For the first time, a Ballon d'Or winner will set up a football academy in Singapore.
Ronaldinho, who bagged the sport's top individual honour in 2005, has joined forces with S-League club Tampines Rovers and the International Football Group to launch the Ronaldinho Football Academy yesterday.
"I want to teach young kids to achieve a higher level (of football) and hopefully to be professional world-class (football players)," the Brazilian said through a translator at the memorandum of understanding signing with the Stags at Ion Orchard.
The 35-year-old arrived yesterday for a two-day stop for the academy's launch - the first here to be associated with a top individual international player.
Currently, European giants Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal run football schools here.
The academy will be run largely by Tampines Rovers, with its curriculum shaped by the skills which Ronaldinho is known for.
Famous for his dazzling dribbles and sublime flicks, the former Barcelona and AC Milan player is without a club since leaving Brazilian side Fluminense in September.
Said the 2002 World Cup winner, who also launched his own e-scooter brand at Ion Orchard: "At this moment, I am enjoying my free time on vacation. Only next year I will stop to think about my next step."
Stags chairman Krishna Ramachandra said: "It's a great attraction that creativity is a part of the academy curriculum - the creativity that is lacking in Singapore football.
"Tampines Rovers have a broad-based practice of junior football and youth development. We are keen to develop local football."
As soon as he landed at Changi Airport, Ronaldinho was mobbed by fans who followed his chauffeured black Rolls Royce to Ion Orchard.
Jonathan Tan, who was part of Geylang International's Prime League squad last season, was delighted to catch a glimpse of his idol.
"He has magical skills, it's silky and he can pull off moves at the most unexpected moments."
This article was first published on December 11, 2015.
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