RIO DE JANEIRO - Over 40,000 Flamengo fans
packed the Enganhao stadium on Wednesday to greet Ronaldinho on
his debut for the club with a mosaic that said "Welcome R10."
In his first match for a Brazilian club for 10 years,
Ronaldinho led Brazil's most popular team out as their new
captain for a Carioca (Rio) state championship match against
Nova Iguacu that Flamengo won 1-0.
Ronaldinho, twice FIFA World Player of the Year in his
prime at Barcelona in the mid-2000s, brought a save from
visiting goalkeeper Diogo Silva with a free kick and was part
of some slick moves.
Nova Iguacu proved tough opponents, though, and Flamengo
had to wait until four minutes from time to score through
"After so long without playing, I need to get rhythm, adapt
to my team mates whom I have never played with," Ronaldinho
told reporters. "I have nothing but thanks for my team mates
who received me with open arms and these marvelous fans.
"It's one of the happiest days of my life," the 30-year-old
added amid the party atmosphere in the ground where Rio's major
matches are being played while the Maracana undergoes 2014
World Cup refurbishments.
The former Barcelona and AC Milan midfielder signed with
Flamengo last month to and rediscover his best form at home
with an eye on a place in Brazil coach Mano Menezes's 2014
World Cup side.
Ronaldinho, who began his career in southern Brazil with
Gremio before a first European move to Paris St Germain, won
the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and also played at the 2006
finals but was overlooked for last year's tournament in South
Africa due to his indifferent form at Milan.
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