anticipated that some magic was going to happen. It's just a real shame that players with such talent lose their head and put it to waste.

  • Comment number 42.

    #35

    Ronaldinho's individual performances made the difference on numerous occasions for Barca I agree, even if they didn't win the match (CL quarter final second leg vs Chelsea for example) and signing him (after they lost out to Real for Beckham's signature) was the spark that turned them into on of, if not the most formidable club sides in the world. But for me he never carried that team, not that he was required to, they had Deco at his best, Eto'o was an animal at the time too, Messi (albeit not the virtuoso he is today but you could see he was special), Marquez, Puyol, Van Bronckhorst & van Bommel (though not flair players all world class at the time and the last three featured in the 2010 WC final). When I think of Laudrup not only do I think of an brilliant individual but also how good players like Zamerano & Romaria were when they played with him (Zamerano in particular was never as good without him in the team), similarly Zidane with France (they won the World Cup with Dugarry and Guivarche up front!). Ronaldinho didn't elavate his club (one packed with world class talent mind you) but more importantly his country in a similar way, and the shame is that I think he could have. Going into the 2006 finals everyone knew that Ronaldo wasn't 100% fit (not even 80%), Adriano was good but no Rivaldo, but the feeling was that Ronaldinho was in sensational form for Barca that season that he could make up for it. Sure he won a World Cup but played third fiddle to Ronaldo & Rivaldo who were both on top form in that tournament, when the onus fell on him that's where I think he cracked.

    I agree with others here, to say he wasted his career is a bit harsh but compared to what he could have achieved given that his best years seemed ahead of him in 2006 he fell short.

  • Comment number 43.

    A talent that most certainly hasnt been wasted..........He can safely retire and look at his own personal medal collection and be happy im sure.

    Could he have been successful for longer..........yeah probably and after leaving Barca it was always going to be hard, especailly as Barca have the types of players and play the style of football to let Ronaldinho flourish and show his ability.

    Im a huge fan of Ronaldinho and I think the reason why he went to Milan was to play at the top level for a while longer and with the squad they have I think they could win something (not the champions league in my opinion)

    the standing ovation he received at the Bernebau and the overhead kick he scored against villareal (i think) i beleive will live in my memory for a long time.

  • Comment number 44.

    Personally I liked Ronaldo more, he achieved more at such a young age, I grew up watching him. But with the injuries, partying, weight gain the guy just lost it. In his prime, everytime he got the ball you just anticipated that some magic was going to happen.

    We all expect them to be robots and have no character just because of their huge incomes. I bet both Ronaldo and Ronaldinho will be delighted with what they have achieved in the game, especially showing their footballing skills and not just honours.

  • Comment number 45.

    I once saw a photograph of Ronaldinho with his elder brother, sister and mother, all of whom were rather large, to put it politely.

    For all his amazing speed and strength, Ronnie is clearly someone who has had to work very hard on the physical aspect of his game, and as soon as he - for whatever reason - became lax in this respect, he lost the edge that made him unplayable at his peak.

    With time, he's managed to reinvent himself quite well: his vision and ball skills remain outstanding, and he could certainly do a job for Brazil in an old-fashioned playmaker role: personally, I'd like to see him just behind Alex Pato, with Coutinho and Marcelo on either flank.

  • Comment number 46.

    I was born in Porto Alegre, Ronaldinho's home town. I know him personally, having met and played (for fun) with him a couple of times when he was still a youngster at Gremio (he was 15 then). I also personally know his brother, (Roberto) Assis, who was also a very technical player for Gremio and now is Ronaldinho's manager.

    I've followed Ronaldinho's career closely, since he started at Gremio, the team I support in Porto Alegre. He was a fantastic player at Gremio with incredible pace and the exquisite technique we still see today. However, he has always lacked (and terribly so) on the mental aspect of the game. So much so, that he is incapable of the most basic teamwork, which also makes him a terrible leader.

    Nowadays, I don't really enjoy watching him play; his final 2 seasons at barca were already an obvious physical decline, in mobility and pace.

    To me he is overrated and has always been overrated. His technique and creativity are unquestionable. However, people tend to overvalue technique above all other aspects of the game, which are especially important at the highest stage. Contrary to what Maradona and Pele did, Ronaldinho vanishes in tough games, especially the WC.

    IMO, in his current/recent form, he has no place in the Brazilian team, not even as a sub. Ganso and Hernanes are and have been far better for quite some time. Those two should have made to the WC, along with Pato, Neymar, and Sandro. They might have been able to give Dunga's side the technical edge they so much needed.

  • Comment number 47.

    Great blog Tim. Have to agree with everyone who can see what an excellent career Ronaldinho has had - it has been anything but a waste.

    How many players can we honestly say have been at the top of their game for their entire careers? People mention players like Zidane, but remember that he came to be classed as great following the 1998 World Cup. He was a good player before then (as you would have to regard Ronaldinho as a good player now) - the difference is simply that Zidane went from good to great, whilst Ronnie has gone from great to good.

    I'll always remember him as one of the few players who literally brings the crowd to their feet everytime he's in possesion - and to me that is the mark of a footballer who will always be regarded as one of the very best.

  • Comment number 48.

    Thanks again, Tim, for allowing me to feel less guilty about staring at my computer screen all day.

    I've got to say, Ronaldinho, although very combustible, still has a chance to become a really good playmaker-type player for the national side. On a similar note, it's interesting to see how some players move away from the wing with age, and still go on to enjoy success: Ryan Giggs has become a much more central-based player for United; Pavel Nedved stuck to wings a lot less, too, in his twilight years. There's no reason why Ronaldinho can't do the same and benefit massively from it.

