On March 21, 1980, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira is born in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Ronaldinho, as he is now known, became a soccer phenomenon, famous the world over for his breathtaking ball-handling skills and creative play.
Ronaldinho began his soccer career with Gremio, one of two major teams in Porto Alegre, when he was only seven years old. He soon made a name for himself in Brazil when he scored 23 goals in one game. His talent for finding the back of the net and impressive ball control allowed him to skip the youth league entirely and move directly to Gremio’s professional team in 1997. European soccer clubs soon came calling, and he signed with Paris Saint-Germain in 2001.
After two seasons in Paris, Ronaldinho agreed to a deal with Barcelona in the Spanish League, following in the footsteps of other great Brazilian players including Ronaldo and Rivaldo. There, coach Frank Rijkaard moved him to forward and allowed him to play an aggressive style of offense, attacking, creating opportunities and scoring goals. He led Barcelona to La Liga titles in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. Ronaldinho won the FIFA Player of the Year award, given annually to the best player in the world, in 2004 and 2005. Also in 2005, Ronaldinho became the third Brazilian player to win the prestigious European Footballer of the Year award, or Ballon d’Or.
When Ronaldinho first joined the Brazilian national team in 1995, he was called Ronaldinho Gaucho. This was to distinguish him from another striker by the name of Ronaldo, who had taken Ronaldinho, which means “little Ronaldo,” to differentiate himself from the famed Ronaldo who played striker for Brazil in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups. When the first Ronaldinho retired from the national team, Ronaldinho Gaucho became known as Ronaldinho.