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20th Jul 2016

This masterful Ronaldinho performance was his last in the Indian Futsal League

Cafu will replace him.

Simon Lloyd

It’s over a decade since Ronaldinho was at the peak of his powers at Barcelona, but as this performance shows, there’s life in the old dog yet.

Don’t get us wrong, the Indian Futsal League is a far cry from El Clasicos and the Champions League final he played in back in his prime, but his five-goal haul for Goa in the game against Paul Scholes’ Bengaluru was a reminder that the Brazilian is still a joy to behold when he’s got a ball at his feet.

Ronaldinho, who hasn’t officially retired from the 11-a-side format of the game, had helped himself to a hat-trick before the match had reached its halfway point and added two more before time was up.

His fourth was arguably the best of the lot. With the Bengaluru goalkeeper up for a corner, Goa gained possession and quickly found Ronaldinho in space in their opposition’s half. With one defender to beat, the 36-year-old nonchalantly dinked the ball over his head and into the vacant goal.

But unfortunately, that appears to be the end of Ronaldinho’s Indian adventure.

Days later, it was announced that he would return to Brazil to take up the role of brand ambassador at Rio de Janerio’s Paralympic Games.

“Unfortunately, just when I was getting in my groove and getting to know the country better, I have to go back, as my country needs me,” he said in a statement reported by Gazetta World.

“The para-Olympics committee has honoured me to be their ambassador, which requires me to be in Brazil.

“I was looking forward towards being in Goa, but I learnt only yesterday of this development. I am delighted to spend these days in your beautiful country and promote the game I grew up playing.”

Ronaldinho will be replaced by Cafu, his former teammate in Brazil’s glorious 2002 World Cup campaign.