Former Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho shows his footprints, next to the Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel (R), to be included in the Maracana’s hall of fame. (Source: Reuters)Former Brazil international and star midfielder Ronaldinho has joined the hall of fame of Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana stadium. 2002 World Cup winner and 2006 Champions League winner with FC Barcelona was bestowed the honour on Tuesday. With the footprint mark, he has joined the likes of Pele, Garrincha, Zico and other Brazilian greats who also have prints in the stadium’s hall of fame.
“This is one of the greatest achievements of my career,” an emotional Ronaldinho said at the ceremony.
Ronaldinho had received the initial invitation to leave his prints in 2011, but had put it off due to a busy schedule, he said. The Brazilian played for local giants Flamengo for two years (2011 and 2012), but did not win any trophies during that spell. Considered one of the best midfielders at one time, he was awarded the Ballon d’Or as Europe’s best player in 2005 and finally retired in January 2018, seven years after returning to his native Brazil.
The tribute comes during troubled times for the Brazilian, who had his passport seized by the police in November. The decision is related to a $2.5 million fine for damaging the environment while having a property built on a lake in a conservation area. He did not take questions on the topic at the ceremony.
The 38-year-old was discovered in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, where he was born. He then went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, and at Brazilian teams Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro and Fluminense, as well as spending a year with Mexico’s Queretaro.