    You can come up with all the systems and tactics to get the best out of players, but sometimes you just have to accept that the best way to get a player playing to his best, is to give him total freedom on the pitch. I don't think you can really refute that Ronaldinho falls into this category.

  • Comment number 49.

    Great post this week Tim.

    Just a quick question on Menezes' 4-2-3-1 system, where do you think Inter's Giuliano would fit in there? Judging by the promise he has shown in the last few years I'd be very surprised if he wasn't involved in the Seleção when 2014 comes around.

    Also quick one on Paulo Henrique Ganso, do you see his injury being a significant threat to his development? In my opinion the injury couldn't have came at a worse time for him, he was going from strength to strength for Santos and looking very comfortable in Menezes' midfield.

    Also I'm moving to São Paulo this year, so if you are ever in SP and see a 20 year old Scotsman with a Palmeiras shirt wandering around the Pacaembu, I'd appreciate a hello!

    http://ilikefootballme.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 50.

    #46 - your claim to fame, eh?

    I see your point about his apparent lack of mental attributes (on the pitch), but do you think, maybe, this is something to do with motivation? I've seen the same with a certain Nicolas Anelka, who, for years, looked disinterested, unhappy and, at times, bored. Now, however, he's got the right people around him who have been able to motivate him, and made him much more of a team player. Would you say the same could happen - or is already happening - for Ronaldinho IF he can get people around him who can drive him on to revitalise.

  • Comment number 51.

    All in all a pretty fair assessment, imo, Tim.
    I will always be grateful to Ronaldinho for injecting so much joy into a sport that was in danger of becoming stale. It flowed from the joy he evidently felt when playing the game, and it has been sad to see him lose that.

    What caused this is a matter of speculation, for me at least - others with insights into his life will have a better idea - but the 2006 World Cup may have been pivotal. Brazil camp was notorious for a lack of discipline and seriousness (which was why Dunca was given the dour brief that he has been unfairly critcised for introducing), but could that have anything to do with the rumours circulating at the time that Brazil would "not be allowed" by the "powers that be" to win that WC?

    While I believe that the level of wages paid to professional sportsmen the world over has become obscene, in relation to the remuneration of the average people who make so much more important contributions to keeping the world functioning (we seem to have regressed to the Roman 'bread and circus' philosophy, while returns seem to be in inverse proportion to the importance of the job done: parenting - free; education - poor; health care - poor; cleaning and waste collection - poor...), I think it only fair to point out - to those who seem to think it's just one long party - that they too have their challenges. Top of the list must be injury, which can be career threatening even if they continue playing, due to reduced effectiveness. And the pressure to perform is intense, and heightened by media manipulation and opponents' determination to stop you. I still think the rewards have now got out of all proportion, though.

  • Comment number 52.

    Tim - great blog on Ronaldinho and good to see him getting a shot at international level once again. He may have took his foot off the gas but what a player - a real pleasure to watch.

    I have noticed myself that Rafael Da Silva is now getting into the Brazil squad and saw him namechecked above. What is the consensus about the player in his homeland? For me he's starting to look comfortable defensively at the highest level in a fast physical league and if he stays injury free should have a good future.

    Also we always heard in Manchester before they arrived that Fabio was the more talented of the two brothers yet from the off it seems Sir Alex Ferguson has identified Rafael for fast-tracking to the first team whilst Fabio has struggled to even claim a place as next reserve behind Evra on the opposing flank. Do the people in the know back home still expect him to make it at the highest level? I've always been impressed by him but he doesn't seem to get many chances.

  • Comment number 53.

    I must not have been watching this years WC closely enough as i thought Holland beat Uruguay in the semis, not Brazil, like you claim at the start of your blog.

  • Comment number 54.

    Interesting as always Tim, this blog makes Monday that bit easier.
    Only 30 eh, I had him down for a 33/34 - perhaps he can come again at the highest level. A player of immense talent, Ronaldinho seems equally capable of changing big matches and yet, increasingly in recent years, going almost unnoticed in games. Could he be a success here in the EPL? I doubt it but that probably says more about the 'fast and furious' approach here rather than his undoubted skills.
    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 55.

    @ 49: this is a major question mark, regarding Ganso. Especially as his recovery has been marked by media speculation over disputes with Santos over publicity rights. His footballing brain is first rate and he's remarkably mature for his age. But there will inevitably be questions in his own mind about his effectiveness once he's recovered, as well as the fear that it might happen again.
    Good luck with the move to SP!

    PS: sorry about the typos in 51 above.

  • Comment number 56.

    #53 - you also weren't paying close enough attention in your English classes back at school, apparently.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 55: I agree, there is no doubt that Ganso gives the impression of a true professional, and I'm sure he will make sure that he is fully rehabilitated before returning to first team football.

    I do worry for him though, a cruciate ligament injury this young could potentially give him knee problems for the rest of his career, I sincerely hope in ten years time we are talking about him as a world-class midfielder, and not as a sad story of a promising career ruined by injury.

    Força Ganso!

    http://ilikefootballme.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 58.

    " Utter Garbage. Did you never see the great Batigol celebrate one of his goals? The great man was passion personified. Without a doubt he should have won more recognition as he was the Worlds greatest striker for a 5-10 year period, the fact that he remained loyal to Fiorentina for so long (not moving for big money offers) meant that he did not win the trophies or recognition that he deserved. When he did eventually leave Fiorentina he won the Scudetto with Roma in his first season. After that unfortunately injuries caught up with him, (before that he had been remarkably injury free).

    To suggest that he was only motivated by money is ridiculous. To be Serie A top striker for so long at a time when it was the best league in the World requires unbelievable ability and effort."

