The 32 year old Ronaldinho marked his 100th appearance for Brazil, and the return from his one-year absence in the international friendly against England, but came up short with a 2-1 loss and the romanticized return of the Brazilian protagonist was cut short with a half-time substitution.
To make matters worse, Ronaldinho missed a penalty in the 19th minute, kicking a limp right grounder to Joe Hart, who dived the right way. That pretty much summed up his night as he was muted and ineffective throughout the whole game(45 mins for him though).
(Check out the Brazilian Beer Belly- 0:16)
I guess to any football fan who watched this game, the inevitable question would be: "what the hell happened to him?"
11 years ago, a young Ronaldinho announced his arrival on the world stage with a stunning free-kick winner against England in the World Cup. Thereafter, Ronaldinho took the world by storm. His play mesmerized and captivated, not only entertaining the masses but winning trophies too. The two-time player of the year seemed to have the world at his feet.
Some say it was his 2008 move to Milan: " He should have never left Barca". While others blamed it on his partying lifestyle. Still others justified his decline with the numerous injuries he accumulated and his deteriorating physical fitness. To defend him, groups of die-hard fans clamoured: "he just got bored".
What's hard to justify, is the relation between his age and his fitness. At 32, the average football player will still be doing fine physically, able to start and finish whole 90 minute games, much less an elite player who played for a world class club.
As sad as it is, the reign of Ronaldinho is long over and the flashes of brilliance, over-head kicks, cheeky backheels, no-look passes and mesmerizing stepovers have dried up. The only thing we can do, is hope that the football superstars of this generation do not follow in his footsteps and have long, fruitful careers.
Goodbye Ronaldinho, I will always remember the time you did this: