The Return of Ronaldinho: Is It Possible?

Richard MesquitaContributor IAugust 12, 2009

ATLANTA - JULY 22:  Ronaldinho #80 of AC Milan moves the ball against Juan Carlos Silva #26 of Club America during the World Football Challenge match at Georgia Dome on July 22, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

We are all familiar with the feints, the look-away passes, the surgical free kicks that made the world’s football fans fall in love with Ronaldinho.  Even those who were not Brazilian or Barcelona fans could not argue that “the force” was strong with this one.

Remember that game against Real Madrid (you know the one) where he scored two of the most amazing goals that will be forever imprinted in the memories of Real Madrid fans? The whole Bernabeu audience stood up in awe of this great athlete.

Performances like that at the Bernabeu and many others earned him not one  but two FIFA Player of the Year awards for 2004 and 2005.

In 45 appearances in the 2003-2004 season, Ronaldinho scored 22 goals; in the 2004-2005 season he scored 13 goals in 42 appearances. This does not include the magic that he brought on the pitch feeding Messi and Eto’o many, many goal scoring opportunities.

His best year yet scoring wise came in 2005-2006 when he had 26 goals in 45 matches. He led Barcelona to both a La Liga and Champions League titles. Remember that amazing overhead bicycle kick goal against Villareal which brought the whole stadium to its feet?

Everyone believed that with Ronaldinho wearing the No. 10 jersey for Brazil, they would win the 2006 World Cup.

But if there is one thing that we all can agree on, it is that in this beautiful game of ours, nothing is for sure.

In 2006 Ronaldinho was part of the “Magic Quartet" alongside Adriano, Kaka, and Ronaldo. Nevertheless, Ronaldinho turned in his worst performance ever in international games. He remained scoreless and provided only one assist on Gilberto’s goal over Japan.

Ronaldinho became the worst No. 10 ever in Brazil’s World Cup History, if not in statistics, at least in the minds of fans that were looking to him to lead a star-studded team to an unprecedented sixth world cup title. But it was not to be.

After the World Cup, the Ronaldinho roller coaster began its ride. Plagued by injury and a lack of form, Ronaldinho turned in a less than stellar season, marking his back door exit from Barcelona.

So, can he return to orm?

Well, this is a tricky question. There are many who say yes and many who say no. I am on the fence. But I will say that Ronaldinho, more than anyone I have ever seen play, has all the tools necessary to drive him back to being football’s No. 1 player.

Reason No. 1: He has natural talent. He has what players the world over long for, but can’t be taught. Either you have it or you don’t.

Reason No. 2: He has team support. He has a support system behind him that just wants to see him succeed. New coach Leonardo is doing all that is possible for him to once again return to form. Teammates are supportive and are all looking to him to lead the way.

Reason No. 3: He has something to prove. That is a very strong motivating force. I don’t think that a player of his caliber would want to end his career on this flat note. I believe that having the World Cup just around the corner will motivate him to train harder, to once again become that game-changing player that we are used to seeing.

Many say that he parties too much, that he is not professional, and that he has no respect for the jersey that he represents.

I have to disagree. I think that a lot of what we see and hear in the media are stories that will sell newspapers and magazines, stories that will increase viewers on Web sites.

Which would be a news story that you would most likely read: "Ronaldinho out until All Hours" or "Seedorf out Late with His Buddies"?

Of course the more newsworthy story is anything and everything about Ronaldinho.

Now, on the other hand, he is a millionaire athlete that should be professional and make sure that he is present at all training sessions giving 110 percent

Can Ronaldinho return to form? I hope so. The world of football misses him.


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