Ronaldinho: I'd have loved to score Dele Alli's goal against Palace

Ronaldinho has told FourFourTwo that he is honoured to be hailed as an influence to a new generation of stars.

A host of the game’s leading youngsters name the former Barcelona and Brazil trickster as their hero while they were growing up, including Paul Pogba, Raheem Sterling, Thiago Alcantara, Gabriel Jesus, Willian, Neymar and Dele Alli.

Tottenham’s 20-year-old talent Alli scored in stunning style at Crystal Palace last season, flicking the ball over Mile Jedinak’s head before lashing it into the net.

And, speaking exclusively in the March 2017 issue of FourFourTwo, Samba icon Ronaldinho admits it was the type of goal he would love to score himself.

I saw Dele Alli’s goal last year and it looked like a goal I would like to score – there is just no explanation for goals like that. It’s thrilling to inspire someone to score such a great goal; I can barely put it into words

“I saw Dele Alli’s goal last year and it looked like a goal I would like to score – there is just no explanation for goals like that,” he says. “It’s thrilling to inspire someone to score such a great goal; I can barely put it into words.

“It’s very emotional for me to inspire world-class players – people like Pogba and Sterling, they are already among the best and it’s great to see them scoring the goals that make people love the sport even more.”

Portraits: Gabo Morales

Ronaldinho also reveals that he ranks Wayne Rooney among his favourite English players, having faced the Three Lions forward in a 2013 friendly at Wembley.

Among the English, I still like Wayne Rooney. He has skill, shoots well and protects the ball. I have always liked his style

England’s all-time top scorer recently achieved the same feat at club level, netting his 250th Manchester United goal at Stoke City to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton’s record.

“Among the English, I still like Wayne Rooney,” Ronaldinho says. “He has skill, shoots well and protects the ball. He is steady – never on the ground. I have always liked his style.”

Read the full interview with Ronaldinho in the March 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. A South American special, we also chat to Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta about learning English while watching Coronation Street, learn that West Bromwich Albion powerhouse Salomon Rondon doesn’t actually like heading, reminisce with former Real Madrid forward Robinho and meet up with Bayern Munich enforcer Arturo Vidal. Plus, we find out why Oscar swapped Chelsea for China, look back on the early days of Diego Maradona’s career at Argentinos Juniors, hear some remarkable tales from football’s own Forrest Gump, aka Nelson Vivas, and find out how Chapecoense go about healing a club and local community following November’s plane tragedy in Colombia. Order it now, and then subscribe here!