Some people are artists. Some, themselves, are art.
Ronaldinho is art personified; the greatest entertainer football has ever seen, period. Footballers have come and gone and will continue to do so, but it seems nigh impossible for the sport to produce another player as devilishly tricky and skilful as the Brazilian wizard.
Ronaldinho became the first legend to retire in 2018 after he decided to hang up his boots a few days ago. For all that he has given to the beautiful game, football will forever remain indebted to him for his priceless contributions.
During his days, Dinho, as he is fondly known, made it a habit for people to drop their jaws whenever they watched him play. He did things with a ball others could only dream of. That being said, let's have a look at 5 things that only Ronaldinho has done till date:
#5 The crossbar challenge
Of all the countless magic tricks he performed, none is perhaps as awe-inspiring as this one.
Ronaldinho is juggling around the penalty box and suddenly volleys the ball towards the goal. Many might have anticipated that he was scoring as usual, but they remain astounded when the ball comes back to him. As if to prove that it isn't a one-time thing, Dinho repeats the action twice, showing his godly ball control and accuracy.
We are talking about the first ever video that amassed a million views on Youtube; the Brazilian's Touch of Gold piece for Nike. Apparently, he was trying out a new set of shoes produced by the apparel makers in the video.
While some people appreciated his skill, some also branded the montage as fake, out of disbelief. You can't blame them, can you? Because that's what Ronaldinho always did - inexplicable things that left people lost for words.
#4 Scoring 23 goals in a game
Surely, every football fan is familiar with this tale by now; the story of how Ronaldinho came into the first spotlight following a 23-goal game.
The Brazilian maestro's skills had begun to blossom at the tender age of eight and it didn't take long for him to have his first brush with the media. In a game that finished 23-0, a 13-year-old Ronaldinho scored all the 23 goals against a local club.
Just a year later, he was already making headlines as a star performer in Brazil's successful U17 World Championship in Egypt. Followed by that, he also took his first step into professional football with a debut for Gremio's first team while fans witnessed the birth of another legend.
#3 Juggling with closed eyes
Throughout his career, Ronaldinho has earned many plaudits for his utterly magnificent ball control, not to mention his bag of numerous football tricks. All that is accredited to his younger days when he spent hours playing beach football and Futsal; a crucial reason behind his attractive and devastating style of play.
Juggling, as we know, is the most basic exercise used to polish control over the ball. Of course, every footballer does it, but can they do it equally well with their eyes closed?
In a challenge that involved juggling the ball with a piece of cloth used to blindfold the eyes, the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Theo Walcott, Xavi Hernandez and many others failed to hardly muster a count of ten.
On the other hand, the Brazilian notched an astonishing count of 44 juggles, demonstrating why he is regarded as one of the greatest masters ever to grace the game. Absolute legend!
#2 The water bottle assist
This incident clearly shows that Ronaldinho wasn't just a great trickster and a dribbler, but a clever reader of the game as well. The Brazilian showcased his brilliant presence of mind by using a crafty ploy in a game against Sao Paolo.
The incident started with Dinho heading towards the goalkeeper as the ball went out for a throw-in. Initially, it looked like he was taking his position as his teammate readied himself for the throw-in.
However, Ronaldinho went straight to the opponent goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni and asked for his water bottle while the Sao Paolo defenders stayed completely unaware of his whereabouts. After he drank some water, he stayed close to the keeper and 20 yards ahead of the defence line, completely unmarked.
Sensing the ploy, Ronaldinho's team-mate broke the defence by just throwing the ball towards him. In turn, the Brazilian made a swift cross to Jô who arrived in time to tap the ball into the net.
While watching the video, it looks like an offside attempt considering Ronaldinho's position when he received the ball. But that's where lies his brilliance. The offside rule is applicable only to passes and not to throw-ins; a piece of knowledge he wisely used to set up a goal.
#1 Tutoring Lionel Messi
“Those that came up from the B team sat on the other side. The dressing room was a U shape and we were sat in front. The moment arrived where they told me that I had to change side and didn’t have to spend more time there. "They received me wll in the dressing room, spectacularly. To come into this dressing room was not easy, they made everything much easier for me. I was very comfortable, very free, because of how they let me sit — not just Ronnie but all the dressing room.” - Leo Messi
Ronaldinho is to Messi what Albus Dumbledore is to Harry Potter; a great teacher and above all, a great friend. The Brazilian provided the assist to the Argentinian's first ever goal as a Barcelona player. Also, Dinho has been credited by many for playing a noteworthy part in the making of perhaps the greatest player the game has ever seen.
Of course, the diminutive no.10 didn't need much tutoring, seeing how naturally gifted a player he was. Yet, when it comes to playing under the shadow of the greatest player in the world, very few players can handle the pressure that comes along.
The World Cup winner made sure Messi's ability didn't wear off under the stress of playing for a giant club alongside great footballers.
Dinho showed what a gem of a person he was, helping a 17-year-old Messi to adjust at the club. Brazil and Argentina share a fierce rivalry on the pitch but that never counted when it came to the dressing room at the Nou Camp. Ronaldinho was kind and gentle to Messi from the very start, a fact that is quite visible in the aforementioned quote.
As their friendship blossomed both on and off the pitch, perhaps the greatest lesson Messi learnt from Ronaldinho was that of maintaining modesty in the face of eminence; staying grounded, no matter the amount of fame or money he received as a player.
Today, when you see Leo Messi making a penalty assist to Luis Suarez, allowing Neymar to take a shot from the spot in spite of being on a hat-trick himself and extending a helping hand to Ousmane Dembele at the club, don't you realise where all that humility and helpful nature come from?
He learnt his trade under some great coaches in Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola, but frankly speaking, Messi couldn't have had a greater privilege than taking football and life lessons from football's greatest entertainer ever.