    --------------------------------------------------------

    I think you misunderstood my original post. I am a massive fan of Batistuta. Could you show me where I cast doubt on either his "ability" or "effort", for example? For me, he was the best goalscorer of his generation, and one of the most complete centre-forwards ever.

    In fact the point I was trying to make was that he wasn't a huge football fan (which if you think about is an even greater testimony to his unbelievable natural ability and the effort he put into his career). He took up the game relatively late (mid teens I believe) and since retiring (according to Wikipedia - not the best source, but the quickest to find) has no links to football, preferring golf & polo.

    I never said he was motivated solely by money - he wouldn't have stuck with Fiorentina for so long if that was the case, especially in Serie B. What I said was that he wasn't a football fanatic, who regarded his job as exactly that - a job. That's not to say he wasn't good at it, and/or didn't try hard, its just to say that it wasn't a passion for him in the way it is for many others.

  • Comment number 59.

    #50 well, only if people would actually believe my "claim." :)

    First a disclaimer, when we talk about Ronaldinho I assume we are discussing a player who had the potential to be a legend, which I actually question because a strong character were evident in all all-time greats. He fell way short of that IMO.

    Honestly, Anelka is a hard worker compared to Ronaldinho. :) Seriously, while Anelka can detach himself from the game on occasion, Ronaldinho never really belongs in the team. The team he plays for always have to adapt to his shortcomings, which is usually a very high price to pay, especially at the highest stage.
    I see Milan struggling against top sides for as long as Ronaldinho starts. This can be even more difficult to manage in the Brazil team because of other creative players that may need to start, hence why "the magic quartet" did not and cannot work.

    Rumor has it that he's not very courageous on the pitch; that he always thinks of preserving himself first and foremost. The very few cards he has picked up over his long career came from raised foot tackles in 50/50 challenges (witnessed a few myself).

    There must be something wrong with him. Despite all his technical prowess, his top international moment was a fluke goal against England in the 02 WC.

  • Comment number 60.

    I stick to my point. Barelona weren't doing too well before Ronaldinho was signed and the rest is history.

  • Comment number 61.

    i think the problem started for him with regards to form for barca/brazil in the sense that for barca he was playing in a free role of sense but for brazil it wasnt that case. (putting it simply).


    In comparison of the teams if you look at the barca team of his era, minus ronaldinho and compare with the current team, minus messi. I would prefer the current team.

    Iniesta over Deco, Mascherano over Marquez, villa for etoo. et al. i can see alves and pique perhaps making it.

  • Comment number 62.

    #35 onaldinho's individual performances made the difference on numerous occasions for Barca I agree, even if they didn't win the match (CL quarter final second leg vs Chelsea for example) and signing him (after they lost out to Real for Beckham's signature) was the spark that turned them into on of, if not the most formidable club sides in the world. But for me he never carried that team, not that he was required to, they had Deco at his best, Eto'o was an animal at the time too,
    =====================================================
    Eto'o and deco were on their best form but come on lets admit it ronaldinho was the by far the best player in that side, he overshun the likes of xavi, messi and even kept iniesta out of that team, now thats saying something if ronaldinho had kept up his form for at least few more years im telling you now the likes of xavi,messi and iniesta wouldnt get the credit they do 2dai, but its probably good that the likes of ronaldiho,deco and eto'o all left it branched another generation of barca talent to takeover.

    ==============================

    oing into the 2006 finals everyone knew that Ronaldo wasn't 100% fit (not even 80%), Adriano was good but no Rivaldo, but the feeling was that Ronaldinho was in sensational form for Barca that season that he could make up for it. Sure he won a World Cup but played third fiddle to Ronaldo & Rivaldo who were both on top form in that tournament, when the onus fell on him that's where I think he cracked.

    ============================
    A bit harsh of an analysis i have to say. ronaldinho was coming from a fatigue season he had just help his team win la liga and champions league playing all the mayority of the games, the barcelona team were on the decline at this point ill have to say, change was needed to happen sometime or another i dont know why barcelona didnt get rid of riijkaard or invest some more money, yea they got henry a season later but that seriously didnt help at all, at this point they were waiting for the next breed of stars to come up.

    Ronaldinho ? good looked cause of rivaldo and ronaldo, i dont think so ronaldinho did have a decent season with paris saint german and was an up and coming prospect into the side


  • Comment number 63.

    #62 I agree, Ronaldinho was the star of the show for 5yrs in a Barca team that was packed with talent, that isn't the same thing as saying he carried them though. That Barca team, along with the early 90s AC Milan team, the 1995 Ajax team and the 1994 & 2009 Barca team had the deepest array of talent I'd seen in any club squad during my lifetime, even so each team had its star player (Van Basten, Litmanen, Ronaldinho, Romario & Messi respectively) but that isn't to say that they were the talisman, Milan had Baresi, Rikjard to name couple, Ajax had the De Boers, Blind, Overmars etc, 1994 Barca had Laudrup, Koeman, Stoichkov, Bakero and we all know the strength and depth of the current Barca squad. If anything I think Ronaldinho more so than the others mentioned above loved to be the star attraction without shouldering the responsibility of being the embodiment of the team on the pitch (ala Roy Keane during his peak at Man Utd).

    On the 2002 WC, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Rivaldo & Ronaldo made him look good, he had far too much talent to hang onto the tailcoats over even those two players, I'm just saying that going into that world cup he wasn't seen as the main source of creativity/goals in that team and they didn't pin their hopes on him anywhere near as much as in 2006. Ronaldinho was an amazing garnish to a team, if he was sure that his team would perform well he'd play with this wonderful joie de vivre that lit up the place, but when caught in the trenches, like against France in the 2006 quarter finals he didn't rise to the occasion when his team was looking to him. Take for instance the 2002 quarters, Brazil down 1-0 to England, he played well up until getting (harshly) sent off but on that day he wasn't under pressure to be the man to drag Brazil to victory.

