11 times Ronaldinho did something absolutely ridiculous


Happy 39th birthday to the godfather of flair! During his time at the top he tricked and flicked his way to worldwide adulation – and Jack Lang’s picked out the best bits

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1. Making a fool of Dunga (1999)

Growing up, Ronaldinho dreamed of following in his brother's footsteps and playing for Gremio. He achieved it with great distinction too, making his debut as an 18-year-old and swiftly becoming a fan favourite courtesy of his ebullient, entertaining style.

An early-career highlight came in the final of the Rio Grande do Sul state championship against Internacional, Gremio's most bitter rivals. Ronaldinho scored twice in the three-game series and also found time to humiliate Dunga, Brazil's 1994 World-Cup-winning captain, with two outrageous pieces of skill.

"I wanted to do more but he escaped!" he revealed years later. "I had trained those dribbles. They were reserved for him."

2. "Olha o que ele fez!" (1999)

Ronaldinho was called up to the Brazil squad for the 1999 Copa America and was already the talk of the dressing room thanks to his exploits against Inter. The teenager featured in a warm-up friendly against Latvia, but it was Brazil's tournament opener against Venezuela that really served up a moment to remember as Ronaldinho sealed a 5-0 win with a stunning individual goal.

The strike is perhaps best remembered in Brazil for the commentary that accompanied it. Globo stalwart Galvão Bueno (think John Motson but far more keen on the sound of his own voice) got so carried away with Ronnie's genius that he hollered the phrase "Look what he did!" repeatedly into his microphone.

All together now: "Olha o que ele fez! Olha o que ele fez! Olha o que ele fez! Olha o que ele fez!"

3. *That* goal against England (2002)

You've probably read enough about this one to last you a lifetime, but suffice to say, Ronaldinho has always insisted that he meant it. "I don't know how many times I have been asked this, but it's easily over a thousand," he said in 2012. "My response is always the same: I was shooting."

4. Running riot against Guingamp (2003)

This stunning effort at the Stade de Roudourou in Brittany was perhaps the pièce de résistance of Ronaldinho's two-year spell at PSG. It showcased both his explosiveness and his otherworldly balance, leaving a trail of defenders – including a young Didier Drogba, who tried in vain to hack him to the floor – eating dust.

"He was so quick with the ball," former Guingamp midfielder Christophe Le Roux recalled in an interview with France Football last year. "He used every part of his foot to bring the ball forward. When you search for the greatest goals on YouTube, that one is often included. I can tell my children that I was there for it!"