Ronaldinho became one of the few players to win both the European and South American Champions League’s early on Thursday morning, after helping Atletico Mineiro to a dramatic Copa Libertadores victory over Olimpia.
Just like they had done in the semi-finals over Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys, ‘Dinho’s Brazilian club overcame a 2-0 first-leg deficit to beat Paraguayan heavyweights Olimpia and claim the trophy after a penalty shootout.
Former Manchester City striker Jo reduced the arrears for Atletico in the 46th minute, and Leonardo Silva headed home the aggregate equaliser in the dying moments of normal time.
Olimpia played all of extra-time with 10 men after they had Julio Manzur sent off, and it was an intense effort on their part to keep ‘Dinho and co at bay until the spot-kick roulette.
Leonardo Silva scored again to give Atletico a 4-3 lead in the shootout, and when midfielder Matias Gimenez slammed Olimpia’s fifth penalty against the post the Mineirao erupted in victory.
Atletico- the form club in South America thanks in large part to Ronaldinho’s Indian summer- become the fourth Brazilian club in succession to be crowned South American champions, and will represent the continent at the next Fifa Club World Cup.
On a personal note, former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho has now won every major tournament possible in his glittering career.
And after his Uefa Champions League success with Barcelona in 2006 he is one of the select few to boast a Libertadores medal as well.
"It was the title I was missing. I came back to Brazil for this. Everyone said I was finished, let them talk now," 33-year-old ‘Dinho crowed after the match.
The only minor sore point for him was that he was not needed to step up to take Mineiro’s fifth penalty, which could have covered the fading star in even more glory.
With league titles in Brazil, Spain and Italy, as well a World Cup and Copa America to his name, Ronaldinho will surely go down in history as one of the most successful Samba exports, if not the most entertaining one.
After the match, all eyes will now turn to Mineiro’s rising star Bernard, who is expected to be a big-money transfer target for a host of top clubs across Europe, including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.