Ronaldinho: 'Messi's a great man – he has lots left to give'

Former Barcelona forward Ronaldinho talks to about his "brother" Lionel Messi, lining up alongside his idols and always playing with a smile on his face.

Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho
Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho ©Getty Images

Whether it was his beaming smile or his elástico stepover, Ronaldinho is one of the most recognisable figures in recent European football history. The epitome of cool, the former Paris, Barcelona and Milan forward dazzled crowds of more than 40,000 when he brought down the curtain on the 2017 edition of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by Heineken, in numerous cities across football-mad Vietnam. While he was at it, he sat down for an exclusive chat with

Ronaldinho on ... childhood idols
Football has always been my life, ever since I was a child. I come from a family of footballers, so my whole life revolved around the sport. I actually had the pleasure of playing with a lot of my idols later on.

I looked up to lots of players, the likes of Maradona and Zidane, who were from different countries. Then there was Ronaldo, Romário, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and Cafu. I feel blessed because I've had the privilege of meeting my idols, and even playing with some of them.

Ronaldinho on ... joining Barcelona
It was another dream come true. All players of my age dreamt of playing for Barcelona and myself even more so because my heroes played there. As fans we always try to follow in our heroes' footsteps. So, more than just bringing me joy, it was the fulfilment of my biggest dream.

2006 final highlights: Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal
2006 final highlights: Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal

Ronaldinho on ... winning the Champions League
It's a tournament every player wants to be involved in. I was lucky enough to feature in it a fair few times and to win it once, so it always brings me great pleasure to talk about the Champions League.

Lifting the trophy in 2006 was very important, because it had been 14 years since Barça had won it. I think not only me but all my team-mates have gone down in club history because we blazed a trail for a glorious new generation at Barcelona.

Ronaldinho on ... Lionel Messi
It's a wonderful story. I feel very proud to have been part of the beginning of this incredible story. He's on the verge of 500 [competitive] goals for the club, and my pass set up the first of them. I played a part from the beginning.

He's a great friend of mine, he's like a brother; he's a great man. It's wonderful to see everything he's achieved – and he still has lots left to give.

Five great goal celebrations, featuring Ronaldinho
Five great goal celebrations, featuring Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho on ... always playing with a smile
I've always had a very clear vision of what I wanted. God gave me the gift of playing football, which is what I love the most, so I always tried to enjoy it to the full. Even if things weren't going well, I never believed I had the right to complain or get irritated, so I tried to enjoy it as much as possible the entire time.

Ronaldinho on ... being afforded a standing ovation at the Bernabéu
It's an incredible memory! Everywhere I go, everyone remembers that match, that moment, so it's very special. Very few players have had that pleasure, and it happened to me, so it's one more moment for the history books.