He was a kid playing for Gremio, and Dunga was Brazil’s captain general. The youngster’s legs did not tremble as he faced one of the greatest defenders in his country’s history and did the unthinkable. But not just once. They were two the dribbles, two images that Ronaldinho left in the memory of soccer forever in that Gaucho championship of 1999.
That day Ronaldihno was crowned and Dunga gave up.
Ronnie was 19 years old and scored two goals to lead his team to the Brazilian championship. It was the beginning of one Brazilian legend and the last minutes of another. A story that had its revenge 11 years later.
Gremio reached the final of that championship, beating all their rivals. In the first two rounds they won 13 out of 16 matches and were the best team in the whole tournament. The Brazilian team was led by rising star Ronaldo de Assis Moreira “Ronaldinho” who scored 15 goals and was named the tournament’s best player and top scorer. The Brazilian star was in his early twenties and already dominating the Brazilian top flight.
Ronaldinho was from the seven years until the twenty-one in Gremio before making the leap to Europe but this Gaucho championship was his letter of introduction to world football: that final against the International of Dunga, captain of the historic Brazil that won the World Cup in the United States, which was decided in the third game with a goal from Ronnie to the edge of the break.
Two moments from that Final that are now part of Brazilian football history are etched in the memory: a youngster confronting his national team legend by first leaving him behind with a little hat trick on the left flank, and secondly, and much more humiliatingly, a dribble that only a select few can pull off. Ronnie faced Dunga on the right flank and in a swift move and a dribble of pure fantasy that only occurs to a genius who has a special relationship with the ball dribbled a legend of his country. And he did it in one of the most impressive dribbles ever seen on a football pitch.
That final, as we have written, was won by Gremio and won by Ronaldinho who two years later would make the leap to Europe with direction Paris. Dunga, on the other hand, retired that same season and prepared for a coaching career. Fate had yet to speak and the paths of the two Brazilian legends would cross again 11 years later where Dunga took his own revenge by leaving Ronnie out of his last World Cup: The 2010 World Cup in South Africa.