Ronaldinho has spoken out about his friendship with Lionel Messi, in an interview published by Panenka. The two coincided at Barça towards the end of the 2000s, when Ronaldinho was an established star and Messi was an up-and-comer.
“When I arrived at Barcelona, there was already talk of a kid who stood out,” Ronaldinho recalls.
”Then we were friends; we started playing together and we got on very well. He arrived being different to all the others, and we spoke with [Frank] Rijkaard so that he came to train with us - it was all very fast.”
Ronaldinho assisted Messi’s first goal with a chipped pass.
”I was lucky enough to give him the pass for his first goal,” the Brazilian recalls.
”Over time, it’s very nice to see someone who starts out so close [to you] and then conquers the world. We were always very close. We learned things, he taught me Spanish and I taught him Portuguese, but with the ball we understood each other perfectly.
”I’d be left amazed by how calm he is. That’s something I love about him; he never gets into trouble, he’s always with his family and those closest to him.
”Leo has everything, he didn’t need anything from me.”
Ronaldinho recalls his time at Barça fondly. He won everything with the Catalans and was the undisputed best player in the world for a time.
“From the first game, it was all a joy,” he stated.
”There are a lot of memories. I think I arrived with thousands of people waiting for me in the stadium.”
The Brazilian legend also had words of praise for his manager at Barcelona, Rijkaard:
”He’s a great coach, a very quiet guy, the best I’ve ever worked with,” Ronaldinho said.
”He knew everything because he played at the highest level, and that made things easy for us. Everything he asked us to do, he has already done it before, so he spoke to us in a very simple and direct way. He gave me a lot of freedom to play my football. When we didn’t have the ball, we also had to fulfill our obligations. But when we had it, he made me feel completely free.”