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Ronaldinho: Milan Move A Dream





Ronaldinho has spoken his first words in Italy as a Milan player, and he has admitted that his transfer to the Rossoneri is a dream come true.


The former European and World Footballer of the Year completed his long drawn-out move to Milan from Barcelona last night in a deal worth around €21m.

The 28-year-old boarded a plane from Barcelona to Milan today, and arrived at Malpensa International Airport at 13:00 CET.

Ronaldinho was greeted by Milan directors Leonardo and Ariedo Braida, with legions of fans repeatedly shouting out “Ronaldinho, Ronaldinho.”

The Brazilian, sporting a hip-hop look with a New York Yankees cap worn the wrong way, saluted his supporters, before offering his first declarations to Milan Channel.

“I am very happy, after a long time I'm here,” said Ronaldinho.

“I'm very happy to have arrived at Milan and I hope to give a lot of joy to everybody.

"It's true, I confirm I really wanted Milan. Many things have happened and in the end I am a Rossonero. I'm happy to be here, and I repeat, I hope to make the Milan crowd happy.

“It's great to find a lot of Brazilians, but also the many champions who wear the Milan shirt. I'm happy about everything, I'm here with other Brazilians like me but also with all the others.”

Ronaldinho then left for Milanello, and upon his arrival at 13:30 he was greeted by hundreds of Milan fans. He shook the hand of Coach Carlo Ancelotti before being offered a tour around his new club.

Profile :

Ronaldinho.jpg Ronaldinho image by rahardi_78


Name: Ronaldinho (Ronaldo de Assís Moreira)
Club: A.C. Milan
D.O.B – March 21st 1980
Height – 1.81 m
Weight – 76 kg
Position – Attacking Midfielder/Second Striker

Background

Of the many thousands of men who have played the game of football there are few who have managed to ignite the imaginations of fans around the world quite as vividly as Ronaldinho.

The exuberant Brazilian has been a joy to watch as he has forged himself a career that has seen him take his trademark smile from his hometown of Porto Alegre, to Paris, then Barcelona, and now to his next destination of Milan.

That Carlo Ancelotti’s A.C. Milan side can look forward to playing host to Ronaldinho for the coming seasons will provide an exciting fillip to the Rossoneri faithful crying out for a star name to add to the plethora of attacking talent already on display at the San Siro, whilst also putting an end to the constant transfer rumours that have followed the two time World Player of the Year recipient since the end of the 2007/08 season.

With this move adding another chapter to the story of ‘El Gaucho,’ it is important to take a look at the background of this footballing phenomenon to understand what the A.C . Milan fans can expect from their latest recruit.

Grêmio


Ronaldo de Assís Moreira was born in the Southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre on the 21st March, 1980.

As the son of former Cruzeiro player João, and with older brother Roberto also showing a gift for the beautiful game, it would seem that it would always be Ronaldinho’s destiny to make his mark on the world of football.

Ronaldo as he was then known, began to show this ability at a very early age, with this leading to his nickname of Ronaldinho (meaning little Ronaldo) as he was often the youngest and smallest player on the football pitch.

As is often the way with Brazilian footballers, El Gaucho honed his skills as a youngster playing beach football and Futsal. It was the close environs of the latter game in particular where the outrageous skills and extraordinary levels of technique that characterises his game were natured, with Ronaldinho first coming to the attention of the Brazilian media at the tender age of thirteen after he scored all of the goals in his side’s 23-0 victory against a local team.

Ronaldinho would soon follow in the footsteps of his older brother in to the Gremio youth teams, with his first appearance for the senior team occurring in the 1998 Libertadores Cup.

The introduction of ‘El Gaucho’ in to the Gremio set up by coach Celso Roth was rewarded by the players penchant for scoring goals, as well as the ability to amaze even the wiliest of Brazilian crowds with the dashes of flair that he possessed.

A particularly noteworthy example of this was when he flicked the ball nonchalantly over the head of ageing 1994 Brazilian World Cup winning captain Dunga, with the current Brazilian national coach chastising Ronaldinho for lacking respect for other players by committing such acts of skill at his expense.

Ronaldinho’s successful introduction in to senior football was capped off in the summer of 1999 when he was called up for the Brazilian squad to take part in that year’s Copa America, with the player making his debut for the Selecao in a pre tournament friendly against Latvia.

In the Copa America itself, Ronaldinho was to play a bit part role in Brazil’s march to the title. However, he was to steal the attention of the football world with a goal of supreme class against Venezuela in the group stages of the competition.

Ronaldinho was to carry this headline stealing form in to the 1999 Confederations Cup, with his exceptional displays seeing him crowned as both the top scorer and the best player of tournament, scoring in every one of Brazil’s games apart from their 4-3 final defeat to Mexico which he had to sit out due to injury.

With tournaments like this showcasing how undeniably talented El Gaucho was, the gaze of all the big European teams swiftly turned to the boy from Porto Alegre. Big hitters such as Inter Milan and Manchester United were strongly linked with him, as well as his brother and now agent Roberto De Assís creating speculative rumours that the then cash rich Leeds United were prepared to pay up to £50m pounds to secure his signature.

