Thursday, August 4, 2016

4 August 2001 - Ronaldinho Makes His French Connection

On 4 August 2001, young Brazilian star Ronaldinho made his first appearance for PSG after surprising the world with his decision to move to the Paris club.

The attacking midfielder began his career with Grêmio in 1998 and joined Brazil's national team one year later. As good as he was for his club (72 goals in 145 appearances), he attracted a great deal of attention for his international play in the 1999 Copa America and Confederations Cup tournaments. Clubs such as Arsenal, Lazio, Barcelona, and Milan tried to sign him, but he shocked them all by signing with PSG in January 2001, agreeing to a five-year contract worth £5 million. Those clubs weren't the only ones surprised; Grêmio's president claimed to have learned of the deal from PSG's website.

Ronaldinho's first appearance was modest; he came on as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Auxerre. But in two seasons there, he scored 25 goals and provided 18 assists in 86 appearances and also won the 2001 Intertoto Cup.

After the 2002-03 season, Barcelona finally got their man, signing him for €30 million. Milan eventually got him, too, when he left Barcelona in 2008. He returned to Brazil in 2011 and played for four different clubs over the next four years.