Several Brazilian football greats took to social media to wish Ronaldinho a happy 40th birthday as the former Ballon d’Or winner remains behind bars at a maximum security prison in Paraguay.
Among the legends who wished Ronaldinho a happy birthday were Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Roberto Carlos — all players who formed part of the Brazil squad that won the 2002 World Cup, the country’s last of its five championships.
“Congratulations, fellow. May you overcome this difficult moment in your life with happiness you always show,” said Ronaldo.
Ronaldinho played for Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan. He won league titles for Barcelona and a UEFA Champions League, in addition to the 1999 Copa America and the 2002 World Cup with Brazil. The man from Porto Alegre was awarded the Balon d’Or in 2005, given to the world’s best player.
“Congratulations my friend, it was very easy to play at your side. I will never forget those moments and may God bless you and give you the strength to pass this difficult moment. I’m praying for you,” wrote ex-Barca teammate Rivaldo, using an image of the two kissing the World Cup trophy.
Roberto Carlos, who played at La Liga rivals Real Madrid, also bid his compatriot a happy birthday, wrote on Instagram: “Many congratulations to my friend for his 40 years.”
Several of Ronaldinho’s former clubs like Milan and Brazil’s Atletico Mineiro also expressed their warm wishes to Ronaldinho.
Ronaldinho and his brother, Roberto Assis (who is also his business manager), entered the country on March 4 with falsified passports, even though residents of Brazil do not need passports to enter their landlocked neighbour. Although not initially arrested, they were told to remain in their hotel suite in Asuncion while authorities investigated the matter. Two days later they were in jail, with a judge denying them bail and refusing to release them into house arrest, saying the brothers posed a flight risk.
The probe into the falsified passports has expanded into an investigation into possible money laundering.
Sources have told ESPN that he’s “loved” by his fellow prisoners, where he spends most of his time in a cell with his daily activities divided between playing football with the inmates and the employees, as well as attending a carpentry course. Sources added that Ronaldinho, is “relaxed” in prison, although he’s missing the ability to play music, one of his beloved hobbies.
Hearings into Ronaldinho’s case have been delayed, his lawyer Sergio Queiroz explained this week, because of the coronavirus outbreak that has occurred worldwide.