Deco, 41, has played with some of the most iconic figures in world football, including former Portugal teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, but the ex-Chelsea midfielder insists there is no-one better than the “magical” Ronaldinho.
Ronaldinho’s influence at the Camp Nou. Five things to know…
- Ronaldinho joined Barcelona in 2003 after the Catalan club outbid Manchester United for his signature.
- He went on to net 22 goals in 45 appearances during his inaugural season, including the illustrious Sevilla goal where he dribbled from his own half before firing a 30 yard strike into the back net.
- Played a focal role as the Blaugrana ended their six-year wait for a La Liga title in 2005 and played an equally influential role as they retained the trophy the following season.
- Scored crucial goals as Barca clinched the Champions League title in 2006, their first since 1992 and also won the Ballon d’Or in 2005.
- Renowned for his set-piece ability, the Brazilian has still scored more free-kicks than Messi to date.
Deco and Ronaldinho were teammates during that remarkable European victory against Arsenal in 2006, and despite Messi and Ronaldo clinching the Ballon d’Or for the past decade, Deco has no doubt in his mind that the 2002 World Cup winner is the greatest.
“From the outset, it is clear that Leo and Cristiano are the greatest,” the Portuguese star told AS.
“Especially because no one thought they could take so many years to this level, but the one that impressed me most despite not being so decisive was Ronnie.
“For me, he will always be the best.”
Deco’s “magical” bond with Ronaldinho
Despite being 37 at the time, the football world was shocked when Ronaldinho decided to hang up his boots earlier this year, bringing an end to a trophy-laden career that spanned over two decades.
Ronaldinho made 728 club appearances across his career, scoring 313 goals, and his announcement came three years after his last professional match for Fluminese in his homeland.
Deco, who won the Premier League title with Chelsea and a Champions League trophy with Porto, conceded that his best years were during his time spent playing alongside the Brazilian marvel.
He added: “We met in Barcelona and immediately connected with him, the moments I lived with him are difficult to compare to anything. It was magical.”