The weird and wonderful world of Ronaldinho
Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho will be on Singapore shores this week to launch a football academy with Tampines Rovers and also promote an electronic scooter. Naturally. So ahead of his trip, FourFourTwo compiled some of the more notable incidents from his never-a-dull-moment career…
1. The original YouTube sensation?
YouTube was launched on April 23, 2005 with its first ever video, the 19 second clip of a guy at a zoo in front of two elephants. Scintillating stuff. Among the other early entries was a guy falling off his snowboard, some drunken shenanigans, people queuing at an Apple store and a couple of pandas wrestling at San Diego Zoo. Seriously, what did we do before YouTube?
Anyway, none of those startling moments of web cinematic history were able to achieve what Ronaldinho did, starring in the first YouTube clip to attract one million views. This, in our opinion at least, was more than worthy. As part of a Nike campaign ahead of the 2006 World Cup, the Brazilian dons a new pair of white boots, hand delivered to him in a gold suitcase. He then proceeds to hit the ball repeatedly off the cross bar. Most thought it was doctored, he insists it wasn’t, and we’ve no reason not to believe him.
Either way, history was made.
2. Getting his teeth repaired
Along with his flashy samba moves on the pitch, breathtaking goals and long, tangled locks, Ronaldinho was also widely recognised for his famous buck-teeth. That goofy smile showing lots of gum was part of his charm and appeal.
But he decided enough was enough in September 2013, undergoing an operation to have his teeth corrected. But it wasn’t enough for him to simply undergo the surgery and then unveil his new look.
No, the Brazilian decided to bring a film crew in to document the procedure.
Of course the footage was eaten up, if you excuse the pun, all around the world, with the operation reportedly costing upwards of US$50,000 (S$70,000).
His new grill means some of these terrific caricatures below have now been consigned to the past, although we’ll always remember him for that original smile.
For good measure, Ronaldinho’s exploits also led to him being immortalised in a bobble head doll, an action figure and this outstanding bottle opener. We want one, but it was last seen on eBay for the significant sum of US$1,810.80 back in 2006.
3. That goal vs Chelsea in the Champions League
It is an almost pointless task trying to single out one goal from his extraordinary collection to highlight. There are so many from the hundreds he scored across his career with Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan, among others. But, we decided to do it anyway.
READ ALSO Ronaldinho: How I lobbed David Seaman
Many would have plumped for his deciding goal in the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals, when his long-range effort caught England keeper David Seaman off his line and helped the Brazilians progress and eventually win their fifth world title.
But for a perfect mix of his samba style, audacity and outrageous skill, we couldn’t go past this effort against Chelsea in the first knockout round of the 2005 Champions League.
4. Ronaldinho anoints his heir apparent – a kid called Lionel
Ahead of the 2005-06 season, Ronaldinho’s third in Barcelona colours following his transfer from PSG, the Brazilian was now widely recognised as the best player in the world.
He had just led Barca to a first league title in six years and in that ensuing season they would break a 14-year drought in the Champions League.
But in a cover story with FourFourTwo that was published in January, 2006, Ronaldinho was keen to hose down any talk of him being the best player in the world. In fact, he didn’t think he was the best player on his own team.
During that same season, a teenaged Argentine named Lionel Messi was blossoming into a star. It took him a little while longer to steal the headlines from his Brazilian teammate, but once he did he hasn’t looked back.
5. Coke vs Pepsi
As one of the world’s most recognised athletes, Ronaldinho naturally signed some big endorsement deals, including one with Coca-Cola.
All was going along fine until he left Flamengo and signed for fellow Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro ahead of the 2012 season. Unfortunately for Ronaldinho, Atletico were sponsored by Coke’s biggest rivals, Pepsi.
At a press conference to announce his signing, the club placed two Pepsi cans on his table. Seemingly oblivious to any possible repercussions, Ronaldinho then proceeded to drink from one of the cans.
According to photographs on the internet, this awkward arrangement in fact occurred at least twice.
Coke officials were said to be furious and quickly terminated his US$750,000 deal.
Reports suggest that the Brazilian relations with the company was already strained due to some unsavoury headlines about his lifestyle off the pitch, and this had been the final nail in the coffin.
"The fact that the player has appeared with a can of Pepsi was the straw that broke the camel's back," Coca Cola marketing chief Marcelo Pontes was quoted as telling a Sao Paulo newspaper. "The sponsorship had become embarrassing."
So that’s it. They are just some of the trademark moments in a career that will live long in the memory. We can’t wait to see what he gets up to when he lands in Singapore.
And just for a little bit of bonus footage of the great man, below is a simple yet brilliant moment from his recent appearance in David Beckham’s UNICEF charity game at Old Trafford. He’s still got it…