Will there ever be a more talented player than the maestro that is Ronaldinho?
It has been 20 years since he knocked England out of the World Cup when he lobbed goalkeeper David Seaman and was then also later sent off.
The ‘cheeky little chappie’ was an absolute magician and no-one can question that. Remember what he did to Chelsea in the Champions League? “I’ve never seen a stadium… he paused the stadium, it was unbelievable,” midfielder Joe Cole recalled.
Barcelona still went out and the Brazilian showed his fiery side. “There was a bit of afters, afterwards, which is always nice in the tunnel,” Cole added. He smashed up the fridge. Ronaldinho was smashing up the fridge. I was well away, celebrating – but there was a little melee.”
Ronaldinho left his mark on some of biggest names in the game, and here, talkSPORT looks at what they have all said about him.
Deco played alongside Ronaldinho at Barcelona from 2004 to 2008 and helped the club win the Champions League and two La Liga titles.
“From the outset, it is clear that Leo and Cristiano are the greatest,” he told AS.
“Especially because no one thought they could take so many years to this level, but the one that impressed me most despite not being so decisive was Ronnie.
“For me, he will always be the best.”
When you’re getting plaudits from arguably the greatest player who has ever lived, then you know you must have done something right.
“Ronaldinho was responsible for the change in Barca. It was a bad time and the change that came about with his arrival was amazing,” the Argentinian maestro said.
“In the first year, he didn’t win anything but people fell in love with him.
“Then the trophies started coming and he made all those people happy. Barca should always be grateful for everything he did.”
The legendary striker named his former AC Milan teammate in his dream XI of players he had played with in 2018.
“Ronaldinho was phenomenal. He made his opponents look like children,” he remarked.
Coming from Ibrahimovic that really is something.
Rijkaard and Ronaldinho joined Barcelona at the same time and are said to have clicked straight away.
Interestingly, the latter also named the Dutchman as the the best manager he worked with during his career.
“He is the man that makes the difference between a team that plays well and another that is really memorable,” Rijkaard said.
“Ronaldinho alone can decide one game.”
Another legend of the game, Zidane hailed Ronaldinho’s ‘extraordinary’ talent.
“Ronaldinho is total class – a very, very great player. He is quick, powerful, and has extraordinary technical qualities,” he said.
“He is a dribbler but is also a player who can make the play for his teammates.
“He’s not really a no.10, a true organiser. He’s more a second attacker who can score goals and has the vision to make them.”
Growing up, the Paris Saint-Germain’s idol was Ronaldinho and he had posters of the Brazilian maestro on his bedroom wall.
The pair later played together for the national team, enjoying some memorable moments together.
“No one can compare to Ronaldinho. I remember his plays, his dribbles,” his fellow countryman said.
“I remember him winning every title at the Camp Nou.”
The pair played together at AC Milan, with the Manchester United and England legend insisting that Ronaldinho is in a league of his own.
“No one can compare to Ronaldinho,” he said. “I remember his plays, his dribbles. I remember him winning every title at the Camp Nou.
“He made history at Barca, he made history with Brazil, and he’s still making history.”
Nani admired Ronaldinho from afar, and the former Manchester United playmaker was in no doubt about who the king was in football terms.
“The best player in history? Ronaldinho. Because when he was at his best nobody could compare,” he said.
“He always had a smile on his face as well. He had skill, scored fantastic goals and put magic into the game.”
Eden Hazard has established himself as one of the best players in the modern game now, and says the likes of Ronaldinho taught him what was needed to get to the very top.
“I learned a lot from Ronaldinho and Robinho. Football is a tactical game and you sometimes have to be serious,” the Belgian said.
“But they taught me to always do it with a smile and have fun. I spent hours watching their clips on YouTube.”
A compliment from your rival should always be regarded in the highest order. Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos went toe-to-toe with Ronaldinho many times, and on more than one occasion was embarrassed by the Brazilian’s sheer brilliance.
The Spaniard admitted it was a thankless task trying to prevent him most of the time, commenting: “Ronaldinho was virtually unstoppable at his best, as a forward or a playmaker.”