Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho Gaúcho or simply Ronaldinho, is a Brazilian former professional footballer and ambassador for Barcelona.
He played mostly as an attacking midfielder, but was also deployed as a forward or a winger.
- Full name: Ronaldo de Assis Moreira
- Profession: Brazilian footballer
- Born: 21 March 1980 (age 40 years), Porto Alegre, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
- Full name: Ronaldo de Assis Moreira
- Height: 1.81 m
- Salary: 9.6 million BRL (2013)
- Position: Midfielder
- Number: 10 (FC Barcelona)
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Ronaldo de Assis Moreira was born on 21 March 1980 in the city of Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
His mother, Miguelina Elói Assis dos Santos, is a former salesperson who studied to become a nurse. His father, João de Assis Moreira, was a shipyard worker and footballer for local club Esporte Clube Cruzeiro (not to be confused with the larger Cruzeiro Esporte Clube).
After Ronaldo’s older brother Roberto signed with Grêmio, the family moved to a home in the more affluent Guarujá section of Porto Alegre, which was a gift from Grêmio to convince Roberto to stay at the club, but Roberto’s career was ultimately cut short by injury.
It was in their new home where his father hit his head and drowned in the swimming pool when Ronaldo was eight. Today, Roberto acts as his manager, while his sister Deisi works as his press coordinator.
Ronaldo’s football skills began to blossom at the age of eight, and he was first given the nickname Ronaldinho – “inho” meaning small – because he was often the youngest and the smallest player in youth club matches.
He developed an interest in futsal and beach football, which later expanded to organized football. A lot of his signature moves originate from futsal, especially his ball control.
His first brush with the media came at the age of 13, when he scored all 23 goals in a 23–0 victory against a local team.
Ronaldinho was identified as a rising star at the 1997 U-17 World Championship in Egypt, in which he scored two goals on penalty kicks.
Growing up, his idols included the World Cup winning stars; Rivelino (from 1970), Diego Maradona (from 1986), Romário (from 1994), and his two future international teammates Ronaldo and Rivaldo (which would form the attacking trio in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winning team).
Ronaldinho is the father of a son, João, born on 25 February 2005 to Brazilian dancer Janaína Mendes and named after his late father.
He gained Spanish citizenship in 2007. In March 2018 Ronaldinho joined the Brazilian Republican Party which has links to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Ronaldinho endorsed presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the 2018 Brazilian presidential election.
Ronaldinho made his career debut for Grêmio, in 1998. At age 20, he moved to Paris Saint-Germain in France before signing for Barcelona in 2003.
In his second season with Barcelona, he won his first FIFA World Player of the Year award, as Barcelona won La Liga.
The season that followed is considered one of the best in his career as he was instrumental in Barcelona winning the UEFA Champions League, their first in fourteen years, as well as another La Liga title, giving Ronaldinho his first career double.
After scoring two spectacular solo goals in El Clásico, Ronaldinho became the second Barcelona player, after Diego Maradona in 1983, to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu. Ronaldinho also received his second FIFA World Player of the Year award, as well as the Ballon d’Or.
Following a second-place La Liga finish to rivals Real Madrid in the 2006–07 season and an injury plagued 2007–08 season, Ronaldinho departed Barcelona to join Milan.
He then returned to Brazil to play for Flamengo in 2011 and Atlético Mineiro a year later where he won the Copa Libertadores, before moving to Mexico to play for Querétaro and then back to Brazil to play for Fluminense in 2015.
Ronaldinho accumulated numerous other individual awards in his career. He was included in the UEFA Team of the Year and the FIFA World XI three times, named UEFA Club Footballer of the Year in 2006 and the South American Footballer of the Year in 2013, and was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the world’s greatest living players compiled by Pelé.
At international level, Ronaldinho played 97 matches for the Brazil national team, scoring 33 goals and representing his country in two FIFA World Cups.
He was an integral part of the 2002 FIFA World Cup-winning team in Korea and Japan, starring alongside Ronaldo and Rivaldo in an attacking trio, scoring two goals, including a free-kick from 40 yards out against England, registering two assists and being named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team.
As captain, he led Brazil to their second Confederations Cup title in 2005 and was named Man of the Match in the final. Ronaldinho scored three goals in the tournament, taking his total to nine, making him the competition’s joint all-time leading goalscorer.