Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, known to the soccer world
simply as Ronaldinho, is one of the most recognizable players in the world. The
Brazil star has led his club, F.C. Barcelona in Spain, to two straight La Liga
titles and last season's European Champions League crown.
Jack Bell of The New York Times spent a tightly scripted 30 minutes with
27-year-old Ronaldinho at his palatial home in Castelldefels, a holiday village
about a 20-minute drive outside Barcelona. The March 12 interview, conducted
through a Spanish interpreter, took place two days after Ronaldinho helped
10-man Barcelona tie Real Madrid, 3-3, in a pulsating match at the team's Camp
Q: The game against Real Madrid was truly an incredible experience, at least it
was for me. How important was it for you and Barcelona?
A: It was extremely important especially at this moment, when we needed some
points to stay on top of the Spanish league.
Q: Did you feel there was more pressure on you and the team in light of the
results of the past week? (In the week before the match, Barcelona had lost to
rival Sevilla and had been eliminated from the Champions League by Liverpool of
A: No, there was not more pressure. We didn't have more now than ever before,
but it was an especially important moment. We had no margin to let any points go
any more we can't fail right now because it is really important to hang on to
Q: Barca gave up the first goal against Real Madrid, but I thought it helped to
make the game more open and more exciting. How do you see it?
A: It is always complicated when you concede a goal first and you're behind. I
never felt we couldn't win. I always felt we could turn it on until last minute
and were even in a position where we could win, not just draw.
Q: You felt confident to the last minute?
A: To the last minute, yes, to the last minute. That is why we fought so hard.
It is the way we have to keep going from now on.
Q: Is it hard to stay focused and hungry after winning two straight La Liga
A: [It's] not hard to stay enthusiastic. Actually, once you have lived it once
and have feeling of winning you want it even more. You want to repeat. Yes, it
is difficult to keep playing up to that level, but you want to go back and have
the same feeling of what was achieved before.
Q: What else is there for you to accomplish in the game?
A: Actually, my goal is to conquer again titles. In what I have achieved, I have
been lucky to win a lot of most important championships. I know how magic the
moment is when you win. That is why I would like to do it again, to live it
again. Winning more is always my goal. To win as many trophies as is possible.
Q: So after winning the league title and the Champions League last season, you
went to the World Cup with Brazil and things did not turn out well. Was the
failure in Germany hard for you to deal with?
A: Yes. It was a big disappointment, especially bearing in mind that the team
met all the conditions to win the title, great players, great coach, high
expectations. Bearing that in mind, we have to learn from what happened and go
back and win it.
Q: I have been told that you are a big fan of Michael Jordan. Is that true? And
if it is, what is it about him that you find appealing?
A: Yes, I am and was a big fan. I always admired the way Michael Jordan played
basketball and when I was growing up watching his games I loved the way he
played. He took responsibility for the team always. I dreamed of being able to
bring what I saw him doing in basketball into football and do it myself, to play
soccer like he played basketball. I was able to meet him and we shook hands. It
was special for me. I felt lucky to meet him in person. I might be as well known
around the world, but it was still a really special moment for me. No doubt
about it up to this day still a fan think every kid of my generation who follows
sports has been a fan.
Q: Now like Michael Jordan, Nike has just come out with your own signature line
of gear and shoes, called 10R. How much influence and advice did you give them?
Do you like the stuff? It all has a real retro look, from the shoes to the
A: I participated almost in all aspects of the project. Nike was asking me my
opinion about the boots, how they should be done. My opinions were important
every step of the way, especially since it's my name and signature on all the
gear. I have to thank Nike because they worked to make me feel more comfortable
in what I was wearing and in how the boots turned out. I hope people around the
world feel as good about the boots as I do.
Q: And then there's the leather ball. Can you actually make that ball dance on
free kicks as much as the balls you play with during official matches?
A: To me, the ball is no different than the officials ones we play with. When I
kick the ball in my house it is no different. I play around with it with my dogs
and kick around in the yard.
Q: The past few years Barcelona has toured the United States before the start of
the Spanish season. I'm wondering what your impressions were of the football,
the country and the people.
A: I was really surprised by all the attention and especially by all the big
crowds because people have always told me that football is not popular in the
U.S. But we saw a lot of people interested and very into it. Many, many people
recognized me wherever I went. So I can only think that the game is getting
bigger in the U.S.
Q: Last season, one of your teammates, Samuel Eto'o, nearly walked off the field
in Zaragoza after being taunted by racial slurs from the fans there. How did
that incident affect you?
A: It was a terrible thing that happened, yes. But after that there were lots of
campaigns being done [by] people to combat racism and make people more aware
that these things are not acceptable. People are little by little becoming aware,
doing those things and believing those things are not the way to go. I think
some very positive things came out of the incident. At least I hope so.
Q: My wife, who is a casual soccer fan, says she loves watching you play because
you seem to be truly enjoying yourself. You have that big, big smile and play
with such joy. Where does that come from?
A: I just think each person has [their own] personality and that I'm lucky to be
doing what I like most in life - playing football. I am happy to be doing this.
It is true some people have different a character, but I have a happy
personality. The way I am, I hope I will keep being like this for many years.
Q: I have to ask you how you felt a few weeks ago when there were many articles
written in Spain saying that you had put on weight. Have you.
A: (Laughing) … Do I look fat?