There were lots of famous players performing for their country in the World Cup. There were plenty of skilled players, but how many of them transcended the fame that skill brings to become true heroes?
One man who impressed me regularly was Brazil’s Ronaldinho. He is widely regarded as the best footballer in the world, yet doesn’t seem to let it go to his head. A number of pre-World Cup events showed his down-to-earth nature.
He spoke at length about the Australian team – one of Brazil’s opponents in the group stage. Australia has not been in a World Cup since 1974, yet Ronaldinho found specific praise for them. This in contrast to his team-mate, Ronaldo, who claimed to say he didn’t know of any Australian players. There is very little reason for the best player in the world to know about Australia’s football. Ronaldinho pays more attention than he needs to.
He was involved in a practice match near Frankfurt when a young boy ran onto the pitch. The security men there dealt with the boy in what was described as an overly rough fashion. Ronaldinho saw this and ran over to sign the boy’s shirt as he was being dragged back to the stands. The other players were well within expectations to ignore the boy. Ronaldinho exceeded expectations.
He has also shown plenty of humility. He recently claimed that he was not the best player in the world and quickly listed a number of players who should be considered. He admits he needs improvement. This on top of regular charity work around the world.
This is a man to watch for his serene skills, but also for his superb character.