    And to #59, I have no way of proving it but I'm convinced he meant that goal, I remember him running up to take it and I actually shouted 'Jesus he's seen Seamen off his line' just before he struck the ball.

  • Comment number 64.

    Just reading through some of my posts I realize that I'm being a bit long winded here, so to summerize I'll put it like this: for me, at Barca Ronaldinho was often the difference between victory and a draw, but not the difference between victory and defeat.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think...

    Really we should just appreciate what a great he was and moments of greatness he still shows.

    In all things considered, yeah he maybe could have achieved more but then again he achieved ALOT.

    Think of another Brazillian a few years older called Denilson...he was just behind Ronaldo in 1998 then seemed to disappear. So in relative terms he has had a good career so far and it's not over yet.

    Btw Tim what ever happened to Denilson?? the one born 1977 not the diving Arsenal one! lol

  • Comment number 66.

    *player...forgot to add that word above.

    Oh and as an afterthought I think if it was easy to be a GREAT player and STAY there at the top of your game for over 10 years....THEN everyone would be doing it.

    He DID enough for me to call him a GREAT player.

  • Comment number 67.

    Everyone's gone home and I'm working late!!!! Booooooooooooooooooo

  • Comment number 68.

    no reaction on being re-called to the selecao from ronaldinho gaucho then? i think he feels that his inclusion has come too late. what will be the motivation for this once-genius footballer if he himself does not think his body will last to 2014 copa? i think mano is just giving gaucho a mark of respect. then again as Tim said, zidane was able to boss the world cup in 2006 that late in age so if ronaldinho gets himself fit for his age (like giggsy), then he could well dictate the match from a central position. he certainly has unquestionable talent to do so.

  • Comment number 69.

    kaka would be the best back up to ganso imo. or maybe get coutinho to play more central (i know he operates alongside sneijder at inter right now, but i think he's a natural playmaker through the center). a three of robinho, ganso and kaka would be too good to be true! get well soon goose.

  • Comment number 70.

    robguima...I could not help but to conclude after your second post at 59 that you probably have something against Ronaldinho.....this is a guy who together with M. Laudraup, Zidane, Ronaldo and Messi could pass as the greatest footballers the last decade has seen. You have every right not to like a player but please don't insult our inteligence by selling cock and bull stories like "Rumor has it that he's not very courageous on the pitch; that he always thinks of preserving himself first and foremost. The very few cards he has picked up over his long career came from raised foot tackles in 50/50 challenges (witnessed a few myself)." Come on you could do better than that!

  • Comment number 71.

    "There must be something wrong with him. Despite all his technical prowess, his top international moment was a fluke goal against England in the 02 WC."

    Really?

  • Comment number 72.

    After all is said and done on this blog, Ronaldihno was undoubtably the most gifted/skillfull player to ever grace the football pitch. You can mention all the Zidanes and Pele's of this world but they could never do things with a ball on their feet like Ronaldinho the maestro could.
    It is sad and disturbing to here some people(English fans of course) here talk about Ronaldihno being overrated.
    Greatness has to be appreciated for what it is, i rest my case.

  • Comment number 73.

    Sorry, but I think far too much is being read into Ronaldinho's decline.

    He was the best in the world. Had it all. Believed his own hype, surrounded himself with his sychophantic entourage & got into the parties and the "lifestyle".

    He's blown it all through his own stupidity, and he's never getting it back. End of.

    2014?! Don't make me laugh. If Brasil don't have better players than him in 3 and a half years time i'll run naked through Oxford Street at rush hour! I'll be surprised if he's even still playing in 2014!

    Move on. There must be more exciting things in Brasilian football to talk about than an over-the-hill hasbeen?!

    Whilst we're on the subject can we forget about Dunga's Brasil too? You wrote a huge piece Tim before the World Cup about how they were obvious favourites (even though they weren't) and how Dunga's tactics suited the players and were the best thing since sliced bread!

    The man won everything there was to win except the World Cup and went on a huge unbeaten run during the South-American qualifiers that you're so fond of telling us are notoriously tough. He lost only a handful of games during his entire tenure & was statistically a huge success.

    They lost in the World Cup & ever since it's "Halfwit Dunga" and his backwards tactics that were terrible for Brasilian football! Ridiculous. You can't back him before & then slate him after on the back of one poor game & result! Either you were wrong about Dunga before, or actually he did a decent job but failed to win the biggest prize. You can't have it both ways though!

    Can I request the next blog is based on Brasil's future stars & who we can expect to be the Ronaldo's & Rivaldo's come 2014, rather than an overweight hasbeen most people stopped taking seriously 3 years ago?!

  • Comment number 74.

    wow, a comments page free of venomous bile!! Hurrah...

    Cant not add my two cents re Ronaldinho. Should we be wistful that he may be remembered more for his talent than achievements? I'm not sure, i dont think he feels sorry for himself, not sure we should either. He spread alot of joy over a few years, and the frustration that followed doesn't erase the good memories for me.

    Up there with the most talented Brazilian footballers of the last 20 years, Ronaldo, Romario and Rivaldo, and rightly so. Each had their particular merits, and as great as Messi is now, is he really better than Ronaldinho was? (at their respective peaks??)

  • Comment number 75.

