Remember this guy? At one point, he was arguably the best soccer player on the planet. Ronaldinho “Gaucho “was one of the biggest names in soccer. Key word being was. Ronaldinho started his career as a teenager for the Brazilian club Gremio before making a move to the French club Paris-Saint Germain. He flourished with the club as he led his side to the 2002-03 Coupe de France finals (losing 1-2 to Auxerre), scoring both goals in the semis over Bordeaux (2-0). He earned his way onto the Brazilian national squad in the 2002 Japan/South Korea World Cup which they won, defeating Germany 2-0 in the finals. In 2003, Ronaldinho left his French side for the giants of Barcelona. This is where he established himself among the best. Ronaldinho won World Player of the Year back to back times in 2004 and 2005, leading Barcelona to a Champions League title in 2005-06. His style of play, “joga bonito”, made soccer more exciting. There were many times in which I would YouTube Ronaldinho and attempt to copy his step-overs. His technique and creativity was something special to see. At the time, there was nobody in soccer who came close to the footwork and ball-control he possessed. He had the total offensive arsenal. The buck-toothed footballer was the guy everyone wanted to see.
What about now? When I think of soccer, I rarely think of Ronaldinho’s name anymore. Some people probably forgot he still even played soccer. What went wrong? The partying, fame, and women slowly affected Ronaldinho‘s career. He even began to miss or be tardy for some of his team meetings due to partying. There were accusations that Ronaldinho was involved in multiple orgies and linked to a sex hotel. Many off-the-field issues began to pile up against him. He began to show disinterest in the game and lacked dedication. He eventually developed a drinking problem which resulted to him becoming out of shape. He hasn’t been able to get back into form and regain the quickness we were used to seeing. He slowly worked his way out of Barcelona and the Brazilian national team.
Where has Ronaldinho been since his departure from Barcelona? Good question. In 2008, Ronaldinho joined AC Milan on a three-year contact. He had a very good first season, but he later found himself on the bench as he had problems with his fitness the following season. He fell in and out of first team rotation and had trouble getting consistent playing time. He has also had problems staying healthy all season. His stint at AC Milan turned out to be a short one as Ronaldinho announced that he will be leaving Milan to return to his old Brazilian club, Gremio this month. Ronaldinho hasn’t been in the same form in years and has clearly lost a step. It is quite amazing how quickly this guy has fallen off the map. The Brazilian is only 30 years old! He clearly paid the toll for his over-partying lifestyle. Gaucho still has hopes of making Brazilian World Cup squad for 2014, but in my opinion, that’s going to be a long shot. Way to cut your soccer career short with your selfish lifestyle. Ronaldinho, you are now our Has Been of the Month.