by Cresi Heslop
This is the first in a new series called “Sports Birthdays”. The aim is to give a glimpse into the youth days of various athletes. It is fascinating to see what the world’s top athletes were like as young men and women growing up. A special note to our young athletes reading this: just remember that they were nothing different to you, dreaming, believing and working hard to someday reach high goals, make an impact and leave a good legacy!
Name and Sport
Ronaldinho Gaucho, Brazilian international footballer. Full name Ronaldo de Assis Moreira. Ronaldinho being the diminutive for Ronaldo.
21st March 1980
As a young Athlete
Ronaldinho grew up in a working class district in Porto Alegre, in the south of Brazil. He was the youngest of three children. His father, an amateur dedicated footballer, who worked in the shipyards, was set on training his sons in football from small, and soon recognized their talent. Ronaldinho was given a football for his first birthday, and was almost never seen without a ball after that!
Both Ronaldinho and his older brother played for youth football clubs. The young Ronaldinho of 8 and his family suffered a tragic loss when his father died of a heart attack. However, I believe that his father’s prophetic words over him from the time that he was but a toddler, saying that Ronandinho would be the best in the world deeply impacted Ronaldiho’s determination and journey to the top. When Ronaldinho was 13 he scored a ridiculous 23 goals in a 23-0 match. As a young boy he spent many long hours studying and practicing the moves and strategies of the greats of football in Brazil like Pelé , Ronaldo and Revelino. The young Ronaldinho was no stranger to hardship and had to contend with dusty, grassless soccer pitches and makeshift balls, but this did not stop the burning passion within him to keep playing football.
He had a celebrated youth career which included the call up in 1997 to the under 17 National Team which won the FIFA under 17 World Championship in Egypt. He went on to play for the Brazilian National Football Team and various world class football clubs.
Renowned for his “samba with a football”, for his technique, tricks, dribbling, overhead kicks, no-look passes and free kicks, Ronaldinho is regarded as one of the best players who deeply impacted his generation. He is often mentioned in the same breath as Pelé – one of the greatest ever Brazilian and world footballers. A characteristic about Ronaldinho that grips the attention of all around him is that abundant joy, that ever smiling face. One who plays The Beautiful Game “Jogo Bonito” – for the love of the game! This I think this type of attitude makes all the difference between success and failure.
Attacking midfielder / Forward
Famous quote by Ronaldinho
Image courtesy of:
Reto Stauffer, www.hopp-schwiiz.ch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons