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SPECIAL FEATURE : RONALDINHO’S RETIREMENT FROM FOOTBALL SENDS COLD SHIVERS INTO OUR SPINES

His retirement has sent cold shivers down the spines of various football enthusiasts in the world. Brazilian talisman Ronaldinho Di Assis Gaucho has officially drawn the curtains down on his football career after over a decade of sensational football on the field of play.

The announcement was made by his brother,Roberto Assis on Tuesday night in Brazil and that various activities have been lined up in Brazil, Europe and Asia to celebrate a career well lived in football.

Appearance in 1997 FIFA U-17  

Ronaldinho is one of few Brazilian players to have played at every international age level. He exhibited his stuff to the world in 1997 when he appeared for Brazil in the FIFA U-17 World Cup held in Egypt, scoring his first goal against Austria in a 7-0 debacle. Brazil won the tournament after beating Ghana 2-1 in the final in which Gaucho featured prominently.

Then playing for Brazilian side Gremio, Ronaldinho finished with two goals and was awarded the Bronze Ball award as Brazil scored a total of 21 goals while only conceding two.

World Cup and Brazil’s success

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The 37 year old player established himself as a world class star in 2002 when he was part of the Brazilian squad that conquered the World in Korea- Japan World Cup. He formed a formidable trio for the Selacao with Rivaldo and Ronaldo da Lima as they tormented various defenses before breaking down Die manschaft of Germany in the final to clinch the ultimate.

Roanldinho’s 30 yards free kick against England in the quarter finals would go on to leave an indelible mark on the minds of football lovers till date. English goal keeper, David Seaman was left speechless when Ronaldinho’s kick came flying over his head into the post.Seven minutes later, however, he was controversially sent-off for a foul on England’s defender Danny Mills. Ronaldinho was suspended for the semi-final, but returned to Brazil’s starting lineup for the 2–0 victory over Germany in the final as Brazil won its record fifth World Cup title.

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After falling short in 1999 and 2003, Ronaldinho was the captain of Brazil and led his team to its second ever Confederations Cup title in 2005. He converted a penalty kick in a 3–2 semi-final win against host Germany and was named Man of the Match in a 4–1 victory over arch-rival Argentina in the final on 29 June. Ronaldinho scored three goals in the tournament and is currently tied with Mexican forward Cuauhtémoc Blanco as the tournament’s all-time scorer with nine goals.

Unfortnately, he and his highly ranked Brazilian team failed to live up to expectations in the 2006 World when they were eliminated at the quarter-finals by Zidane led France. That was the beginning of the end of his glittering national team career.

He scored 33 goals in 97 games for Brazil.

Club Football and Europe

His sensation at club level originated from Gremio where he began his senior team appearance in the 1998 Copa Libatedores. The year 1999 saw the emergence of the 18-year-old Ronaldinho, with 23 goals in 48 matches. Ronaldinho achieved further success with Grêmio, winning the inaugural Copa Sul-Minas.

Europe were called to the attention of such a big talent when Ronaldinho finally signed for French side Paris St Germain in 2001. England’s Arsenal were billed to sign him earlier but lack of work permit thwarted the deal and finally saw him playing in France for PSG. He had great success with PSG, scoring great goals and giving some good entertainment to the PSG fans in Paris.

He then became an established star in the game when he finally signed for FC Barcelona in 2003 after Club President Joan Larpota bought him instead of David Beckham in a €30 million deal.

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He immediately formed a strong bond with African legend, Samuel Eto’o, Deco and Guily which saw a complete revolution in the history of the Catalan club. He led Barcelona to win their second Champions League trophy in 2006 beating Arsenal 2-1 in the final played in Paris. He is also noted to have made the first ever assist for Lionel Messi in 2005 which the Argentine great scoring his first ever goal for Barcelona at senior level. His best ever goal was seen against Chelsea in 2005 when Barcelona 4-2 at Stamford Bridge. He won the FIFA player of the year in 2005.

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Ronaldinho left Barcelona for AC Milan in 2007 and then returned to Brazil to play for Flamengo and Atlético Mineiro. He then left for Querétaro in Mexico before last featuring for Fluminense in Brazil.

In a total of 728 games, Ronaldinho scored 280 goals.

Ghanamansports.com join the rest of the world to salute Ronaldinho who made football so simple, beautiful and joyous to watch.

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