Dida: I played with Iker Casillas for four years at Real Madrid, but for me Dida is the best goalkeeper. We played together and won together at AC Milan and for the Brazil national team. He is an unbelievable keeper.
Cafu: Every time I have to say something about players that I’ve learnt a lot from, I talk about Cafu. He won the World Cup twice and the Champions League, but still he worked every day to win. His motivation was always victory in the next game.
Paolo Maldini: He is similar to Cafu. He won five Champions Leagues, he won Serie A seven times, he won so much, but he was always the first to arrive and the last to go home from training. He was the perfect example to a player.
Alessandro Nesta: The Italian players, they see the game in a different way to other nations. They grow up learning about tactics so when they play professionally they can see where to position themselves and how to move and what the opponents will do. It made Nesta such a strong defender and he was so quick, too.
Roberto Carlos: What an amazing player he was. So exciting at left back. I enjoyed playing with him. He was quick, strong and could hit some unbelievable free kicks and shots at goal.
Andres Iniesta: He makes the toughest things on a football pitch look easy. That’s the biggest compliment I can pay him. How he plays, everything seems so simple. This is what I like about him.
Zinedine Zidane: I never played with Zidane, just against him. It was wonderful how he played, how he moved around the field. It was like he was gliding. What he could do with a football, it was sometimes impossible to imagine.
Andrea Pirlo: I loved to play with Pirlo. I think he’s one of the greats. He sees the action before anyone else does on the pitch. My position was to play behind the lines, and he found me every time he could find me.
Cristiano Ronaldo: I will have the three Ronaldo’s up front, starting with Cristiano. I learnt a lot from him, which helped in my career, when we played for Real Madrid. He is the best player on the planet at the moment, a special player.
Ronaldo: For me, the Brazilian Ronaldo is one of the best strikers in the history of the game. He is different to anyone. I would have to say he was the best player I played together with. His speed, his dribbling, his finishing, his movement. I love him.
Ronaldinho: I played against Lionel Messi, but Ronaldinho makes my final slot. He is a genius. He can do things with the ball you don’t understand. During training you see a lot of things you don’t see in the game. In training he was free from the emotional part, the responsibility of matches. In training he was free to do what he wanted.
With 142 appearances for the Brazil national football team, he is the most internationally capped male Brazilian player of all time. He represented his nation in four FIFA World Cups between 1994 and 2006, and is the only player to have appeared in three consecutive World Cup finals, winning the 1994 and 2002 editions of the tournament, the latter as his team’s captain. With Brazil, he also took part in four editions of the Copa América, winning the title twice, in 1997 and 1999; he was also a member of the national side that won the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup.
At club level, Cafu won several domestic and international titles while playing in Brazil, Spain and Italy; he is best known for his spells at São Paulo, Roma and Milan, teams with which he made history, although he also played for Real Zaragoza, Juventude and Palmeiras throughout his career. Known for his pace and energetic attacking runs along the right flank, he is regarded as one of the greatest full-backs of all time, one of the best defenders ever to grace the Italian Serie A, and as one of the greatest Brazilian and South American players of his generation. In 1994, he was named South American Footballer of the Year, and in 2004, he was named by Pelé one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards ceremony.
Miskick or Magic? - Ronaldinho’s 2002 FIFA World Cup Free Kick
This has been debated ever since the Brazilian starlet lobbed the ball over a flat footed David Seaman from a wide right position 35 yards out. At the time Ronaldinho was adamant, and stated, "It was definitely a shot,“ he went on to claim, "It was Cafu who advised me beforehand that there was a space and that Seaman was standing in a very advanced position in the penalty area. It seemed only natural to have a go, and there was nothing lucky about it.”
Unsurprisingly, a few players from the England team; which as a consequence of the goal were knocked out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, felt a little differently about what happened.
David Beckham, a man with more than a few free-kick goals to his name, felt, “It was not his (Seaman’s) fault,” said the Manchester United star. “The goal was a fluke. It was a cross that ended up being a goal.”
England’s then Right-Back Danny Mills also claimed, “Rio Ferdinand asked Ronaldinho after the game if he meant to shoot and he just gave a shrug and grinned. His sheepishness suggests to me that it was a misguided cross.“
In fact, that grin – as Ronaldinho later explained – reflected not that the goal was an intended cross, but rather a less-than-accurate shot. "When I hit the ball I wanted to shoot for goal - but maybe not exactly where the ball ended up,” he said. “If I’m being totally honest, I was aiming for the other side of the net.
So then, miskick or magic? I guess we must look to Ronaldinho himself for the final word: “No, no, you can’t say that, because I was aware of the keeper’s position and went for the shot at goal. The fact that it did not go in exactly as I planned is secondary to the fact that I was having a go.
"What basically happened is that I hit my shot too hard and, as it travelled through the air, it swerved more and ended up looping over Seaman. There was nothing he could do about it and I suppose there was an element of luck involved.”