Ronaldinho: Star of the Brazilian team

They call it the beautiful game back in his homeland.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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New Delhi:

They call it the beautiful game back in his homeland, and Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho is one player who plays it as beautifully as many of his glorious predecessors, including the one and only Pele. Skilful, dedicated, inspiring; Ronaldinho is the driving force behind Brazil's challenge for a sixth World Cup Trophy. His place in the final eleven for Germany 2006 is guaranteed by the coach who has every confidence Ronaldinho can live up to the expectations that come with the title of 2005 FIFA Player Of The Year. More than a dangerous and exciting player, the current custodian of Brazil's number 10 shirt is a master of improvisation with an attitude that has made Ronaldinho one of the most respected players today. Unstoppable in qualifying and a star for FC Barcelona, Ronaldinho is capable of re-inventing the game any time he laces up his boots and World Cup 2006 is set to be his finest hour. At the international level, Ronaldinho averages a goal every other game, having scored 27 in 60 appearances for the Samba Brigade since his debut in 1999. Brazil's magical attacking quartet, with four players among Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho, Kaka and Adriano in front steamrolled the opposition at the Confederations Cup last year. Brazil playing the daring 4-2-4 combination employed during the old, glorious days of Garrincha and Pele. Described as "god's gift to football'' by club teammate Henrik Larsson, Ronaldinho's methods of tricking defenders include "la cola de vaca'', Spanish for cow's tail in which he flicks the ball from one shoe to another in quick succession. Humble beginnings What's not so well known is that his full name is actually Ronaldo de Assis Moreira. In fact, he was given the nickname Ronaldinho, which means Little Ronaldo, to help distinguish between him and his formerly more-famous strike partner. Ronaldinho was raised by his mother in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre after his father died, and joined the youth ranks of local first-division team Gremio as a seven- year-old. Then followed a two-year-stint with French side Paris saint-Germain in the early years of the millennium, where his manager claimed he was more focussed on the nightlife of Paris than on his game. But in 2003 Ronaldinho Gaucho arrived in Barcelona, and went from superhero to demi-god status. The 26-year-old has been the face of a resurgent Barca, scoring 24 goals from 68 games for the Catalan giants and being the driving force behind their two consecutive la liga titles. As the superhero's fame spread worldwide, it was quite fitting when he got his own comic series as well which was inspired by the feats of the buck toothed wonder. But it will be no laughing matter, least of all for his opponents, when the ponytailed genius takes the field in Germany. After all, no one can forget the way he mesmerised defences in this fashion in his only previous appearance at the last world cup. From his harsh childhood to fighting his way into the formidable Brazil forwardline to becoming the star of the world's number one team, this is one player who's turned every obstacle into a stepping stone and goes into the World Cup as the biggest star on offer.