Ronaldinho only played one Indian Premier Futsal League match in 2016 – and he was sleeping in the parking lot moments before kick-off.
But that didn’t stop the enigmatic Brazilian legend from scoring five goals for Goa in a 7-2 win over a Bengaluru side with Paul Scholes and Hernan Crespo.
The former Barcelona star joined a host of legends including Scholes’ Man United icon Ryan Giggs as India tried to start a futsal craze in 2016 – they even invited our own Sam Matterface to describe the action.
Featuring a smaller and slightly heavier soccer ball and played indoors in teams of five, futsal emphasizes improvisation and creativity.
Pelé and Lionel Messi are just some of the many greats in the game to play in their youth – and you can imagine that Ronaldinho, one of football’s greatest artists of all time, would be pretty good at it.
So good, in fact, he was able to afford a nap, dressed in full gear, as his Goa teammates warmed up for their 2016 tournament opener in Chennai.
Matterface remembers a desperate search for the Ballon d’Or winner and someone had to knock on their car window before they made it to the arena and scored five goals.
It was his only game of the tournament as Brazil called Ronaldinho home to work as Paralympic Games ambassador in Rio that year. He was replaced by his compatriot World Cup winner Cafu.
But despite the brief appearance, it was still his tournament. If the objectives are good, Matterface on the comments is even better …
The talkSPORT man recalls: “We went to India to do this Premier Futsal tournament – it was absolutely crazy.
“Oh my word… well, he only played one game. They paid him a huge amount of money to come and play for a certain number of minutes
the course of group games. Cafu then took it over – not a bad replacement!
“He came and played for one game, scored five goals – went viral, like literally went viral – then left… that was it. He had finished. I think he stayed for one of the party nights – in fact, I’m pretty sure he stayed for one of the party nights.
“But to get him to play this game, everyone was panicking because he was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t the most elegant and organized event – to put it that way.
“So where was Ronaldinho?” Everyone was in the locker room asking where he was. Well, he was in a car in a parking lot taking a nap.
“Someone knocked on the window asking, ‘Can you come in?’
“He was literally in his gear, got out of the car, walked into the arena, scored five goals, walked away – that was it. It was amazing. He was of an absolutely different class. It was a wonderful tournament.