He aims so high

Ronaldinho has a great DREAM."I want to win the most trophies possible so that people remember me as a player who did something very important for football," the Brazilian says in a chat with SEBASTIAN FEST.

He is the best player on the planet but he doesn't like to admit it. He lives with a permanent smile on his face but says that he does get annoyed sometimes. He says football is "perfect, the best thing there is", but he aspires to even greater perfection.

He is Ronaldinho Gaucho, the man looking for a place among the all-time football greats. "My dream is to follow in the footsteps of the great players such as Pele, Maradona and Beckenbauer," he said in an interview a few days before World Cup 2006 kicked off in Germany.

Excerpts:

Question: You managed to score 23 goals in one game when you were just 13 years old. Was it from that moment that you believed football was the thing that could make you the happiest?

Answer: (smiling): That was at school. I was lucky enough to score a lot of goals in one game and at that age it was fantastic. It was perfect because from that moment on I became very well known at school.

You control the ball like few other players ever have. Have you got any new tricks ready for the World Cup?

No, I am not reserving anything for the World Cup but I am always looking for new ways to dribble with the ball, something that will help me get the better of defences. I am always trying something new.

Carlos Puyol, your team-mate at Barcelona, said because of you happiness returned to the dressing room at the club. Is that because of your infectious smile?

I am a happy person and there is nothing better than to come in and train and play matches. I am always playing and joking with my team-mates ... for me it's perfect.

Do you remember the last time you were sad?

(Laughs) Sometimes some things make me sad. I am just like anyone else. Sometimes I have days when I am not so happy.

Your team-mate Rodrigo Costa said the world does not know a better percussionist than you. Do you do everything well?

Ha, ha, ha! (much laughter). He says that because he is my friend (laughing again). It's a joke, I love it.

Let's move on to the World Cup. Romario was the star of 1994 and Ronaldo in 2002. At the 2006 tournament will it be the third `Ro' — Ronaldinho?

The important thing is that Brazil win the tournament for the sixth time. That is my plan. I am not thinking about anything else.

Are you the best in the world?

No. I think I'm a player playing very good football, so I am happy. But I am aware of the fact that I have room for improvement.

So, who is better than you right now?

In every country there are lots of great players.

Name three.

I could name more than three: Henry, Zidane, Ronaldo, Adriano, Robinho, Kaka, Shevchenko, Inzaghi... there are lots in every team.

Is it one of your aims to join that sacred group of players: Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Di Stefano...?

I want to follow in the footsteps of great players such as Pele, Maradona and Beckenbauer. I want to win the most trophies possible so that people remember me as a player who did something very important for football.

If the "magic rectangle" (the quartet of Ronaldo, Adriano, Ronaldinho and Kaka) works and if Brazil play to their best and win the World Cup, will this be the best Brazilian team ever?

There are a lot of outstanding Brazilian sides — the 1970 team, the 1982 side. A lot is always said about those two teams. The team in 2002 was also good, and we have a good side now too, with some great players. If we win we can join them as one of the great Brazilian teams.

But will they be better than the team of 1970?

Well, people talk a lot about the team of 1970, and also 1982 when they didn't win but were a very special team, a great team. The important thing is for us to win the World Cup.

What would happen in Brazil if you didn't win the World Cup?

Football is very important there and the sadness and disappointment when we don't win is out of this world. I remember very well when Brazil lost to France in 1998 there was a lot of sadness. The World Cup is very important to Brazilian people.

What would be failure for Brazil?

For Brazilian football, finishing second is the same as finishing last. The objective is always to end up as champions.

What are your hopes for this World Cup? What do you expect it to be like?

I think it will be very well organised because everything in the Confederations Cup was very well organised. It's going to be a very good tournament.

Which World Cup do you remember best and for what reason?

I remember 1994 because that was when I had reached an age when I understood football.

Would you dare to say who you think will be in the final and who will win?

It's going to be difficult but I hope Brazil win the final.

What do you like most and least about football?

Well, I like everything about football, everything. And what I don't like is when I'm not playing (laughs). If I could always play it would be perfect.

If you had the power to make FIFA president (Joseph Blatter) change something in football, what would you make him change?

I don't know. For me football is perfect. It is the best there is. I think the way it is played today ... it's perfect.

Let's analyse other teams. What do you like and dislike most about Argentina?

I know everyone there. They have so many great players and a lot of them play in the Spanish league, above all (Lionel) Messi who plays with us at Barcelona and who is very young but with so much quality. I love watching Argentina play. I like the way they play with such technique.

Jose Pekerman, the Argentina coach, said that Brazil were better than all other teams, on a higher plane than everyone else. Do you see it like that?

Brazil is a team whose players have been playing together for a long time. We know each other very well. But there are other very good teams. Because of our success in the last World Cup, in the Confederations Cup and Copa America people talk about us as favourites. But we are conscious that the moment the World Cup starts what has gone before doesn't matter.

You praised Messi recently. How far do you think he can go?

Messi is a great friend of mine and I hope he can go as far as possible because he has so much quality as a player and he is also really a very, very, good person.

Is there anything Messi does better than Ronaldinho?

Every player has his own style. I have mine and he has his. I don't like to compare but I love watching him play because he has a beautiful style.

You played against Germany in the final of the last World Cup. Is this German side better than that one?

I think they have a good squad. They are playing at home and they are very well prepared. We played against them in the Confederations Cup and they played well. They are going to be a force. They reached the final in Korea/Japan and I think they will have another good tournament.

Is there a player in the German side who has particularly caught your eye?

They have a lot of good players. They have excellent goalkeepers and they have always had a strong defence. They play with a lot of crosses and long passes, it's a very nice style of football to watch.

Okay, a little game — pick a team in which you would like to play in, just for fun ... and you can't pick Brazil.

I could never imagine myself in another shirt that wasn't Brazil.

Maradona wore a Brazil shirt a few weeks back.

I really couldn't ever imagine myself in any other shirt than Brazil.

I will give you a few names and you tell me what words come immediately to mind.

Pele

The greatest of all time. Just saying he is the greatest says it all. He is the king of football.

Maradona

One of the greats. Along with Pele he marks the history of football. One of the great idols of the game.

Beckenbauer

The same. I never saw him play, but everything I have seen on video shows me that he identified an era and will always be remembered for what he did for football.

Away from football do you follow world events, things that are happening in Iran and Iraq for example, or do you prefer not to involve yourself in this world that exists outside of the game?

It's not that I don't like to involve myself in these things but footballers live a very intense life ... we don't like to see problems. We are always thinking that the world could be a better place. Let's think positively that things can get better.

What is it about football that reaches all parts of the world and that almost everybody wants to play or see football?

It's a passionate sport — once you play it you're hooked. I come from a country where football is one of, if not the most important thing.

If you win everything this year — La Liga, the Champions League and the World Cup — how will you stay motivated?

This is the best there is. To be able to enjoy competitions at the highest level. If I am able to win all these things it is only going to motivate me even more to continue at this level because there is nothing better than to win the big titles.

You have a son. Would you prefer him to be a footballer or rather a doctor or a lawyer or a journalist?

(Laughs) I would love it if he becomes a footballer. For a footballer it's great if your son continues in the profession. But I will give him the freedom to do whatever he really wants to do, that's for sure.

DPA