Ronaldinho’s World Cup dream is surely over, after an injury ended his season.
The 34-year-old Brazilian trickster has been remarkably injury-free during his scintillating career.
But he has been struck down at the least opportune moment, as he fights to win his place in ‘Big Phil’ Scolari’s plans for the World Cup in Brazil next year.
It has been a superlative year for Ronaldinho, who completed his trophy collection by helping little-fancied Atletico Mineiro to become great, and win the Copa Libertadores for the first time in their- and his- history.
Even so, the magical playmaker remains on the fringes of Scolari’s squad.
The Brazil boss appears to prefer dynamic youngsters for his attacking roles, and the few older players he chooses seem to be more defensive in nature.
‘Dinho has so far refused to believe that his World Cup ambitions are for nothing, and he has even shelved his notorious party boy tendencies to buckle down and work at his football dotage.
The Club World Cup in Morocco in December was set to be his final proving ground in his bid to convince ‘Big Phil’ of his enduring value to the Selecao’s cause.
But now he may not even be able to play in it.
He tore a thigh muscle in training with Mineiro last week, and faces a battle to recover in time for the competition, where he has a score to settle with Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola from their brief time together at Barcelona.
‘Dinho has tweeted that he will not give up on his fight for fitness. But it does appear that the bell has tolled for the bucktoothed ball wizard’s Brazil ambitions.