    73 - bob old son, your desire to be a controversialist has carried you a bit too far this time.

    first, you have maliciously misrepresented my position on the dunga team. again and again i stressed that, for what it was worth, it wasn't my type of football. and the more i criticized them, the more games they won!

    i seek to criticize - but as fairly as possible. dunga didn't pick his team to please me - though, once again, it wasn't my type of football it was well done - i agree 100% with mano menezes when he says that the virtue of the dunga side was that in the vast majority of cases they had a clear tactical idea of how to win the game.

    the lack of plan b was always a problem - again, something i drew attention to - and the emotional collapse of the team was hard to predict - easier to envisage in hindsight, but what isn't? on balance, i'm glad it happened - it's been a factor in brazil reverting to a more expansive type of game, which i favour.

    hope that isn't too subtle for you.

    on your other point, what could be more interesting than someone of such incredible talent as ronaldinho - who appears to throw it away and, if there is no sustained comeback, might be judged as a (your word) has-been from the age of 26?

    what could be more fascinating, perhaps depressing, in the realm of human affairs than someone who has it all and doesn't seem to want it anymore. what kind of person is this? what motivation could there be? Professional sport always brings us into contact with our own mortality - a footballer, as they say, dies twice. why would someone so gifted choose to bring forward that first death? much richer material than young prospects.

  • Comment number 76.

    did brazil make the semi final? i think not...

  • Comment number 77.

    76 - did you bother to read the comments - esp. 6 and 38? I think not...

  • Comment number 78.

    I had been scratching my head for some years now trying to discern what exactly is the problem with Ronaldinho's game. Week after week I watch Milan and look for Ronny to do something marvelous. He still threads marvelous passes through the defense but... what was missing?
    Finally I remembered youtube. I watched and watched the highlights from years past. It was so obvious. Before he relished in taking charge of the ball and embarrassing opponents with his skill. The pitch was his playground and all the other players were younger classmates.
    Now, given the ball with room to move, he passes off, unwilling to try his skill, preferring not to show his diminishing abilities. He makes a brief attempt, then when stripped of the ball, looks immediately to the referee for an imagined foul. He is now playing the role of the diminishing supernova. His brillance fading fast.
    It is such a shame that he lacked the ability to realize his full potential.
    Do yourself a favor Ronny, spend an evening watching yourself on youtube. Remember how you were. Maybe there is a last spark remaining for those of us who so enjoyed your talent.

  • Comment number 79.

    Ronaldo was best player of the 1990s ,Ronaldinho was best player of the 2000s,Pele was best player ever.And for me,three best players ever were Ronaldo in 1994-1998,Dinho in 2002-2006 and Pele in 1958-1962.Many people belief in Zidane since 2006 world cup,But Zidane's football skills was not close to these players (like Figo,Ronaldinho,Baggio,Ronaldo fenomeno,Zico ,Maradona,Platini,Pele,Rivaldo or others)
    Zidane helped France to beat Brazil in 1998 world cup,but he just scored 2 headball,these 2 goals looks very easily and not beautiful,and Ronaldo was FIFA best player of 98 WC,Zidane was 6thand even not best France Player.France beat Brazil in 2006 was inevitable,even though France hasn't beat Brazil,other teams still could beat Brazil in 06 WC,beacuse Ronaldo never close to his best times since 1999,Ronaldinho as best player at that moment,mainstream media put too much pressure on him,and Adriano always think "Adriano was best player in the world",Kaka always think "No one better than me" So i never seen Ronaldinho come to an agreement with Kaka and Adriano in the 2006 WC.Maybe Adriano,kaka,Ronaldinho all were best players,but their team was not a good team.

    Will Ronaldo manage a hat trick?---Said by FIFA in 1998
    http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/awards/gala/news/newsid=71347.html
    Figo is for me simply the best player in the world at the moment, far away from Rivaldo and any other player----Said by Leboeuf in 2000
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/4753781/Figo-better-than-Zidane-says-Leboeuf.html
    But Who was wrong?FIFA was wrong,Leboeuf was wrong,Zidane won the anything,why?just because many people belief in Zidane ?

  • Comment number 80.

    responding to sandeep (74) I would argue that had Ronaldinho not lost his direction (futbol speaking) he may have been the best Brazilian ever. A shame for all of us that he was not able to realize his potential. I hope one day he does not look back with regret as Mickey Mantle of baseball so often did.

  • Comment number 81.

    @73 - I actually couldn't believe what was written.

    It's one thing to come on the BBC and criticise Phil McNulty's blogs (often unfairly in my view) but another to come on and write complete nonsense about the most interesting and informative blog the BBC does.

    I have read Tim's blogs for as long as I can remember, and it is head and shoulders above the rest of them, as the majority of people who read it agree.

    The one thing that clearly stands out in the past about Tim's blogs on Dunga's Brazil was that he made it clear that he did not like the tactics, style, and whole approach to the game under Dunga, as he felt it was very unlike Brazil's history and tradition. He did however admit, although not his preferred approach, that it was effective and had brought relative success, if not overwhelming joy, to Brazilians. Never once was Dunga's Brazil 'the best thing since sliced bread'. In fact I think Tim's dislike of Brazil's style under Dunga is/was one of the most prominent thing about his blogs. I guess some people just like to complain (meaning 73, not Tim).

    As for Ronaldinho, the mind is a complex issue and every character, in all walks of life, has their flaws. Unless you have been in their particular situation, it's very easy to judge them, but very difficult to accurately judge them. The biggest celebrities Worldwide are movie stars, pop stars, and sports stars. How many of the first two go off the rails? The difference being, they don't have the same physical demands placed on them when they want to get back on track. It's easy to say how he should have behaved but, as history tells us, with money and stardom, comes expectation and pressure. Some personalities simply can't continually deal with this and, unless we're ever placed in that situation, we will never know if we could.

