Born on March 21, 1980, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Ronaldinho came from a family of soccer players to reach the pinnacle of success in the sport. After a celebrated youth career, Ronaldinho became a key member of the Brazilian team that won the 2002 World Cup. He has played for clubs in Brazil, France, Spain and Italy, and twice been named FIFA World Player of the Year.
Ronaldinho began playing organized youth soccer at the age of 7, and it was as a youth soccer player that he first received the nickname "Ronaldinho," the diminutive form of his birth name, Ronaldo. "They always called me that when I was little because I was really small," the player explains, "and I played with players who were older than me. When I got to the senior national team there was another Ronaldo, so they started calling me Ronaldinho because I was younger."
In addition to soccer, Ronaldinho also played futsal—an offshoot of soccer played indoors on a hard court surface and with only five players on each side. Ronaldinho's early experiences with futsal helped shape his unique playing style, marked by his remarkable touch and close control on the ball. "A lot of the moves I make originate from futsal," Ronaldinho once said, explaining, "It's played in a very small space, and the ball control is different in futsal. And to this day, my ball control is pretty similar to a futsal player's control."
In 2003, Ronaldinho fulfilled a lifelong dream by joining FC Barcelona of the Spanish league, one of the world's most storied clubs, and winning the legendary No. 10 jersey typically worn by the squad's greatest creative player. In 2004 and 2005, Ronaldinho won back-to-back FIFA World Player of the Year awards, the sport's highest individual honor.
An absolute wizard with a soccer ball, Ronaldinho is considered by many to be the greatest player of his generation and one of the best in history. He says that his soccer career has been an emotional roller coaster filled with high highs, low lows and a lifetime of unforgettable moments. "For me soccer provides so many emotions, a different feeling every day," Ronaldinho says. "I've had the good fortune to take part in major competitions like the Olympics, and winning the World Cup was also unforgettable. We lost in the Olympics and won in the World Cup, and I'll never forget either feeling."
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