- Brazil's Ronaldinho retires from professional football
- Lifted World Cup at Korea/Japan 2002
- World football community reacts with praise for FIFA Legend
Two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and FIFA World Cup™ winner Ronaldinho has retired from professional football, bringing to an end a two-decade career on the pitch adorned with medals, trophies and a legacy of outrageous talent.
The Brazilian maestro, 37, last featured for a professional club in 2015 with Fluminense, with his brother and agent Roberto Assis announcing the decision to end his time on the field with a series of farewell events later in the year.
"I did what I most loved professionally for 20 years," Ronaldinho said on Instagram. "I lived intensely this dream of children, every moment, trips, victories, defeats, the review, national anthem, the walk in the tunnel, dressing room, field entrance, the soccer shoes I used, the good and bad balls, tributes I won, the stars that I played, those that admired and played and those that only played in the play, but I admire until today!"
Having been instrumental in guiding Brazil back to the pinnacle of world football at Korea/Japan 2002, the forward caught the imaginations of the globe with his overwhelmingly-mesmerising invention on the ball.
A catalyst for millions of young fans to try to emulate his quick feet and outrageous skill, he won back-to-back FIFA World Player of the Year Awards in 2004 and 2005.
However, he had already been a sparkling presence in the game for the best part of a decade by then, scoring twice – while still known as 'Ronaldo' – as Brazil triumphed at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 1997. He then clinched the Copa America and swept the individual awards at the FIFA Confederations Cup two years later, by then sporting 'Ronaldinho' across his back.
He rose to global prominence while at Paris Saint-Germain, before his 2003 move to Barcelona – for a reported €30m club-record fee – saw him become a footballing megastar. While he was unable to capture the FIFA Club World Cup with them in 2006, or repeat World Cup glory that same year, he did add the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup to his trophy cabinet while picking up two La Liga titles at the Camp Nou.
"He was the change of Barcelona for what Barcelona is right now," ex-Blaugrana team-mate Luis Garcia explained. "He was something special, he was the best player by far in the world. He could do anything. Every single session, training session or game he was special and I enjoyed just watching him play so much."
With spells at AC Milan and Flamengo following, he added his second continental title by triumphing in the 2013 Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro, before adding a bronze Club World Cup medal to accompany the silver he claimed eight years earlier.
The world reacts
Having been such an iconic figure during his career, it is with no surprise that his retirement has been met with an outpouring of affection from the football world. Here we round up a few of the best.
“What an honour to be part of your history. I’ll always remember your joy on the field. You left a legacy that will hardly be beaten in the art of football.”
1⃣7⃣ ans après sa signature au Paris Saint-Germain, @10Ronaldinho annonce la fin de sa carrière de joueur, merci pour ces deux superbes années passées sous nos couleurs #ObrigadoRonnie pic.twitter.com/IZpaDspoC9
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) January 17, 2018
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) January 17, 2018
— Alexandre Lacazette (@LacazetteAlex) January 17, 2018
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 17, 2018
Because of messi we don’t appreciate really how good Ronaldinho was that guy could do things with a rolled up fag packet that I couldn’t do with a ball
— Tony Watt (@Tony_Watt7) January 17, 2018
Gracias por cada sonrisa en cada partido, gracias @10Ronaldinho !
Thank you for each smile, in each match!
Grazie per ogni sorriso, in ogni partita!⚽️#ronaldinho #dinho #farawell #football #futbol #soccer #calcio pic.twitter.com/PEa5CE8McW
— Paulo Dybala (@PauDybala_JR) January 17, 2018