Ronaldinho brings UEFA Champions League trophy to Vietnam

The Brazilian soccer star landed in Ho Chi Minh City late Wednesday to kick off the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour (UCL Trophy Tour) in Vietnam

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho takes a selfie with the UEFA Champions League trophy in Ho Chi Minh City, April 13, 2017.

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho landed in Ho Chi Minh City late Wednesday to kick off the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour (UCL Trophy Tour) in Vietnam.

The tour, sponsored by Dutch brewer Heineken, will offer Vietnamese fans a rare chance to get up close and personal with the ultimate prize from European football’s most prestigious club competition.

Exiting through the VIP gate at Tan Son Nhat International Airport late Wednesday, the former Brazilian footballer appeared jet-lagged after the long flight but waved and gave a friendly smile to journalists and fans eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Ronaldinho đã có mặt tại TP.HCM

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho signs at fans from inside his van as he leaves Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, April 12, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre 

Ronaldinho said he was both surprised and impressed by how much Vietnamese fans love football, their willingness to stay up all night to watch live Champions League matches on television, and their emotional responses to their team’s defeats.

Vietnam’s profound love for football made his tour even more meaningful, the ex-soccer star said.

Initiated in 2007, ULC Trophy Tour is an annual event during which the tournament’s trophy travels the world, escorted by decorated footballers, to reach fans in Africa, America, and Asia.

Last year, the trophy was brought to Vietnam by retired football stars Carles Puyol and Ruud Gullit.

A press conference was held on Thursday morning to announce the kick-off of this year’s ULC Trophy Tour in Vietnam.

Following the conference, Ronaldinho sat down for an exclusive online interview with local fans organized by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper the same morning.

​Ronaldinho: “Tôi choáng ngợp trước giao thông VN”

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho (C) and organizers at the press conference announcing the UCL Trophy Tour in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, April 13, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre 

​Ronaldinho: “Tôi choáng ngợp trước giao thông VN”

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho (C) and organizers at the press conference announcing the UCL Trophy Tour in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, April 13, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

​Ronaldinho: “Tôi choáng ngợp trước giao thông VN”

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho (fourth R) takes photos with fans at the press conference announcing the UCL Trophy Tour in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, April 13, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Former Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho in an exclusive interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in Ho Chi Minh City, April 13, 2017. Clip: Tuoi Tre

Ronaldinho is widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation, having played 97 matches and scored 33 goals for the Brazil national football team.

At club level, he won La Liga twice, the UEFA Champions League in 2006 and accumulated numerous individual awards, including the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005 and the Ballon d'Or in 2005.

Ronaldinho was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the world's greatest living players compiled by retired Brazillian football legend Pelé.

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