It's the quarterfinal of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Brazil and England are playing some delightful football. The score is 1-1. We are into the 48th minute. Paul Scholes brings down Brazil's Kleberson about 40 yards away from the English goal. Ronaldo de Assis Moreira — or Ronaldinho as we all know him — steps up to take the free-kick. He sees that England goalkeeper David Seaman is slightly off his line. So, he decides to chip the ball. The chip is perfect. The ball goes over the goalkeeper and into the top bracket of the goal. Brazil win the game 2-1 and go on to win the World Cup. Ronaldinho becomes an instant legend.
For almost a decade-and-a-half, Ronaldinho has mesmerised fans all over the world with his slick movements, pin-point crosses, curling free-kicks and unimaginable through-balls. He shone at the world's best clubs like Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain. And now, Ronaldinho is set to participate in the Indian Super League (ISL). Yes, you heard it right! Even though there is no official confirmation, sources in the know have revealed that the Brazilian legend is set to join the Chennai franchise. After playing out his contract with Atletico Mineiro in Brazil last month, Ronaldinho is now a free agent.
Prashant Agarwal, CEO of Kshatriya Sports and Playon Skills, who represented Team Chennai at the ISL international player draft last week, told dna that "anything is possible". "It's not easy to sign a superstar like Ronaldinho. To sign such a big player, you need to have a detailed discussion with him and his agent. We need to make them understand the enormity of this venture. After all, this is the first edition of the league."
Agarwal, who is currently in Sweden for obvious reasons, added, "Ronaldinho's brother Roberto de Assis Moreira is a good friend of mine. I can't reveal if I have been in talks with him about his brother, but I can tell you that we will get a legend on board."
Kshatriya Sports and Playon Skills have a technical tie-up with the Inter Milan academy in India. Agarwal claims that it was he who got Alessandro del Piero to Delhi Dynamos. "When I first suggested Del Piero, everyone thought I was crazy. Same way, people don't believe that Ronaldinho could come to India. We'll see what happens in the coming weeks."
Ronaldinho or R10 as he is otherwise known, has won the FIFA World Player of the Year award twice (2004 and 2005). A certain Lionel Messi says Ronaldinho is his biggest inspiration. In an interview with Barca TV last year, Messi said, "I've always said that from the first moment I entered the changing room, Ronaldinho and the rest of the Brazilians — Deco, Sylvinho and Thiago Motta — welcomed me and made things easier for me. But above all, him (Ronaldinho), because he was the star of the team. I learnt a lot from him. Ronaldinho made everything much easier for me. I had the good luck to experience him at first hand and to share many things with him. I can say that he's a really great person and that's the most important thing."
Ronaldinho made his senior debut for Gremio in the 1998 Copa Libertadores tournament. The following year, he joined the Brazilian national team to compete in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico. Brazil turned in a second-place finish, and Ronaldinho won the Golden Ball Award as the tournament's best player as well as the Golden Boot Award as its leading goal-scorer.
Firmly established as a star on the international stage, in 2001 Ronaldinho left Brazil for Europe, signing a contract to play for Paris Saint-Germain in France. After winning the World Cup in 2002, Ronaldinho fulfilled a lifelong dream by joining FC Barcelona in 2003. There, he wore the legendary No. 10 jersey typically worn by the squad's greatest creative player. He led his teammates to the pinnacle of club success in 2006 with a triumphant run through the prestigious UEFA Champions League tournament. The following month, Ronaldinho headlined a very talented Brazilian squad that entered the World Cup with sky-high expectations. The tournament ended in disappointment for the defending champs though, as France knocked Brazil out in the quarterfinals.
In 2008, Ronaldinho left Barcelona to join AC Milan, but his performance for the Italian Serie A giants was mostly nondescript. Underscoring his fading status, the former World Player of the Year was not included in the 2010 Brazilian team that competed in the World Cup in South Africa. His woes did not end there. Despite his good performances for Atletico Mineiro in the Brazilian league, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari overlooked him for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Now, even at 34, he is fit to play a 90-minute game. His skills with the ball are unquestionable. He can still do his trademark Elastica — or the rubber-band trick as it more commonly known — on demand. So India, be sure to expect nothing less than magnificent from a nothing less than magnificent player.