Smile, it’s Ronaldinho

Before there was Portuguese Ronaldo, there was Ronaldinho. The first time I saw him play was in World Cup 2002 against England. He scored this goal.

The first time I saw him play live was in summer 2009 when his AC Milan team played a friendly against Chelsea in Baltimore. He wasn’t the fastest player on the pitch by that time, but he was still the most skillful.

Ronaldinho played with freedom and flair. He had a bag of tricks ready to be deployed at any moment. And he smiled, a lot, feeling fortunate to entertain.

“There was a period in Ronaldinho’s time at Barcelona where he was almost unplayable. Effortless, relaxed, always with a smile on his face, he’s a genius with the ball. I love Brazilian football and he is one of the best ever players from that country.” David Beckham

He scored two goals in a dominating performance against Real Madrid in 1995 and received a standing ovation from the Madrid fans. That never happens, even to Messi, whom Ronaldinho inspired for greatness before leaving for AC Milan.

Ronaldinho got lazy near the end of his career. He wasn’t hungry anymore. But he always enjoyed the game of soccer. And if this most recent India Futsal game is any reminder, it’s that his class is permanent.

Such a good read: Ronaldinho and the eternal journey to joy

Oh, and he could Samba.

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