11 times Ronaldinho's excellence made us all go weak at the knees
5. Welcome to Barcelona (2003)
They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and Ronaldinho was clearly in no mood to test the theory after swapping PSG for Barcelona. Just four days after his debut for the Blaugrana (a 1-0 away win against Athletic Bilbao, history fans), the buck-toothed bag of tricks laid his cards on the table in sensational fashion against Sevilla.
Due to a dispute over the kick-off time, it was was 1:30am when the Brazilian picked the ball up on the halfway line. But if anyone at the Camp Nou was beginning to nod off, we must assume they perked up pretty swiftly at the sight of Ronnie sashaying past José Luis Martí and Francisco Casquero. The subsequent shot might have beheaded Sevilla goalkeeper Antonio Notario had he managed to get anywhere near it. Quite the way to announce yourself.
6. Osasuna swooner (2004)
Competing for La Liga was not enough for Ronaldinho in his first season in Spain; he was also running his own personal Goal of the Season competition on the side. This inventive effort against Osasuna certainly had plenty going for it, garnering rave reviews. Sport dubbed it "a cinema goal", while Barça boss Frank Rijkaard said it was "beautiful, technically perfect".
7. Taking a punt (2005)
This was an optical illusion of a goal; it took a good few seconds (and a couple of replays) to work out exactly how Ronaldinho had smuggled the ball from the edge of the area into the Chelsea net. Brilliantly, he had done so by recourse to that most base of playground techniques: the toe poke.
It was not a beautiful strike in any traditional sense, but there was huge pleasure to be found in the bloody-minded pragmatism of the thing. As arch Brazilian goal poacher Dadá Maravilha once said: “There’s no such thing as an ugly goal. Ugly is to not score one.”
8. Winning over the Bernabéu (2005)
Sometimes, just sometimes, genius trumps partisanship. So it was on November 19, 2005, when Ronaldinho inspired Barcelona to a commanding victory over Real Madrid.
After scoring twice and generally torturing the home backline throughout, he left the field to warm – and, for Real Madrid's struggling players, pointed – applause from the Madrid fans. "I will never forget this," he admitted after the match.
5:20 for Madrid fans' appreciation