June 21, 2002 was a dark day for England.
Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side, which included David Beckham, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand, took on Brazil in the quarter-final of the World Cup.
The game kicked off at 7.30am in England, with many youngsters coming into school early to watch it with their friends. Televisions were loaded onto wheels and placed in assembly halls.
The Three Lions had reached the final eight having progressed from their group and beaten Denmark 3-0 in the round-of-16.
And while Brazil were the favourites to advance to the semi-final, Owen’s early goal gave England hope.
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Owen capitalised on Lucio’s error to put England ahead in the 23rd minute.
But an entire nation was left heartbroken when Ronaldinho inspired Brazil’s comeback.
Exactly 17 years since Ronaldinho’s free-kick
Brazil’s magician provided the assist for Rivaldo to equalise in the second minute of first-half injury time.
Then, Ronaldinho scored one of the most memorable goals in World Cup history to knock England out.
His free-kick in the 50th minute looped over David Seaman’s head and into the back of the net.
Just look at the way Ronaldinho put the ball down.
One question remains. Did he mean it?
Ronaldinho has always maintained that he did.
“I saw he was off his line. About five metres off. I really aimed at the goal,” Ronaldinho revealed to FourFourTwo. “Although not exactly where [the ball] went.”
But many remain unconvinced. And Ronaldinho’s international teammate Juninho even admitted that there was more luck than skill involved.
“He said he tried to put the ball in the opposite angle to where it went, the other corner,” Juninho told the Independent.
“He mishit it. In the end it was lucky. In football you have to be lucky sometimes.”
It hurts just as much now as it did 17 years ago.