I was talking recently to an American who got into soccer as a result of watching Ronaldinho at his extraordinary best -- which seems a long time ago. Now he is not sure whether to feel angry with the player for spending so long betraying his own almost unparalleled talent, or grateful that for a few years Ronaldinho hit a peak of performance that few have ever matched.
RIO DE JANEIRO -- I took a wander from my apartment here on Monday and one of the first people I saw was Ronaldinho, sitting enjoying a leisurely beer in a temporary break from the revelries of Carnaval. Seated to his right was another Ronaldinho, doing the same thing. On his left, yet another ...
In Rio Flamengo, fans came out by the thousands to give a euphoric welcome to new signing Ronaldinho. Some pundits have tried to pour water into their beer -- such as former top class referee Jose Roberto Wright, who argued in the sports daily Lance! that Flamengo had made a bad deal.
In a month's time comes the lone FIFA date for international fixtures before the end of the European season -- the only time teams preparing for the World Cup have the opportunity to be at full strength, with all their players available.
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, better known as Ronaldinho, is World Soccer's Player of the Decade. Based on the votes cast by readers in the 10 annual votes between 2000 and '09, the Brazilian -- who was our World Player of the Year in '04 and '05 -- is the outstanding performer of the past 10 years.
Is Ronaldinho finally about to deliver? When the Brazilian ace was formally "presented" to the AC Milan faithful last year, he was greeted at the San Siro like some sort of all-conquering hero, wooed by pulsating samba rhythms, a firework display and a 30,000-strong crowd.
So Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d'Or as European Footballer of the Year (though, in fact, it's a bit of a misnomer: Any professional in the world is now eligible). And, barring an Act of God, he'll win the FIFA World Player Award as well.
My last column on the valuations of Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo seemed to get a lot of people's panties in a twist. I got twice the usual haul of correspondence, some of it articulate, some of it abusive, some of it downright bizarre.
Many years ago, I was taught about the invisible hand and free markets and how, by definition, something was worth whatever someone was willing to pay for it. Of course, I've since learned that it's all a crock of bull. Some markets may work that way, but in fact, most of them don't.
Last week, when I heard the news that Ronaldinho had reportedly rejected a massive offer from to join the Los Angeles Galaxy, I nearly choked on my açaí juice. One thought flashed in my head: The odds Ronaldinho is coming to MLS this year are about as good as the odds that Gisele Bündchen will knock on my front door wearing a 1996 Tampa Bay Mutiny No. 15 jersey -- and nothing else.
Todos los jugadores profesionales, salvo los porteros, marcan un gran gol a lo largo de sus carreras. Los grandes delanteros, si tienen suerte, marcarán un gol que pase a la historia. La diferencia entre Leo Messi y los demás es que tiene toda su carrera por delante, pero ya ha marcado tres en 2007 que perdurarán como obras de arte y serán admirados en los museos del fútbol, como hoy admiramos a Leonardo da Vinci, de aquí a quinientos años.
Qualifying for the World Cup is no cakewalk, even for Brazil. Luiz Felipe Scolari's side struggled to make it to Japan and South Korea in 2002 -- indeed, without a couple of strokes being pulled, Brazil may well have missed out entirely on the competition it ended up winning.
OK kids, let's get this over with -- we're all looking ahead to the loads of international action this weekend. The bell may be tolling for England as far as qualification for Euro 2008, and Spain and the Netherlands face uphill battles.