I played against Ronaldo, got Cafu’s shirt but almost knocked out disrespectful Ronaldinho after Brazil beat England

Ronaldinho may have scored the winner against England at the 2002 World Cup – but he almost got knocked out following the quarter-final clash.

That”s because he annoyed talkSPORT pundit Danny Mills, who was the Three Lions’ starting right-back at the tournament due Gary Neville’s injury.


Mills started at right-back in all five of England’s games at the World Cup in 2002Credit: Getty

Despite England taking the lead against the eventual winners through Michael Owen in Japan, the South American giants levelled through Rivaldo on the stroke of half-time, before Ronaldinho lobbed David Seaman with an audacious free-kick.

The Selecao, who face England at Wembley on Saturday night in a friendly clash, held on for the 2-1 victory then beat Turkey and Germany en route to a fifth triumph.

Ronaldinho, who was relatively unknown heading into the tournament, was the breakout star, with Mills revealing manager Sven-Goran Eriksson had no game plan in stopping him.

He told talkSPORT host Jim White: “There wasn’t [a plan], because they had Roberto Carlos and Cafu as the flying wing-backs, but they were effectively wingers.

“You had Rivaldo, Juninho and you also had the real Ronaldo – R9 – you can’t make special measures for five or six of them it’s impossible!

“And they also had Gilberto Silva sat in the middle [of midfield].”

Mills did play his part in Ronaldinho being shown a straight red card seven minutes after his goal, as he admitted Paul Scholes urged him to use the dark arts of football.

He stated: “It was a poor tackle, he caught me on the shinpad, it was one of those where you go down and just see what happens.

Ronaldinho was sent off for this tackle on Mills during Brazil's win over England


Ronaldinho was sent off for this tackle on Mills during Brazil’s win over EnglandCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Mills conceded the challenge wasn't too bad, but stayed on the ground to make the most of it


Mills conceded the challenge wasn’t too bad, but stayed on the ground to make the most of itCredit: Bongarts – Getty

“I didn’t roll around, and then just as I was getting up, Scholesy came over and said, ‘Ooh he’s getting a card out, stay down for a minute’, and he pulled a red card out.

“It was never a red card. I didn’t roll around screaming, that wasn’t what I did at all, you just lay on the floor and you let the referee make a decision, it’s as simple as that.”

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Mills’ reaction could have led to Ronaldinho’s over-celebration in front of the former Manchester City defender when the pair were drug-tested following the game.

And the 46-year-old, who swapped shirts with Cafu backstage, has stated it almost led to the Barcelona legend getting a punch to the face.

He recalled on Drive: “I was lucky enough to get Cafu’s shirt.

“It was bittersweet. Me and Rio [Ferdinand] got pulled into the drug testing room after the game, which is never nice especially after you’ve lost.

“We walk in, Cafu’s in there, Ronaldinho’s in there. Ronaldinho had obviously been sent off for a debatable foul on myself.

“But he was laughing and joking they’d won, and to be honest he was a little bit much, you know? He came close to getting a bit of a right-hander… but Cafu was amazing.”

Mills continued: “You’re in a very small room, there’s two of you obviously on the losing team, two on the winning side.

“Cafu was humble, very respectful, Ronaldinho was jumping around, laughing and celebrating constantly when there was no one else in there – apart from the guys watching you have a wee.

Ronaldo and Cafu picked up their second World Cup winners' medals in 2002


Ronaldo and Cafu picked up their second World Cup winners’ medals in 2002Credit: Getty

“It was a little bit disrespectful almost, whereas Cafu was magnificent and I just said to him, ‘Shirt?’ He said, ‘Yep, there you go, no problem’.

“He took mine… I’m not sure what he did with it! He’s not got it hanging on his wall, that’s for sure.”

England vs Brazil is live on talkSPORT from 7pm


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