Brazil Part 1 – The Brazilian Life

In light of the 2014 World Cup, a Brazil three-part special is on the cards.  Part one will be looking at Brazilian players specifically, part two will look at the national side and their current set up, how it has changed and how it will fair in their own nation next year.  Finally, part three, will look at the dazzling Neymar, and if he really is the wonder kid that can live up to the hype.

So part one.  After identifying a common theme among most Brazilians I decided to investigate further.  It is something which has always been there, but it was first drawn to everyone’s attention on a larger scale with the move of Ronaldinho.

It’s fair to say that Ronaldinho made his mark not only in Europe but around the world.  Blasting onto the stage in the 2002 World Cup, everyone knew who he was by the time his free-kick dipped over David Seaman and hit the back of the net.  At this point, Ronaldinho was already playing in Europe for Paris Saint-Germain, which was his first club after boyhood Brazilian team Gremio.  Soon after the World Cup, where Brazil won and Ronaldinho had bagged himself two goals, he moved to Barcelona in a €30million deal.  This is truly where he shined and in his time at Barcelona Ronaldinho scored 70 goals in 145 games.  He also won one Ballon D’or and two FIFA World Player of the Year titles.

Ronaldinho summed up what Brazilian football was all about, he played with flair and his footwork was the best the world had seen.  After spending five years at the club and stating they were the ‘best of his life’, Ronaldinho took on a new challenge at AC Milan.  Unfortunately he wasn’t as prolific with a return of 20 goals in 76 games, but he still showed signs of that footwork mastery we’d become accustomed to.

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After two seasons, Ronaldinho and AC Milan parted company – alerting a number of other clubs to his availability.  However it was Brazil that he chose, in the form of Flamengo, something which meant, no more Champions League, no more Europa League and no more big big money.  At the time, this baffled quite a lot of people, why would you go back over there, when the better football is here?  But is it that or is it because we don’t know enough on the Brazilian league and set up?  I believe it is the latter, undoubtedly Europe is far bigger with the likes of many nations coming together and playing in the Champions League, however Brazil does hold a certain footballing quality unseen anywhere else in the world.

Ronaldinho went back home to play football, he wanted to go back where it all started and bring back the quality.  As well as guaranteed play he would enjoy a better quality of life.  It becomes a lot clearer when Ronaldinho stated at the time of his move to Flamengo, that he did it to get back in the squad for the 2014 World Cup.  Although he is playing in a league with less quality, if he can prove himself to be the player he once was, it wouldn’t matter what league he is in.  Still, playing in Brazil for Atletico Mineiro, Ronaldinho has found some form and has won a place back in the national side.

A childhood dream for most players is playing in a World Cup, playing in a World Cup on your home soil is even more special.  No doubt this will be Ronaldinho’s last World Cup and he will go on to retire in Brazil.  And this is a common theme.  Many Brazilian players starting off their career in Brazil and making their mark in Europe, have all since gone back to Brazil to the end of their playing days.

Ronaldinho is just one case, but here is a starting 11 of Brazilian internationals that ended their playing days where the started:

Dida (Brazil 91 Caps, AC Milan 206 Apps)

Juan (Brazil 79 Caps, Bayer Leverkusen 169 Apps, Roma 117 Apps)

Josue (Brazil 28 Caps, VfL Wolfsburg 140 Apps)

Lucio (Brazil 105 Caps, Bayern Munich 144 Apps, Inter Milan 96 Apps)

Gilberto Silva (Brazil 93 Caps, Arsenal 170 Apps, Panathinaikos 78 Apps)

Kleberson (Brazil 32 Caps, Manchester United 20 Apps, Besiktas 45 Apps)

Elano (Brazil 50 Caps, Shakhtar Donetsk 40 Apps, Manchester City 62 Apps, Galatasaray 33 Apps)

Rivaldo (Brazil 74 Caps, Deportivo La Coruna 41 Apps, Barcelona 157 Apps, AC Milan 22 Apps, Olympiacos 70 Apps)

Ronaldinho (Brazil 97 Caps, Paris Saint-Germain 55 Apps, Barcelona 145 Apps, AC Milan 76 Apps)

Ronaldo (Brazil 98 Caps, PSV Eindhoven 46 Apps, Barcelona 37 Apps, Inter Milan 68 Apps, Real Madrid 127 Apps, AC Milan 20 Apps)

Luis Fabiano (Brazil 45 Caps, Porto 22 Apps, Sevilla 149 Apps)

All of these players made a decent impact in European football, the three R’s in there being the most noticeable.  All of them retired or still play within the Brazilian league.  It may surprise many people to learn that in fact Rivaldo still plays on at the age of 41 for Brazilian side Sao Caetano.  He’s scored twice so far in 2013.

Whether it be a lifestyle choice or a bid to regain the passion of football, nothing beats the essence of home for most Brazilian players.  This could arguably be fanned out as a South American trend, if we look at Carlos Tevez,  who by all means, could play for most clubs in the world, but wanted to move back to South America.  Corinthians nearly had a deal in the bag, before it was scuppered at the last minute.  Tevez was desperate to re-unite with his family and spend time with them, he even left the country for three months to try and force a move and be alongside his family.

The greatest player that ever breathed, Pele, never left Brazil until his final two playing years.  He played for Santos for a total of 18 years never once going to Europe.  Argentine legend Diego Maradona started and ended his playing career in Argentina, while having a stint in Europe.  There is definitely a theme not many can deny that, all for different reasons.  Most of all, the football league in Brazil is bigger than we may think, and this, is where we are having our next World Cup.

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