    Ronaldinho has had an exceptional playing career which, without doubt, has tailed off in recent years, but let's hope he can rediscover some of his magic. If not, let's remember the exceptional years he did have as a truly great footballer.

  • Comment number 82.

    Tim, as usual a nice article!!!
    Tim, every time u write someting about Dinho, u say Dunga gave him enough chance. Personally i don't agree with this! Dinho got the chance when he was totally out of shape, and even when Brazil were not doing good(even in Dunga's way). For me Dunga was exposing Dinho so that he could do what he wanted and decided to do as soon as he assigned as the coach.
    The other thing is...
    I have some problem in taking some of the comments here. For some of u guys, r u comparing Ronaldinho and Zidane at their peaks or their entire career? Zidane at his peak can't match to Dinho's peak at all! Some of u r asking Dinho's mental strength, i can agree with some of logics. But one has to know to change the fortunes of barca(the barca that won nothing for six years, the Barca that surrounded by incredible politics), to fool every world class defender and goalie of the time again and again, to perform and score against all kinds of opponents(unlike C. Ronaldo, Messi and at times Zidane but very much like the real Ronaldo)..., u have to be strong mentally, very much strong. Unfortunately it is easy to talk for us.
    I believe having a coach with strong personality and will to play him more centrally would have been worked for Dinho, but i'm afraid it works out now for many reasons.

    Anyways this guy made the world to love football even more and more than any player in decades.

  • Comment number 83.

    @2 (Going back a way, i know)

    "It always astounds me how professional footballers seem to be so effected by emotional and mental issues...they should just go out and do their job. I know that I wouldn't get away with acting like Ronaldinho, or countless other players, at their worst in my work."
    I know a couple of people have already commented on this, saying that footballers are affected by the extreme amount of media attention. I agree with this wholeheartedly, but would like to add that Ronaldinho was at "the top of his game" - there's really only one way you can go from there. However, I am in no doubt that he could still run rings around you in the park on a sunday morning, Jimbo.
    When these footballers have a slump, it is always blown up by the media magnifying glass, because they play in the most competitive sporting arenas in the world. It's easy to say that "they should just go out and do their job", but if Ronaldinho or Rooney are merely 99% of their usual selves, then they're not going to have nearly the same impact for their respective clubs; its not to say that they've shot it completely.
    I guess that also relates to #73 as well. That's why this story is exciting, and why it could happen for Ron in 2014. He's wasted some of his best years, yes, but he certainly has the ability to make a return.

    Great blog, Tim

  • Comment number 84.

    I love to watch Ronaldinho play. I hope he gets back to the former form of the Ronaldinho I know soon.

  • Comment number 85.

    yaredinho ,you are right,Ronaldinho was best player in last decade,And for me,70s and 80s belong to Zico,90s belong to 90s,last decade belong to Dinho

  • Comment number 86.

    yaredinho ,you are right,Ronaldinho was best player in last decade,And for me,70s and 80s belong to Zico,90s belong to Ronaldo,last decade belong to Dinho

  • Comment number 87.

    @86 "...Ronaldinho was best player in last decade,And for me,70s and 80s belong to Zico,90s belong to Ronaldo,last decade belong to Dinho"

    sorry to rain on your parade mate but your list seems to be missing certain French-Algerian player who happened to be quite successful...not to mention some short stocky Argentinian guy who used to wear the No 10 shirt and who wasn't that bad at all ;)

  • Comment number 88.

    "Resorting to personal attacks - comments like yours make me smile. Of course I would have retired if I had Ronaldinho's wealth, that kinda goes without saying.

    If he has lost his motivation as you suggest, then why doesn't he retire?

    He has had a fantastic career and will go down as one of the best footballers of the past decade. However that is no excuse for wasting a talent such as his.

    You talk about motivation, how about the motivation to become the best that you can be, to better oneself as much as possible, not coast along on past successes."

    I dont think you quite grasp the pressure these guys are under. With massive amounts of cash comes all the stress in the world. Dont perform and youre castigated in the press and by every member of the public. The likelyhood is that he cant retire. Hell have sponsor deals and contracts coming out of his ears that dont end for a few years and if he retires he breaks those contracts and makes a lot of very powerful people very unhappy.

    Its all well and good talking about being the best you can be and wanting to better yourself but when youve been a world superstar, won everything in the game, earnt an astronomical amount of money and been voted the best player in the world twice what more can you actually do that would really mean anything to yourself?

    Its easy for people in menial jobs to bang on about waste but ultimately Ronnie wont have any regrets

  • Comment number 89.

    I think pace is overrated in the British media. You don't need to be a fast runner to be an excellent footballer. Players like Zidane, Maradona, Figo, Raul didn't possess the pace of Owen or eve Christiano at their peak but they were better than those in terms of play and achievements.
    Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Omy5n6nOOo
    The pace Ronaldinho shows there is more than enough to cause damage to any opposition. I like his new role

  • Comment number 90.

