'Little Ronaldo' tells all, and more...
Ronaldinho says that for Brazilian football, finishing second is the same as finishing last, so the objective is to end up as champions.Updated: Jun 02, 2006 11:05 IST
He is the best player on the planet but doesn't like to admit it. He lives with a perpetual smile on his face but says he does get annoyed sometimes. He says football is "perfect, the best thing there is," but aspires for greater perfection.
He is Ronaldinho Gaucho, the man looking for a place among the all-time greats. "My dream is to follow in the footsteps of the great players such as Pele, Maradona and Beckenbauer," he said in an interview.
You scored 23 goals in one game when you were just 13! Was it from that moment that you believed football would make you the happiest?
(Smiles) That was at school. I was lucky to score a lot of goals in one game and at that age it was fantastic. It was perfect because from that moment on I became very well known at school.
Carles Puyol (Barca team-mate), said because of you, happiness returned to the dressing room at the club.
Laughs. I'm a happy person and there is nothing better than to come in, train and play matches. I am always playing and joking with my team-mates... For me it's perfect.
Do you remember the last time you were sad?
Sometimes things make me sad. I am just like anyone else. Sometimes I have days when I am so not happy.
Your teammate Rodrigo Costa said the world does not know a better percussionist than you. Do you do everything well?
Ha, ha, ha! He says that because he is my friend (laughs). It's a joke, I love it.
Let's move on to the World Cup. Romario was the star of '94 and Ronaldo in '02. Will this inevitably be the third 'Ro' - Ronaldinho?
My plan is that it will be the World Cup of the Brazilian team, not me. The important thing is that Brazil win the tournament for the sixth time. That is my plan. I am not thinking about anything else.
Is it one of your aims to join that sacred group of players like Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Di Stefano...?
I want to follow in the footsteps of great players such as Pele, Maradona and Beckenbauer. I want to win the most trophies possible so that people remember me as a player who did something very important for football.
If the 'magic rectangle' (the quartet of Ronaldo, Adriano, Ronaldinho and Kaka) works and if Brazil play to their best and win the World Cup, will this be the best Brazilian team ever?
There are a lot of outstanding Brazil sides - the '70 team, the '82 side - a lot is always said about those two. Also, team in 2002. And we have a good side now too, with some great players. If we win we can join them as one of the great Brazil sides.
But will they be better than the team of 1970?
Well, people talk a lot about the team of '70 and also '82, when they didn't win but were a very special team -- a great team. The important thing is for us to win the World Cup.
What would happen in Brazil if you didn't win the World Cup?
Football is very important there and the sadness and disappointment when we don't win is out of this world.
Would not lifting the trophy classify as a failure?
For Brazilian football, finishing second is the same as finishing last. The objective is always to end up as champions.
Would you dare to say who you think will be in the final and who will win?
It's going to be difficult but I hope Brazil win the final.
What do you like most and least about football?
Well, I like everything about football, everything, everything and everything! And what I don't like is when I'm not playing (laughs). If I could always play, it would be perfect.
Imagine you had the power to make the president of FIFA (Joseph Blatter) change something in football. What would you make him change?
I don't know. For me football is perfect. It is the best there is. I think the way it is played today... it's perfect.
What do you like and dislike most about Argentina's team?
I know everyone there. They have so many great players and a lot of them play in the Spanish league. I love watching (Lionel) Messi who plays with me at Barcelona and who is very young but with so much quality. I like Argentina's technique and style.
Jose Pekerman, the Argentina coach, said that Brazil were better than all other teams. Do you see it like that?
Brazil is a team whose players have been playing together for a long time. We know each other very well. But there are other very good teams. Because of our success in the last World Cup, in the Confederations Cup and Copa America people talk about us as favourites.
But we are conscious that the moment the World Cup starts what has gone before doesn't matter.
You praised Messi recently. How far do you think he can go?
Messi is a great friend of mine and I hope he can go as far as possible because he has so much quality as a player and he is also really a very, very, good person.
Is there anything Messi does better than Ronaldinho?
Every player has his own style. I have mine and he has his. I don't like to compare but I love watching him play because he has a beautiful style.
What is it about football that reaches all parts of the world and that almost everybody wants to play or see football?
It's a passionate sport - once you play it you're hooked. I come from a country where football is one of, if not THE most important thing.
You have a son. Would you prefer him to be a footballer or rather a doctor or a lawyer or a journalist?
I would love it if he was a footballer. For a footballer it's great if your son continues in the profession. But I will give him the freedom to do whatever he really wants to do, that's for sure.
First Published: Jun 02, 2006 11:05 IST