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Barcelona legend Ronaldinho waves goodbye to football

Barcelona legend Ronaldinho waves goodbye to football

Barcelona and Brazil legend Ronaldinho has retired from football, according to BBC Sport.

The news was announced by his brother and agent, Roberto Assis, who has said the 37-year-old will continue to arrange events across the globe.

Ronaldinho played in five countries, but is best known for his World Cup win for Brazil and his incredible performance against Real Madrid in 2005 that sparked a standing ovation from the Santiago Bernabeu fans, something that has only been done once before to a Barcelona player.

Heading to Europe

The former Brazil international will go down as one of the greatest players to ever have played the game, with his silky skills, ingenuity and ability to score from nothing made him feared by opposition defences.

He started his career for his hometown club Gremio, but began to gain recognition across Europe when he joined French side Paris Saint-Germain in 2001.

Here the winger quickly became a fan favourite and garnered interest from some of the biggest clubs, having scored 17 goals in his two seasons in Ligue 1.

World Cup winner

In the middle of his stint in France, he won the greatest prize of all, the World Cup. Ronaldinho had become a regular for his country since his debut in 1999, winning the Copa America that same year. In 2002, he was once again a part of a formidable trio, dubbed the Three R’s, along with Rivaldo and Ronaldo.

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Brazil easily navigated their group, winning all three matches, but it is the quarter-final fixture against England that saw the world sit up and take notice of Ronaldinho.

The game level at 1-1 and early in the second half, Ronaldinho was setting himself for a free-kick from 35 yards out. Instead of whipping it into the box, he spots David Seaman off his line and tries his luck, planting the ball into the top left corner, just out of the reach of the retreating England goalkeeper.

Brazil went onto win the trophy, beating Germany in the final, thanks to a double from Ronaldo, but it was Ronaldinho who had lit up the tournament. Twelve months later, Barcelona beat Manchester United to sign the PSG star for €30 million.

Making his mark at Barca

It was here where he became one of the best, destroying defenders on a weekly basis, bamboozling them with his quick feet, creativity and speed. A goal against Chelsea in the 2005 Champions League saw him rooted to the spot, on the edge of the penalty area and surrounded by players. Ronaldinho just toe-poked it past Petr Cech.

By the end of that year, he was collecting the Ballon d’Or title for best player playing in Europe and his second consecutive World Player of the Year trophy.

In 2006, he added a Champions League medal to his already-illustrious collection. That same season he had been at the heart of the destruction of Barca’s greatest rivals, Real Madrid. Exquisite passing, sensational skills, dazzling dribbling and two incredible goals saw him receive an accolade only Diego Maradona has ever got in a Barcelona shirt. A standing ovation from the Bernabeu crowd.

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The decline of a great

After five seasons at Barcelona and the club thinking he was past his best, Ronaldinho moved to Italy and AC Milan. Although he was not as successful as in Spain, he still showed the world what he was capable of and that he still had life and skills in him.

Following two-and-a-half seasons at the San Siro, he returned to Brazil in January 2011, joining Flamengo, before moving on to Atletico Mineiro. It was during his spell here that Ronaldinho retired from international football, ending his playing career with the Selecao in 2013 with 97 caps to his name.

A short stint in Mexico with Queretaro was followed by another return to his homeland, this time with Fluminense, but 2015 was the last time he played club football.

While he had been playing indoor football and even though there was still a chance he could play and get a contract, he has hung up his boots for good at the age of 37.

Although since leaving AC Milan, his decline has been rapid, he will always be remembered for lighting up La Liga and produced video after video of highlight reels with his skills and quality with a ball at his feet.