    Hi,BladeRunner and other friends,Zidane wear the No 10 shirt ,but his dribbling skills wasn't close to some No 9 or No 7,I never seen his dribble distance over 50m ,and Zico was No 10,but he scored nearly 700 goals in his career,Platini was No 10,he scored nearly 350 goals,Pele was No 10,he scored 1284 goals.Now we can see Ronaldo's dribble distance:
    1 vs 3 dribble distance:60m
    http://img208.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/20/5512142320101102204012041_640.jpg

    1 vs 3 dribble distance:40m http://img163.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/20/551214232010110220262104_640.jpg

    1 vs 3 dribble distance:45m
    http://img208.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/20/5512142320101102202030025_640.jpg

    1 vs 3 dribble distance:40m
    http://img208.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/20/5512142320101102201547068_640.jpg

    1 VS 5
    http://img208.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/20/5512142320101102201150013_640.jpg

    1 vs 4
    http://img208.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/20/5512142320101102200808087_640.jpg

    1 vs 4 dribble distance:50m
    http://img208.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/20/5512142320101102200808087_640.jpg

    1 vs 3 dribble distance:60m
    http://img208.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/19/5512142320101102195710048_640.jpg

    1 vs 3 dribble distance:70m (17 years old Ronaldo)
    http://img208.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/19/551214232010110219510809_640.jpg

    1 vs 5 dribble distance:60m
    http://img163.poco.cn/mypoco/myphoto/20101102/19/5512142320101102193859097_640.jpg

  • Comment number 91.

    @90 I think he also means you are missing a certain other player who could dribble a fair share in his time!

    PS: great blog, great comments, etc, as always, keep it up all!

  • Comment number 92.

    #19 - Bravo, very insightful. Your statment seems so obvious yet few have recognized this.

    Now if I may add my own two cents. It seems that we are always obsessed with "what could have been." I myself have pondered this most of my life in regards to some of my favorites such as Maradona, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, etc. But why do we ask that? They were everything we could have ever hoped for them to be. They achieved everything attainable in this beautiful sport and gave us countless memories of joy watching them play. Wouldn't it be better if we just stopped all the nonsense and celebrated these players for what they were at their peaks? All three were playing at levels so incredibly elevated above everyone else, in their primes, that it actually seems a bit naive of us to expect that any human being could maintain such a high standard consistently for 5 or 10 years in a row, with 40-50 matches a year against the world's best competition. I know that many great players have had long consistent careers such as batistuta, bergkamp, del piero, etc. However, players like ronaldinho at his peak belong to an upper echelon that not even those players could come close to achieving. So here are a few of my memories at ronaldinho.

    I remember feeling utterly guilty about wanting to watch dinho on weekends instead of my beloved real madrid when barca and madrid kick-offs coincided. I remember an unprecedented standing ovation at the bernebeu for an unbelievable performance against his arch rivals madrid. I remember dinho running at players down the center of the park with such pace and control that you could see the fear in the defenders' body language from the telly. Defenders used to back up for yards before just giving up b/c they knew they were helpless and wanted their mamas. Step overs accompanied by head snaps that were so elegant, and yet powerful and full of purpose that they put those of denilson, robinho, and even cristiano ronaldo to shame. The way he shrugged off vicious hacking from competition in ligue 1 and la liga as if they were school boys tucking at his arms and legs for a chance with the ball. And all of the wonderful goals, the cheeky goals that could only come from such a carefree genius. The goal agains chelsea from the top of the box. The diagonal overhead volley off the chest against villareal and many more.

  • Comment number 93.

    #70, and if you read my first post you'd know I personally know him... I have met players who played with him at Gremio. So when I say "rumor has it" it implies it's more than just a guess. Besides, just look at him playing the game!? No tackles, not sliding tackles, stays clear of all challenges especially high balls.

    Obviously I don't rate him as highly as most here do. Your point? I thought that was quite obvious in my posts. I am actually very specific about why I think he is not as good as people make him out to be and results are a big part of that.

    He's got no drive and no determination. He has always only played well against weak sides. He always smiles when playing because he doesn't give a damn, just like his brother before him. His great games against top sides can be counted in one hand. Again, because he is weak mentally hence he cannot lead and has not led Brazil to anything. In fact when asked to do so, he vanished in 2006. 2002 was all Ronaldo #9 (that one a truly great players).

    Please don't compare Ronaldinho with leaders who led their sides to ultimate success at the highest stage. Even tough I am Brazilian I rate Zidane much higher than Ronaldinho, for example. Ronaldinho was only the icing on the cake wherever he played. That was my point early on; supporters don't see determination as a virtue needed by the luminaries, but it is absolutely necessary. It's got to be there in addition to all the other qualities. That's why the Peles and Maradonas were so special; when things got rough and technique alone did not do it, the determination/leadership took over and they still made the difference.

  • Comment number 94.

    Ronaldinho has always been along theses last times, together with Kaká, the best brazilian's players in mid-field. Dunga commited a fault in not to call Ronaldinho to World Cup 2010. But He is turning again and will bring best wishes to us. Thanks.

  • Comment number 95.

    "" At 09:46am on 01 Nov 2010, jimbosami wrote:

    It always astounds me how professional footballers seem to be so effected by emotional and mental issues. Top pros would appear to have everything they need - a great career, gorgeous wives/girlfriends, loads of money and international fame; yet so many seem have the emotional stability of teenagers.

    These guys are getting paid vast amounts of money, they should just go out and do their job. I know that I wouldn't get away with acting like Ronaldinho, or countless other players, at their worst in my work.""

    -Im currently studiying sports pyscology and in particular how a sports person is effected by the daily stresses of life and how that compares to the effects it has on non-sportsmen.

    1stly.. id like to note that all human beings from the man selling the big issue through to bill gates(including footballers) are effected by the environmental conditions that they are in, and the stresses this brings.

    2ndly.. as the enviromental conditions change(i.e, wealth, fame, etc) so do the presures... irrespective of postitive changes to their environmental condition.

    3rdly.. also, human beings more effected by the stresses and presures of daily life are more likely to develop mental and emotional conditions. this means that certain areas of their life can be effected and the work place isnt any different....

    ....not 1 person could say that issues such as a family split or a member of their family being ill wouldnt effect their efficiency in work, well would be a lier.

