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.”