Alter egos 16: Ronaldinho

ronaldinhoRonaldo de Assis Moreira (born 21 March 1980), commonly known as Ronaldinho is a Brazilian footballer who plays for Brazilian club Atlético Mineiro. He is also captain of the Brazilian national team. His main playing position is as a attacking midfielder or forward. He won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2004 and 2005 and is widely regarded to be one of the best footballers of his generation.

He came to prominence in 1997 at the under 17 World Championships in Egypt before moving to Paris Saint-Germain in 2001. It was so nearly St Mirren in the Scottish Premier Division, but alleged involvement in a fake passport scandal in Brazil put paid to that. It could have been Arsenal, but he had not played enough international games at the time to obtain a work permit.

Two years later Ronaldinho signed for Barcelona. He wasn’t their first choice – that was David Beckham, and Ronaldinho was on the Old Trafford shopping list as a replacement. While he was in Spain, Ronaldinho found his place in the history books with an advertisement for Nike. He tried out a new pair of boots, and his juggling of the ball between his feet intermingled with repeated volleys against the crossbar went viral on YouTube. The record wasn’t for keepy-uppies; it was the first video on YouTube to reach a million views.

The footballer’s next move was to Milan in 2008, and this time it was Manchester City who failed to bring him to Britain, the fourth one to have tried. His best days were over, and in time he moved back to Brazil, where he continues to play. At his best, he was twice named FIFA World Player of the Year and in 2005 European Player of the Year.

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Richard Hannon has no pretensions that the Ronaldinho he trains has any aspirations to Horse of the Year, whether at world, British or even his stable level. How seriously can you treat a horse whose dad is called Jeremy?

He has got time to mature, as this is just his second season of racing, and as an April foal, relatively late on in the season, he probably had plenty of growing still to so when running last year. Indeed, Ronaldinho was barely a month over two when he made his debut, finishing last of 11 runners in a Goodwood maiden last May.

There was room for improvement, and second placed finishes at Windsor in his next two races were evidence of it. A step up to seven furlongs in nursery company did the trick, and Ronaldinho went on to win three of his last four starts in his first season over that distance and a mile.

The footballers followed through on his first season promise; so far, the horse has not done so. He’s had two runs over middle distances and beaten one horse home. He tries again in the 7.25 at Goodwood this evening, but look Mr Hannon, you can’t expect too much. Ronaldinho never had to run more than 70 yards at a time.

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