Former world football star Ronaldinho is in Belgium for a gala match between La Gantoise and Standard this Wednesday. The world champion and Brazilian Golden Ball confided in HLN about his career, this famous Belgium-Brazil in 2002 and the Red Devils. “I always put them on the same level as Brazil,” he said.
This Wednesday evening, Ronaldinho, iconic player of the 21st century, will be the guest of honor at the gala match, called “Circus Cup”, between La Gantoise and Standard at the Ghelamco Arena. The 42-year-old Brazilian recently became the new face of the online gaming site “Circus”, which sponsors the two Belgian clubs.
A few months ago, the former PSG, Barca and Milan player was the subject of controversy after he was arrested in Paraguay with a fake passport. He even spent several weeks in prison with his brother, but he is enjoying life to the full again. “I travel pretty much all over the world. It’s an honor to be in Belgium,” said the Brazilian in an interview with HLN.
Ronaldinho at Sclessin
Ronaldinho arrived in Sclessin this Tuesday at the start of the afternoon, after visiting the Robert Louis-Dreyfus Academy. This Wednesday, he will do the same in Ghent before putting on his crampons for the match. “Playing football is like riding a bicycle,” said Ronaldinho, who also devotes himself to music and has created a few football schools in his country. “We don’t forget that. Although, of course, the physical aspect plays a role. Physically, I’m not as sharp as I used to be, but when I have the ball at my feet, it still feels very natural. I still play football quite often, mostly at events like this or at charity games.
The Brazilian superstar ended his impressive career in 2018. Between 2001 and 2011, Ronaldinho was one of the best footballers of his generation, with an illustrious track record that is the best proof of that. He won the Ballon d’Or in 2005. In 2006 he won the Champions League with FC Barcelona. Besides, the Brazilian midfielder was twice champion with Barca (2005 and 2006) and was Italian champion with AC Milan in 2011.
“Of course it’s a foul. It’s clear!”
Ronaldinho crossed paths with the Red Devils only once in his career, in 2002, in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. This match has remained etched in our collective football memory as “the Prendergast match”. The Jamaican referee disallowed Marc Wilmots’ first goal for an imaginary foul. “I remember that game very well. It was my very first World Cup with Brazil,” says Ronaldinho, watching the action in question on a phone. “Of course it’s a foul. It’s clear!”, he says, bursting out laughing.
“I understand your sadness, but for me personally this World Cup is perhaps the best memory of my football career. Likewise, the titles with Barcelona and Milan and the Champions League will remain in my memory forever. But becoming world champion was a childhood dream come true for me,” he added.
Courtois and De Bruyne
Four years ago, the Red Devils took their revenge on Brazil. The Selecao was taken out of the World Cup in Russia in the quarter-finals after a great match for Belgium. “You made the whole Brazilian nation sad at that time, we really believed that we could become world champions again. But we have a lot of respect for the performance of the Belgian team, you were better that day”, says “Roni”.
Four years later, Ronaldinho believes that Belgium and Brazil are still teams of equal quality. “Courtesy, De Bruyne… you still have some of the best players in the world. So why couldn’t you become world champions in Qatar? In such an important tournament, it is often the details that decide wins and losses.”
A game of legends
Ronaldinho is still popular in Belgium. More than 17,000 free tickets for Wednesday night’s match have been awarded. Many legends from both clubs will be present for this match. On the Buffalo side, there will be Gunther Schepens, Vital Borkelmans, Nicolas Lombaerts and Mido, among others. The Ghent team will be coached by Hein Vanhaezebrouck. At the Rouches, Mehdi Carcela, Jelle Van Damme, Mbo Mpenza and Jonathan Legear will be on the pitch, trained by the former German player and coach of Standard, Helmut Graf. Guy Vandersmissen will officiate as T2.
The match will last twice 30 minutes and the Brazilian will play 20 minutes per half, once in each camp. “We will try to give people a great night. I’m here to entertain the fans,” said the star of the day. Joga Bonito at Ghelamco.
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