- The Brazilian is expecting “a great party” on 23 October
- Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are his favourites for the men’s award
- Neymar “has every chance” of being among the top three
Brazilian legend Ronaldinho is, without doubt, synonymous with great football. With his unique talent and joyful disposition, he not only won the FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2004 and 2005, but also captivated a generation of fans, who idolise him as much today as they did during his playing days.
In England, however, the mention of his name can elicit a rather different response, his having scored the magnificent free-kick that sent the Three Lions home from the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™. "It’s only logical for that to happen. It’s a country that’s really passionate about football," he told FIFA.com with grin.
After the announcement of the venue for The Best FIFA Football Awards™ 2017 to be held on 23 October, the Brazilian said: "With its long history, London lives and breathes football with a deep passion. There’s going to be a great party there. It’d be a great night anywhere but it’ll be even nicer there."
Once again this year, the gala will be recognising the best players on the planet and, as the winner of back-to-back titles himself, Ronaldinho knows as well as anyone what it takes to earn that distinction.
"It’s a combination of factors, like being with a top team and competing for major honours. If you perform notably but your team doesn’t reach some finals, you could be out of the running. Luck also plays a part, so a measure of fortune at the right moment is vital, both for you as an individual and the team you play for."
Did you know?
- Fans, media representatives, national team captains and head coaches all vote for The Best player
- Each of those four groups make up 25 per cent of the final vote
- Fans will be able to vote from 21 August until 7 September 2017 on FIFA.com
Ronaldinho, in his own words
On the candidates for The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award 2017
"I think it’ll be between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi once again. There are very good players all over the world, but those two continue to make the difference."
On the battle for third place…
"Neymar is enjoying a rich vein of form, he has every chance of being on the shortlist. As a fellow Brazilian, I hope that he takes up the mantle when Cristiano and Messi drop their level a bit."
The players to watch
"If I tried to name them all, I’d surely forget some. I admire a lot of players, and not just forwards. Marcelo of Real Madrid, for example, is a really gifted player. You have to consider everyone – those that do excellent work in other areas of the pitch, and not just those who score the goals."
What it feels like to take the top prize
"It’s the realisation of a dream. As a kid you don’t really dream of being the best in the world, but as a teenager you do. I watched my idols picking up these prizes and thought to myself, ‘I want to be up there one day’ and wanted to follow in their footsteps. That was the first thing I felt when I heard my name read out: a feeling of having fulfilled my calling."