Interviews

The big interview: Ronaldinho – "I was 48 hours from joining Man United... and then Sandro Rosell called"

Ronaldinho
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I saw he was off his line. About five metres off. I really aimed at the goal, although not exactly where [the ball] went. All I wanted was for Seaman to be desperate and maybe trip on his way back. It was a great goal in my greatest match for Brazil in that World Cup. I gave an assist, scored, was sent off – it was one of the few times I got sent off. Belgium [in the last 16] was difficult too, but beating England was key because it raised confidence. People already knew that could be the World Cup final because most of the favourites were out early.

David Seaman

Intentional or not, Seaman would rather forget this moment

What did Big Phil Scolari say to you when you got sent off against England at the 2002 World Cup? Did you worry you might not get back into the team for the final, or that Brazil might not get there without you?
Bradley Green, Kingston-upon-Thames

He just gave me support, saying it was good to learn. He’s known me since I was a kid at Gremio. He is like a father to me. We can’t talk as much as we like now because of his work, but the love we have for each other is the same. About losing my place, I was never too worried. I just hoped my replacement [Edilson] didn’t score three goals against Turkey in the semi-final! People made me focus 
on the final, so I was as calm as I needed to be. We were very confident after beating England, we wouldn’t let it slip and I knew my place in the team was secure.

The Nike advert where you juggled the ball, banged it back off the crossbar, did some keepy-uppies and hit the bar a couple more times – did you really do that or was there some clever editing involved?
Daniel Tacon, via Facebook

Of course I did that! I do it every weekend on my pitch at home!

What was the party like after winning the 2002 World Cup? In the past, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo have both said it was a bit raucous...
Tom Field, Bangor

It took me so long to sleep! We partied in the plane, in Brasilia, in Rio and in our home towns again. I went back home with Ronaldo’s father after I arrived in Rio. 
We had a lot of ‘orange juice’ on that trip! If I won the World Cup again, 
I’d party twice as much. It only sinks in that you are a world champion after a few months. It is once in a lifetime for most of us. Roberto parties hard as well, but he is always like that.

Shortly before getting stuck into the 'orange juice'

Shortly before getting stuck into the 'orange juice'

Could you really have joined Manchester United in 2003? Was that the closest you came to playing in England? What about the rumours linking you with Blackburn Rovers in 2011?
‘Gaffer’, via email

It almost happened with United. It was a matter of 48 hours, but Sandro Rosell had told me way before I got the offer: “If I become Barça president, will you come?” I said yes. It was only a matter of details with United when Rosell called to say he was going to win the elections there. And I had promised to him that I’d play for Barça… It was a quick negotiation.

I told the English I had chosen Barça. It was the right choice. Brazilians have always loved Barça. We have a history there. Off the pitch it is like nowhere else in Europe, so we are always happy playing there. I miss Barcelona a lot. I had five fantastic seasons there, at a club that likes strikers and talented players. About Blackburn: we talked to them, but I wanted to come back home to Brazil.

NATIONAL HONOURS

  • Copa America 1999; World Cup 2002; Confederations Cup 2005

Was making Ricardo Carvalho dance for your strike against Chelsea in the 2004/05 Champions League – when you threw a dummy before toe-poking it in – the best goal you ever scored? If not, what was?
Nathan Morton, via Twitter

That was a special goal, but there are many others. Some goals are not about the skills; they are about the moment you’re living. I had important goals in youth teams. If those weren’t scored, maybe I wouldn’t have had such an early opportunity to play 
for Brazil. Thanks to a goal I scored against Venezuela I became a promising player. Scoring for PSG against Marseille wrote me into the history of a European club. At Barça I scored on my debut, in a match that kicked off at midnight...

Not many Barcelona players get an ovation from Real Madrid fans at the Bernabeu, as they did when you scored in 2005. Is that still an immense source of pride for you? What are your memories of that game?
Michael Lowdon, via Facebook

Yes, I am very proud. When it happened, 
I barely noticed what was happening. I just scored and celebrated. As far as I know, only Maradona got that too in Madrid. I was twice as happy to know my hero in football was the last to have that honour at the Bernabeu. I’ve talked to Maradona about that moment and shared notes. It’s a great memory.

How does it feel to destroy an opponent, then have a laugh and a joke with that same player as soon as the game is over? I’ve never seen anyone else do that.
Ronaldo, FourFourTwo guest editor and former Brazil team-mate

I always respected my rivals, Ronnie, because I know that some day we could be playing together. It was funny with a French guy I faced at Milan – he shook my hand a minute after I nutmegged him. That was different! 

What are your memories of the 2006 Champions League Final against Arsenal? Did you feel Barcelona could win it even when you were 1-0 down with 15 minutes to go? How important was Henrik Larsson?
Andrew Taylor, Kingston-upon-Hull