However, Ronaldinho was to turn down these overtures to sign for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in the summer of 2001.

Paris Saint-Germain


Ronaldinho was to enjoy mixed fortunes at the Parisian club, with moments of supreme brilliance occurring against the league’s big hitters such as Olympique Marseilles, Olympique Lyonnais, and A.S. Monaco, whilst his commitment against the lesser lights of Ligue 1 was often questioned.

In scenes that were to be repeated later in his career, El Gaucho was to also face fierce criticism from then PSG coach Luis Fernandez due to his love of the Parisian nightlife as well as his tardy approach to returning from international duty with Brazil. This last factor in particular led to repeated disciplinary measures from the PSG leadership, with the player being fined in the winter of 2002 due to his late return to France after the winter break.

Ronaldinho was however to enjoy success with the Selecao during this period, with El Gaucho playing a major role in Brazil’s World Cup victory in Japan and South Korea due to his successful relationship with Rivaldo and Ronaldo.

The ‘3 Rs’ were to torment all of the best teams in the world, with Ronaldinho himself providing the winning goal in Brazil’s dramatic 2-1 victory over England at the Quarter Final stage with his now famous ‘floating leaf’ free kick lobbing the hapless Three Lions goalkeeper David Seaman.

Coming back to Paris as a world champion Ronaldinho was expected to provide the spark for a PSG revival like his fellow countryman Raí had done in the 1990s. This was not to happen however, even though Ronaldinho was to finish the 2002/03 season as top scorer. PSG were instead to finish the season outside of the European places, with El Gaucho given a standing ovation in the club’s final game of the season due to his wish to leave the club.

Ronaldinho’s availability for a transfer alerted several of the continent’s top sides with the early stages of the summer seeing Manchester United and Real Madrid battle for his signature. Los Merengues were however only prepared to buy Ronaldinho and loan him back to PSG for the 2003/04 season due to the presence of Luis Figo in the Real Madrid midfield. This seemed to push the player towards the Premiership rather than La Liga, however the election victory for Joan Laporta in the F.C. Barcelona presidential elections was to see the Blaugranes move beyond Sir Alex Ferguson’s forceful advances for the player and bring Ronaldinho to the Nou Camp for a £21 million pound fee.

F.C. Barcelona


Ronaldinho was brought to Barcelona as the crown jewel in Joan Laporta’s revolution alongside newly installed coach Frank Rijkaard. This partnership was to gift the Culés crowd with a new period of sporting achievement in Barcelona’s glittering history over the coming years.

However, the early months of the 2003/04 season were to be traumatic for this pair as Ronaldinho struggled with an injury, whilst Barcelona slumped to a mid table position before Christmas. These were not all bad times though, with El Gaucho scoring a long range goal of unbelievable quality against Sevilla F.C as he began to ease his way in to the hearts of the Nou Camp crowd.

In stark contrast to Barcelona’s frankly terrible form before the winter break, the Blaugranes were to shoot up the table in the second half of the season with Ronaldinho beginning to pull the strings of the Barcelona attack in a way that hadn’t been seen since the glory days of fellow Brazilian Rivaldo in the late 1990s.

The undoubted highlight of both Barcelona and Ronaldinho’s charge to the runners up spot behind Valencia came at the home of their hated rivals Real Madrid in April 2004, with Ronaldinho first setting up Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert with an inventive lobbed pass of the highest quality over the heads of the static Madrid defence, before he laid the winning goal on a plate for Xavi.

Barcelona were to carry this stunning form in to the 2004/05 season, with Samuel Eto’o, Deco, Ludovic Giuly and Henrik Larsson joining Ronaldinho to form arguably the deadliest attacking unit in European football.

These players were to take Barcelona all the way to their first La Liga title since 2000, although a disappointing second round exit to Chelsea in the Champions League was to put a sour note on the season even though Ronaldinho himself scored a remarkable goal at Stamford Bridge in Barcelona’s 4-2 defeat to Jose Mourinho’s team as he somehow managed to pull the ball out from under his feet to shoot past Petr Čech from the edge of the Blues penalty box.

This campaign also saw Ronaldinho crowned the World Player of the Year for the first time on the 20th December 2004, whilst the summer of 2005 was to see El Gaucho make up for the disappointment he suffered in the 1999 Confederations Cup to claim this title for Brazil.

This winning feeling was not to evade Ronaldinho in the 2005/06 season as the darling of the Nou Camp continued to reach even higher levels of performance.

On an individual level, this saw Ronaldinho score not only a second successive World Player of the Year award, but he was also named in the FIFPro Team of the Year, as well as being crowned European Footballer of the Year.

For F.C. Barcelona, Ronaldinho was to provide the undoubted inspiration behind the club’s second successive La Liga title, as well as helping the Blaugranes to only their second ever European Cup triumph.

These months can now be considered the high watermark in Ronaldinho’s career so far, with the Porto Alegre man putting in the types of performances that saw his name get mentioned in the same breath as such legends of the game as Pele, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff.

