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Ronaldinho Biography

Early Life
Ronaldinho was born Ronaldo de Assis Moreira on March 21, 1980, in
Porto Alegre, Brazil. His father, Joo Moreira, was a former professional
soccer player who also worked as a welder in a shipyard, and his mother,
Miguelina de Assis, was a cosmetics saleswoman who later became a
nurse. Ronaldinho's older brother, Roberto Assis, was also a professional
soccer player; Ronaldinho was surrounded by soccer from the day he was
born. "I come from a family where soccer has always been very present," he
says. "My uncles, my father and my brother were all players. Living with
that kind of background, I learned a great deal from them. I tried to devote
myself to it more and more with the passage of time." In particular,
Ronaldinho idolized his father. "He was one of the most important people
for me and in my career, even though he died when I was very young," he
says. (Joo Moreira suffered a fatal heart attack when Ronaldinho was 8
years old.) "He gave me some of the best advice I've ever had. Off the field:
'Do the right thing and be an honest, straight-up guy.' And on the field:
'Play soccer as simply as possible.' He always said one of the most
complicated things you can do is to play it simple." Ronaldinho began
playing organized youth soccer at the age of 7, and it was as a youth
soccer player that he first received the nickname "Ronaldinho," the
diminutive form of his birth name, Ronaldo. "They always called me that
when I was little because I was really small," the player explains, "and I
played with players who were older than me. When I got to the senior
national team there was another Ronaldo, so they started calling me
Ronaldinho because I was younger."

Growing up in a relatively poor, hardscrabble neighborhood, Ronaldinho's

youth teams had to make do with makeshift playing fields. "The only grass
on the field was in the corner," Ronaldinho remembers. "There was no
grass in the middle! It was just sand." In addition to soccer, Ronaldinho
also played futsalan offshoot of soccer played indoors on a hard court
surface and with only five players on each side. Ronaldinho's early
experiences with futsal helped shape his unique playing style, marked by
his remarkable touch and close control on the ball. "A lot of the moves I
make originate from futsal," Ronaldinho once said, explaining, "It's played
in a very small space, and the ball control is different in futsal. And to this
day, my ball control is pretty similar to a futsal player's control."
Ronaldinho quickly developed into one of Brazil's most talented youth
soccer players. When he was 13 years old, he once scored a ridiculous 23
goals in a single game. While leading his team to a variety of junior
championships, Ronaldinho immersed himself in Brazil's long and glorious
soccer history, studying past greats such as Pel, Rivelino and Ronaldo,
and dreaming of following in their footsteps. Then, in 1997, a teenaged
Ronaldinho won a call-up to Brazil's Under-17 national team. The squad
won the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Egypt, and Ronaldinho
was selected as the tournament's best player. Soon afterward, Ronaldinho
signed his first professional contract to play for Grmio, one of the most
celebrated teams in the Brazilian league.
Professional Career
Ronaldinho made his senior debut for Grmio in the 1998 Copa
Libertadores tournament. The next year, he was invited to join the senior
Brazilian national team to compete in the Confederations Cup in Mexico.

Brazil turned in a second-place finish, and Ronaldinho won the Golden

Ball Award as the tournament's best player as well as the Golden Boot
Award as its leading goal scorer. Firmly established as a star on the
international stage, in 2001 Ronaldinho left Brazil for Europe, signing a
contract to play for Paris Saint-Germain in France. A year later, he
participated in his first World Cup on a loaded Brazilian squad that also
featured Ronaldo and Rivaldo. Ronaldinho scored two goals in five
matches, including the game-winner in a quarter-final victory over
England, and Brazil went on to defeat Germany in the finals to claim its
fifth World Cup title. In 2003, Ronaldinho fulfilled a lifelong dream by
joining FC Barcelona of the Spanish league, one of the world's most storied
clubs, and winning the legendary No. 10 jersey typically worn by the
squad's greatest creative player. In 2004 and 2005, Ronaldinho won backto-back FIFA World Player of the Year awards, the sport's highest individual
honor. He also led his teammates to the pinnacle of club success in 2006
with a triumphant run through the prestigious Champions League
tournament. The following month, Ronaldinho headlined a very talented
Brazilian squad that entered the World Cup with sky-high expectations.
The tournament ended in disappointment for the defending champs,
though, as France knocked Brazil out with a stunning upset in the
quarter-finals. In 2008, Ronaldinho left Barcelona to join another of the
world's most renowned clubs, A.C. Milan, but his performance for the
Italian Series A giant was mostly nondescript. Underscoring his fading
status, the former World Player of the Year was not included in the 2010
Brazilian team that competed in the World Cup in South Africa.
In 2011, Ronaldinho returned to Brazil to play for Flamengo in Rio de
Janeiro. The relationship between the club and its most prominent player
got off to a great start when Flamengo won the 2011 Campeonato Carioca,

but things turned sour by the following season. Ronaldinho missed several
practices and performed indifferently in games, and eventually had his
contract terminated due to unpaid wages. Ronaldinho signed with Atltico
Mineiro in June 2012, a move that reignited his dynamic playmaking
abilities, and he was given another shot with the national team to make
the 2014 World Cup roster.
Personal Life and Legacy
In 2005, Ronaldinho and Brazilian dancer Janana Mendes had a son,
named Joo, after Ronaldinho's late father. The Brazilian superstar
remains close to his family, with brother Roberto serving as his agent and
sister Deisy acting as his press coordinator.
An absolute wizard with a soccer ball, Ronaldinho is considered by many
to be the greatest player of his generation and one of the best in history. He
says that his soccer career has been an emotional roller coaster filled with
high highs, low lows and a lifetime of unforgettable moments. "For me
soccer provides so many emotions, a different feeling every day,"
Ronaldinho says. "I've had the good fortune to take part in major
competitions like the Olympics, and winning the World Cup was also
unforgettable. We lost in the Olympics and won in the World Cup, and I'll
never forget either feeling."