Ronaldinho was the human highlight reel.
There have been better players than Ronaldinho, although not many. But no player – not Messi, not Ronaldo, not Maradona – have as extensive a back catalogue of incredible clips and footage to drool over as the Brazilian.
Ronaldinho is the original YouTube footballer, using his natural talent and trickery to bamboozle opposition players, score ridiculously great goals, and win games single-handedly on occasion.
As such, the Brazilian legend’s influence is incalculable, reaching an audience far beyond what was possible before the founding of the video-sharing website.
Eden Hazard spoke of how he was inspired to play “with a smile and have fun” after spending “hours watching his clips on YouTube.”
These days Barcelona are expected to reach Champions League finals, but before Ronaldinho joined from PSG the trophy held almost mythical status since the club had only attained it once in their history.
That triumph in 2006 was Ronaldinho’s crowning glory, but he was undoubtedly the jewel in a glorious crown that featured a regal class of unreal talent; Samuel Eto’o, Carles Puyol, Henrik Larsson, Deco, Victor Valdes, Xavi. Every last one of them were masters of their craft, yet they looked to one man for inspiration.
Ronaldinho’s peak years sadly didn’t last as long as they should have, and the decline was precipitous once a spate of injuries began to haunt him in the 2007/08 season.
We missed out on many more years of his majestry at the highest level, but we have enough YouTube clips to last a lifetime.
Words by Ste McGovern