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Joga Bonito

When the world football's stage had only one protagonist: Ronaldinho Gaúcho

Joga Bonito When the world football's stage had only one protagonist: Ronaldinho Gaúcho

A few week ago, we got caught by nostalgia finding out that adidas will bring back legendary Predator Mania on stores’ shelves, bringing us back in time. Wearing those was cool like putting Iron Man’s armor on, but in this case with David Beckham’s lineaments. This made us thought about all the shoes that, in the last few decades, were able to conquer our hearts, not only for their look but mainly for being connected with a particular player. Sure, this also happens today, but the fact that major brands release player-branded shoes every few week makes it all less fascinating. In 2005, however, all this was new. Big time.

In those years, when the two current stars yet had to rise and many of the old ones were about to fade, the were no doubt about who was the main character of European football’s stage. Different nationality than Messi, Brazilian instead of Argentinian, but same shirt, Barcelona’s. Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, better known as Ronaldinho, was charming the whole world with his fairy foot, his nimble moves and unique skills with the football. What he did on the field used to amaze both rivals and teammates. It was unavoidable, then, that his name figures beside a big sports brand’s one. In this case, the fastest to conquer the Brazilian champions were the guys from Nike which, even if they didn’t know at the time, were about to score one of the biggest signings in the history of the company. 

While Ronaldinho was leaving the Bernabeu with a standing ovation from merengues’ fan after a legendary goal against Real Madrid, Nike was about to launch on the market the first player-branded shoes in modern football’s history. In 2005, when Dinho won his first and last Ballon d’Or, Nike launched Air Legend R10, forefather of the actual Tiempo, in white and gold, to celebrate the Brazilian champion. It a pair of shoes destined to became legendary.

The partnership between Nike and Ronaldinho was more than just football boots, more than a television slogan, it became what we can call a philosophy: “Joga Bonito”. It recalled the distinctive traits of Dinho’s game, made of magic tricks, nutmegs, elastics, wonderful goals and the typical “hang loose” celebration. In fact, the films that Nike realized with the Brazilian were the first ever to become viral. The most famous was without any doubt the one with Ronaldinho receiving his Air Legend, wearing them, starting to bounce the ball and then hitting the crossbar for four times in a row without dropping the ball on the ground. Authentic or not (many people was suspicious about some graphical “help”), it becomes the first video ever to reach 1 million views on YouTube.

Sadly for Ronaldinho (and Nike), the blaugrana’s number 10’s career took a bad turn, taking him to fade within few years, first at AC Milan and then in some Brazilian clubs like Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro and Fluminense. In all his path, Nike continued to go with Dinho, making shoes with his firm, inviting him to some events and pushing his candidacy as Barcelona’s world ambassador. One this is certain, though. Even if his Joga Bonito has faded, the R10 legend is going to remain untouched in millions of hearts and souls, conquered for ever by the Brazilian. Among many other things, he opened the doors to the mayor football players-brands partnerships. The umpteenth dream realized for us by Ronaldinho Gaúcho. Obrigados.