The most remarkable moment of this season was to come once again at the home of great rivals Real Madrid as Ronaldinho tormented and tore apart the Madrid team, with the second of his goals in Barcelona’s 3-0 victory leading to a standing ovation from the usually hostile Bernabéu crowd.

Understandably performances like this led to the expectations around Ronaldinho growing to epic proportions in the run up to the World Cup of 2006, with the Barcelona player expected to carry his club form in to the tournament in Germany.

However, much like his Brazilian team mates around him, Ronaldinho was to disappoint terribly in this World Cup. Undoubtedly looking tired after a hard European season, he was unable to provide any sort of inspiration, failing to score a goal along the way to Brazil’s lacklustre Quarter Final defeat to Zinedine Zidane’s French team.

This general lethargy also transferred itself to his performances for Barcelona in the 2006/07 season with Ronaldinho looking like he was missing the yard of pace that had made him the most feared player in the planet in previous years. Gone were the dynamic step overs and sprints passed helpless full backs. Instead, El Gaucho seemed much more content with playing the game at a snail’s pace in areas of the pitch where his influence was to cause much less damage to the opposition.

These poor performances saw Barcelona relinquish their grip on the La Liga and Champions League crowns they’d fought so hard for in the previous season, whilst Ronaldinho was to also lose his World Player of the Year trophy to Fabio Cannavaro.

There were however a few highlights in Barcelona meek title defence of that year, including a sumptuous goal against Villarreal at the Nou Camp where El Gaucho’s expert chest control allowed him to score an outrageous overhead kick, as well as a cheeky free kick that went under the wall in the group stages of the Champions League against Werder Bremen.

With the footballing world hoping that the 2006/07 season was to only be a temporary blip in the career of Ronaldinho, the 2007/08 campaign instead saw the decline of Ronaldinho increase as rapidly as the size of his waistband.

Stories of late night drinking sessions, as well as a non-existent training programmes dominated the back pages headlines of the Spanish sports dailies, with Marca running a particularly damning photo comparing the physical status of a topless Ronaldinho in his 2005 prime to the overweight frame he boasted in the winter of 2007.

The campaign itself saw Ronaldinho struck by injury after injury, with his season being ended on the 3rd April 2008 after tearing a thigh muscle in training. Indeed, it is hard to recollect many things that went well for the Barcelona mega star, with only a great bicycle kick against Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderon allowing Ronaldinho to exhibit anything like the ability for the sublime that exemplified his play of recent years.

Transfer Rumours


With the fortunes of both Ronaldinho and F.C. Barcelona taking a drastic turn for the worst since the 2005/06 season, it became inevitable that a parting of the ways between these parties had to occur in the summer of 2008, with Barcelona president Joan Laporta stating on Catalan television station TV3 that "He (Ronaldinho) needs a new challenge. When a cycle finishes it is normal that the most emblematic pieces also come to an end."

Instead of this remark starting a battle between all the top clubs in Europe for his signature, the decline in the ability of Ronaldinho seemed to create a lukewarm reaction in the majority of Europe’s top clubs, with only A.C. Milan and Thaksin Shinawatra’s Manchester City side expressing any expressed interest in acquiring the Brazilian no. 10.

This competition between these two sides for the signing of Ronaldinho took a surprising twist on the 19th June when A.C. Milan vice President Adriano Galliani admitted to Gazzetta Della Sport "We simply cannot compete with certain figures anymore. Manchester City have offered the Brazilian (Ronaldinho) 12 million Euros (£9.5million) a year. We can only compete with that if they (Barcelona) give him away for free."

These developments seemed to put Manchester City in to pole position for El Gaucho’s signature due to their new financial clout, with City manager Mark Hughes confirming his interest in the striker upon joining the club.

However, as time passed it began to seem clearer that Ronaldinho was not just to be persuaded by City’s supposed £200,000 a week contract offer, with Galliani changing his tune on the 3rd July to state "It seems to me that Ronaldinho has placed Milan at the top of his desires.”

Never the less, Manchester City’s ambitions were not to be deterred by such remarks, with the club offering the Barcelona board a reputed transfer fee of £22 million on the 13th July. A.C. Milan were instead only able to offer a transfer fee of £15 million and wages of £100,000 a week, with Joan Laporta discussing in relation to the position of Ronaldinho and his brother on Catalayan Radio "They have two interesting proposals. They are tempted more by the offer from Manchester City."

However, this position was to prove incorrect as on the 15th July an official statement on the A.C. Milan website announced "AC Milan and FC Barcelona have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ronaldinho. Tomorrow, the player will be in Milan for the medical, and to sign the contract which will tie him to Milan until June 30th 2011."

Did You Know


Ronaldinho is one of few players to have played for Brazil at every footballing level, as he has played for the under 15, under 17, under 20, under 23, and senior teams.

Ronaldinho became a naturalised Spanish citizen in January 2007.

Ronaldinho became a father for the first time on February 25, 2005, after Brazilian dancer Janaína Nattielle Viana Mendes gave birth to their son, who was named João after Ronaldinho's father.


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