Ronaldinho is one of the most popular and much-loved footballers in the sport’s history, so the sight of him banged up in a Paraguayan prison back in 2020 was very upsetting.
The Brazilian icon, who brought the curtain down on his glittering career in 2015 following a spell with Fluminense, spent 32 days behind bars (plus a further four months under house arrest) after entering Paraguay with a fake passport alongside his brother, Roberto de Assis.
Ronaldinho had travelled to the South American country to attend the launch of his book ‘Genius of Life’ but was arrested and held in custody at the Agrupacion Especializada in Asuncion.
While the 2005 Ballon d’Or winner would rather have been anywhere else in the world than prison, there was at least one small silver lining.
Shortly after his arrival, it was revealed that the prison he was staying at was set to stage a futsal tournament.
This was presumably music to the ears of Ronaldinho – who grew up playing futsal in Brazil and was unsurprisingly a child sensation – during one of the most difficult moments of his entire life.
It was initially reported that Ronaldinho could only participate if he didn’t score any goals, but these stories proved to be wide of the mark as he inspired his futsal team to an emphatic 11-2 victory in the final game of the tournament.
Ronaldinho stole the show in prison futsal tournament
Yep, the former Brazil international played a part in all 11 of his team’s goals. Now that’s what you call a Man of the Match performance.
His fellow prisoners will never forget the experience of playing alongside one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Photos and even some grainy footage emerged of Ronaldinho competing in the futsal tournament.
It was reassuring to see the great man with a trademark beaming smile on his face as all the players posed for a photo afterwards.
As well as a small trophy, Ronaldinho and his teammates were also awarded with a 16 kilogram sucking pig.
It wasn’t exactly the European Cup but a prize is a prize, right?
What happened to Ronaldinho after leaving prison?
We’re not sure what became of the pig but Ronaldinho was eventually released from prison in August 2020 after a judge accepted a plea deal that the defence team had agreed upon.
Terms of the agreement included a guilty plea from the two brothers plus fines of $90,000 and $110,000, respectively, for Ronaldinho and Roberto.
Ronaldinho’s record in Paraguay is clean but his brother agreed to a criminal record in the country and was also banned from leaving Brazil for two years.
It was reported that Ronaldinho was ‘close to bankruptcy’ after leaving prison but went on to earn more than 5 million Brazilian reais (£702,407) in the four months afterwards thanks to a series of smart business moves.
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