- What is not up for debate - however - is his contribution to football, and especially when he was in his prime
- Ronaldinho’s journey from a modest background Porto Alegre to one of the most skilful footballers of all time is in itself a great inspiration
- Ronaldinho is one of only four Brazilians to have been named the world’s best footballer in the awards' 68-year history, the others being Kaka, Ronaldo and Rivaldo
Ronaldo de Assis Moreira still wears that signature smile he donned for most spells of what turned out to be a successful football career spanning 17 years.
But despite that infectious smile, this tall and medium built chap, commonly referred to as Ronaldinho Gaucho in football circles – thanks to a strange habit by Brazilian stars to switch names – is a shy and reserved man when you interact with him.
I arrived at this conclusion after recently accompanying him during his recent three-day working trip in Kenya.
What is not up for debate - however - is his contribution to football, and especially when he was in his prime.
So much that the 38-year-old is considered one of the most talented footballers to have played the game professionally.
Many a time, he has been mentioned in the same breath as compatriot Edson Arantes do Nascimento aka Pele and Argentina’s Diego Armando Maradona.
Ronaldinho was born in the city of Porto Alegre in his native Brazil to a ship worker and nurse.
He dribbled his way into Spanish football history when he became one of only two players to ever be applauded by opposing supporters at the Santiago Bernabeu, home of arch rivals Real Madrid, while playing for Barcelona. On the day, he inspired Barca to an easy 3-0 win. His display was quite something that even the biased Madridistas had to swallow their pride and appreciate the marvel they had been treated to.
Fast forward, and it’s now three years since he quit competitive football, after turning out for some of the biggest clubs in the world including France's Paris Saint Germain (PSG), Barcelona and AC Milan.
That said, Ronaldinho’s journey from a modest background Porto Alegre to one of the most skilful footballers of all time is in itself a great inspiration.
Importantly, his lifetime lessons best highlight what most Kenyan footballers have so far failed to master.
That it’s very possible for a professional footballer to live a successful life after retirement.
"When I come here, I want to share what I have, what I experienced on the pitch and what I know about football to those who wish to learn and improve. From a small group or even a hundred players, hopefully, a few or even all can learn the game and become successful," he explained, in his first press conference.
And while at it, the attention Ronaldinho received during his visit to Kenya is worth a mention.
Put simply, the man remains a fan favourite in Kenya as he still is all over the world, with most of his fans all too keen to appreciate his contribution to the sport.
This could be why conservative estimates suggest he still rakes in up to Sh100 million annually from endorsement deals, advertisements and sale of his image rights.
His visit to Kenya, for instance, coincided with his latest endorsement deal installing him as betting firm Betika brand ambassador alongside media personality Carol Radull.