Ronaldinho's Nike advert doing the crossbar challenge - was it fake?

  • Kat Lucas

Ronaldinho made history in so many ways throughout his illustrious career. 

The Brazilian was part of the Selecao’s 2002 World Cup winning side and also dazzled his way to the Champions League with Barcelona. 

However, he also holds a more unusual honour – he was the star of the first YouTube video to hit one million views. 

Back in 2005, the legendary midfielder broke the internet with a Nike advert which depicted him undertaking the famous crossbar challenge – but with a twist. 

Instead of just trying to hit the woodwork once from distance, Ronaldinho kept the ball in the air and THREE times in succession made contact. It gets better, of course, because each time when the ball rebounded, he controlled it with his chest.

Through the whole sequence, the ball doesn’t touch the ground. 

What is this wizardry, we hear you ask? Well, that was the question on everyone’s lips at the time and many fans believed the footage wasn’t real.

Why? Largely because people simply couldn’t believe it was even possible. Yet there were also a few other giveaways that the clip had been doctored. 

These have been the subject of countless arguments on forums. Firstly, if you rewatch the clip from 1:40-1:58 – the vital moments in question – the camera suddenly zooms out. 

Some believed that was to give a wider view – but it also could have allowed a design agency to alter the video. 

Another argument put forward was that the ball seems to disappear between 1:32 and 1:34. Is that just because Ronaldinho turns his back to the camera? Perhaps, but it would also have been an opportune moment for the trajectory of the ball to change.  

Bleacher Report appeared to confirm it was fake… but that wasn’t the end of the story. 

The freekickerz wanted to find out once and for all so they put the man himself to the test. 

Ronaldinho did repeat the skill of controlling the rebound on his chest and hitting the crossbar for a second time. However, it’s worth noting that was from a dead ball, and after the second rebound, he didn’t repeat it. 

The mathematics are sound, though – you can see their workings out below. 

It still seems a little too far-fetched, all the same. Verdict: it was fake, but Ronaldinho was genuinely capable of pulling off some of its stunts. 

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