Sunday, 4 February 2018

An Extraordinary Debut for an Extraordinary Player

by Sudeep Ghosh

Ronaldinho, one of the greatest football players of all time, has now officially announced his retirement. In a hugely successful career, he was able to become a two-time FIFA World Player of the Year (2004 and 2005) and lifted the World Cup trophy in 2002.

Born in Brazil, he moved to France in 2001, to play for Paris Saint-Germain. He quickly attracted the attention of the world after winning the 2002 World Cup, and received offers from Manchester United and a struggling Barcelona side. He opted for the latter, in a move that would soon help him become the best player in the world.

However, his illustrious career often shadows his strange beginning at Barcelona FC. After he won his first match, the world was excited to see his debut match at Barcelona’s renowned home stadium, Camp Nou - the largest stadium in Europe. Unfortunately, his debut coincided with his match for his national side, Brazil. As both matches were to be played on Wednesday evening, Barcelona desperately tried to move the game to Tuesday night. However, Sevilla FC, their opponent, were adamant that the game be played on Wednesday - hoping to play against a weakened Barcelona side.

Barcelona finally agreed to play on Wednesday. However, in a cunning plan, the Barcelona President revealed that the match was to played on Wednesday at 0:05 a.m, meaning that Ronaldinho would be able to play for his club as well as his country. This meant that Barcelona were now faced with another problem - keeping the crowd awake until midnight.

So how do you keep a crowd entertained for that amount of time?
Firstly, the iconic Barcelona FC Museum was kept open all night. There was also an ample amount of entertainment for the children, with a show including mascots and cartoon characters. Unfortunately, this was not enough to satisfy the impatient spectators. In a desperate attempt to keep fans entertained (and awake for that matter!), Barcelona FC employees decided to flood the stadium with an abundance of free snacks. These included 25,000 free bags of Doritos with salsa, 30,000 Actimel yogurts, 100,000 KitKats, 40,000 portions of Gazpacho (a type of Spanish soup), and enough chorizo for the whole crowd.

Everyone seemed pleased with this arrangement, with the exception of the Sevilla manager, who stated, in a bizarre rant, that, “Gazpacho can repeat on you if you eat it at night”.

At last, the world was ready to see the much anticipated debut of the young Brazilian. All the effort would be wasted, had Ronaldinho not delivered. Luckily, this was not the case. Ronaldinho, always energetic, despite the time nearing 01:30 a.m, proceeded to effortlessly skip past two Sevilla defenders before smashing a 30 yard screamer, in what many critics agree to be the best goal of his career. Camp Nou erupted with deafening and thunderous noise (possibly to the annoyance of Barcelona locals who were trying to sleep!)  Barcelona fans went home satisfied and reassured (albeit tired) for their club’s future, knowing that they had witnessed the start of something beautiful.

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