Ronaldinho can still score jaw-dropping goals and make his fans do crazy things — even when those fans are on the other team.
On Wednesday, the eyes of the world were once again on the Brazilian soccer star, as his team, Atletico Mineiro, faced Raja Casablanca in the semifinals of the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup. Hosts Casablanca booted Mineiro out of the tournament with a 3-1 upset victory, but Ronaldinho disappointed neither his friends nor his foes on the world stage.
It came as little surprise when the 33-year-old curled home a free-kick in the 63rd minute to tie the game at 1-1. After all, he’s done so time and time again during his illustrious career.
What happened once the Moroccans victory over Ronaldinho and the South American champions was confirmed was the real surprise. During the jubilant postgame celebration, a few Casablanca players mobbed Ronaldinho. They hugged him, kissed him, shook his hands and asked for souvenirs.
The hero worship makes sense, as many Casablanca players probably enjoyed watching him when he was in his prime. Ronaldinho, a 2002 FIFA World Cup winner and two-time FIFA World Player of the Year (in 2004-05), obliged, giving his No. 10 jersey and even his game-worn cleats to his grateful hosts. The whole scene was delightfully shocking, considering the loss will probably prevent Ronaldinho from winning another major international trophy before he retires.
Casablanca will face European champion Bayern Munich on Saturday for the world championship. Mineiro plays Guangzhou Evergrande that same day in the third-place game.
Ronaldinho hopes to make Brazil’s squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup but he is, at best, a long-shot. If this is truly is his last appearance on the global stage, it’s a great way for a legend to exit.
See Ronaldinho’s curling free-kick goal in the video below.
Ronaldinho gives Raja Casablanca players his shirt and shoes in the video below.
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