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Ronaldinho Was The Nintendo Labo Of Football

Ronaldinho retired this week. Maybe you’ve heard. We’ve mentioned it a few times. But it’s worth revisiting once more because the Brazilian was one of the most creative footballers to ever play the game. He was, in essence, the Nintendo Labo of soccer. 

Labo, for those of you have haven’t heard, is the latest proof of Nintendo’s gimmicky goodness. Like Ronaldinho, the Japanese company won’t go away. Nintendo just released a video on its latest product that will make you say “Wow” as if you were watching a Ronaldinho skills compilation.

Labo takes the existing parts of the Nintendo Switch console, from the two detachable controllers to the center screen/touchpad, and uses cardboard cutouts to create entirely new ways to play videogames. It’s zany, unusual, fun and extremely creative — just like Ronaldinho. 

Ronaldinho was as effervescent as footballers come. He bounced around the pitch like a kid who never aged, just happy to be playing the game. His smile was omnipresent and his moves playful. And he was also damn good at soccer. 

But the one trait that stood out above all others was his creativity. Like turning cardboard into a piano or fishing reel or some sort of god-forsaken, wall-terrorizing robot, Ronaldinho created magic with the ball at his feet. Never was that more evident than his bicycle kick goal against Villarreal a decade ago.

Ronaldinho showed sublime skill to control the ball with his chest, popping it up into the air for his next move. But what happened next was proof of his genius. Just when it looked like he would swing his left foot around for a volley, Ronaldinho, realizing the defender was closing fast, some how acrobatically hit a right-footed bicycle kick with a maneuver that looked like it was out of a Spiderman movie. How the Brazilian even processed the move in his head is beyond me, let alone actually carrying it out with supreme efficiency. 

Ronaldinho Creativity

Ronaldinho creativity was on display every time he stepped on the pitch. Photo: @ChampionsLeague | Twitter

Ronaldinho was the embodiment of Joga Bonito.

I was fortunate enough to see Ronaldinho in person in his prime. In 2006 I watched him come on as a substitute with Barcelona trailing 4-1. He then played a vital role in his team scoring three goals in five minutes to rescue a 4-4 draw in a friendly with Club America. The way 80,000 fans buzzed every time he touched the ball was a testament to his greatness, even as he torched Las Aguilas, the team many had been rooting for until he came onto the pitch. 

Few and far between are those with the creativity to come up with inspired ideas and the execution to produce moments of childish wonder. Ronaldinho did it on a daily basis. Nintendo just did it once again with Labo. 

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