    ...id also like to note that the comment about footballers not being allowed a youth is definatly a valid point.... any more thoughts on that any1??

    finally, if i could point out to people who disagree with me... remember robert enke??
    ...splitt with his wife after his baby girl died, then commited suicide!!

    ....Robert Enke was married to wife Teresa[2] and had a daughter, Lara, who died (aged 2) on 17 September 2006 due to a heart birth defect (hypoplastic left heart syndrome).

  • Comment number 96.

    @95
    "finally, if i could point out to people who disagree with me... remember robert enke??
    ...splitt with his wife after his baby girl died, then commited suicide!!"

    Not sure I follow you...are you saying Ronaldinho is going to stop nightclubbing and kill himself?

    and by the way...

    "....Robert Enke was married to wife Teresa[2] and had a daughter, Lara, who died (aged 2) on 17 September 2006 due to a heart birth defect (hypoplastic left heart syndrome)."

    Maybe you should acknowledge the source of your information, such as Wiki in this case. It may be helpful to do so, especially considering you're "currently studiying sports pyscology", otherwise it might be considered plagiarism and people won't take your comments seriously.

  • Comment number 97.

    I agree that players do peak at different points in their career but it must be down to mentality solely.

    Factors like stress, surroundings, the press, the manager, team mates, social life and family will all affect a players enjoyment of the game. In many players autobiographies the years they play best have many of the previously mentioned factors involved as positives therefore confirming my theory.

    Wayne Rooney had faded slightly from the press at the start of last season and was relieved of the shadow imposed on him by Ronaldo, so he performed, but after the pressure of a great season told by the press he failed to turn up to the World Cup.

    Players who achieve domination in the modern game will experience this and most often it is those who don't seem to be so prolific that are most consistent over their whole careers. Eg...

    Frank Lampard, Steven Gerard, Henrik Larsson, Xavi, Ryan Giggs, Del Piero, Patrick Vieira...

    All great players but not the flair players that turn them into global superstars like Messi and Ronaldo currently.

  • Comment number 98.

    I thought Ronnie was bounced from Barcelona's Squirrel factory because he was a bad influence on Messi?

  • Comment number 99.

    Quotes from Robguima:

    There must be something wrong with him. Despite all his technical prowess, his top international moment was a fluke goal against England in the 02 WC.

    He's got no drive and no determination. He has always only played well against weak sides. He always smiles when playing because he doesn't give a damn

    Please don't compare Ronaldinho with leaders who led their sides to ultimate success at the highest stage. Even though I am Brazilian I rate Zidane much higher than Ronaldinho, for example

    ******************
    My Retort:

    It seems to me that robguima has a real problem with Ronaldinho being considered great.

    I for one think that Ronaldinho was one of the most entertaining players to watch in seasons past. To say that he is shouldn't be considered in the same class as Zidane etc. seems to be sour grapes in my humble opinion. (“I rate Zidane much higher than Ronaldinho”)

    Ronaldinho has won the World Cup, the Champions League, two La Liga titles, the COPA America, and individually the European footballer of the year and FIFA World Player of the Year twice.

    Zidane won the World Cup, the Champions League, one La Liga and one Serie A titles, The European Championship, and individually the European footballer of the year and FIFA World Player of the Year thrice.

    Now it would seem to me that Ronaldinho didn't just get lucky in having a record remarkably similar to Zidane's, but I do admit he has won one less FIFA World Player of the year award.

    So all in all Ronaldinho has pretty much done it all, and he still has some time left up his sleeve to achieve more. Whether he does or not remains to be seen

    After I leave this blog I am certain that I will forget the name robguima, but I will for the rest of my life remember watching (on TV) Ronaldinho score a brilliant hatrick for Barca at the Santiago Bernabéu to a standing ovation from Madrid fans(Zidane never did that at the Nou Camp). And I didn’t / don’t even like Barca.

    I don't mean to slate you robguima, but seriously, this guy will not be out of place beside Zidane, Maradona and the too many to mention Brazilian greats of the past when he hangs up his boots.

    Whether he gives a damn or not, he has been a magnificent football player for a good many years, however intermittent, or uncommited or selfish.

    I bet many kids in their teens now were playing football in the park a couple of years back saying "I'm Ronaldinho". Not many players get that, and that is an award in itself.

    Age will naturally catch up with a player and slow them down, it just depends on whether he has the hunger to finish it all off with a bang.

    I hope that he is in the Brazil squad for 2014.

    As the saying goes, you should never write off a champion.

    I certainly won't.

  • Comment number 100.

    #93, what r u talking about? Ronaldinho shines against weak opponents? Have u ever seen him playing? Do u need me to remember u the goals he scored and his performance against Chelsea, Ac milan, Real madrid...again and again. Give me a break!!! What about the games against Marseille and lyon in french league(here i am mentioning only the strongest teams)...OMG... what r u talking about... r u telling us Nesta, Maldini, Tery, Carvalho, Ramos, Cech, Dida, Casillas, A. Cole...are weak opponents or what??? Or r/were there more teams and players stronger than these??? Please if i am wrong correct me, i'm happy to be wrong!!!
    No determination??? How on Earth a player can reach that level with out determination and commitment??? His talent, determination and commitment to be the best made him the best, though he failed to keep that for longer time. I do not need to know him or his brother to understand this. I should agrre with Rafael Benitez, some people do not see a priest in a mountain of sugar!!!
    Do u believe that all the 11 players on a pitch need to tackle or slide? have u ever seen Zidane tackling, Ronaldo(who i love infinitely) sliding? Do u think every top player should be leader(evenif it is a good quality)? What is your point of talk/interest???

    No one performed like ronaldinho of the 2004-06 in the past 20 years.

 

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