Brazilian football icon Ronaldinho plans to launch football academy in Dubai

Ronaldinho, a former Fifa Footballer of the Year, in an informal meeting with the media in Dubai on Monday. Image Credit: Leslie Wilson/Gulf News

Dubai: Ronaldinho, the Brazilian football icon who recently received a 10-year golden residency visa in Dubai, wants to invest in a football academy here to help inspire Emirati youngsters to play the beautiful game.

Ronaldinho has become a regular visitor to Dubai and even had his Covid 19 vaccine administered here, after having recovered from the dreaded virus last October.

The former Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan player professed his love for the Emirati culture and said that he sees himself spending a lot of his time in Dubai.

“I love this place, the people, the culture… everything I see and experience here,” Ronaldinho said during an informal press conference organized by the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) as part of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

“I have always been impressed by Dubai. It’s an amazing city and it has such a rich sports hub. As someone who loves all sport, not just football, this place is amazing… there is so much happening here all the time.

“This is a very forward-looking country and I see a very bright future. In all fields, and of course, mostly sport. It has accomplished a lot and has much more to accomplish in the future and I hope that I can be part of that growth,” he added.

Although Ronaldinho did not reveal the time or date for the opening of his football academy, he said: “I’ve been thinking of doing something to give back to this beautiful country through a soccer school.

Ronaldinho had received his 10-year golden residency from Major General Mohammed Al Marri, Director General of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai and Major General Obaid Muhair Bin Surour, Deputy Director of GDRFAD.

The special visa, a brainchild of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in 2019 is granted to investors, businessmen and influential individuals in the community, with the aim of building friendships and facilitating business growth in the region.

Ronaldinho, who boasts over 55 million followers in his social media accounts, joined an elite group of celebrities who were granted a golden visa status including former Spanish football player Michel Salgado, Chef Izu, the name behind the Emirates Golf Club restaurant Carine that is named after his wife and GAIA, Australian-Lebanese radio presenter, host, and musician Kris Fade, and many more.