Former Manchester United winger Quentin Fortune has revealed that the gloomy Mancunian weather stopped Ronaldinho from moving to Old Trafford in 2003.
The Brazilian, who had broken English hearts at the World Cup just a year before, held talks with Man United over a potential move when he was with Paris Saint Germain.
Barcelona ultimately swooped in to secure the winger’s services for a fee of €30m and he went on to score 94 goals, win two La Liga titles and claim a Champions League winner’s medal at the Nou Camp.
But Fortune recently revealed that things could of turned out differently if Manchester wasn’t, for just once, p*ssing with rain during his visit.
“I think we got it wrong by bringing Ronaldinho in at the wrong time of year as it was raining that day he arrived at Manchester Airport,” he said.
“Maybe it was summer anyway but, if we’d have timed it with the right day, it could have been a different story.
“It would have been absolutely amazing to have him here. He’s one of the greatest players ever to play football and entertained with his skill, fun and joy.
“He brought it all and it will be a great occasion for everyone to play against him and watch him. I was very fortunate to play for South Africa against him in the Olympics in front of 72,000 fans but, when he was at Barcelona, he was a different Ronaldinho so I’m hoping we get a glimpse of that and I hope I won’t have to mark him!”
Being born in 1998, Ronaldinho was the reason I fell in love with football. And I’m sure that such is also the case with many of you. We all tried – and failed miserably – to be Ronaldinho in our back gardens at some point.
The Brazilian’s approach to the beautiful game espoused a maxim of enjoying football for football’s sake that I have, even to this day, always lived by and extended to other walks of life in the process.
His approach was simple, joyful and completely accessible: to relish in the freedom that comes with having the ball at your feet and to not abstract things any further than that. No specific goals or targets. Just enjoy, laugh and smile, absorbing yourself in the process of what you are doing.
This is indeed what is meant by Jogo Bonito, and there were no better exponents of the practice than Ronaldinho: he conveyed a sense of unadulterated freedom, both on and off the pitch, that isolated him from the frantic vicissitudes of western life.
This attitude is what made Ronaldinho one of the greatest talents of our generation, and it’s a mindset that this country has never understood – and for that reason alone I am almost glad he never did have to weather the frosty, overly militant culture of English football.