India is hosting the 17th edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup and the legendary Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho says that the tournament can be crucial for many young players as it has given him "a wonderful start" to his glittering career when he won it for the first in 1997. Ronaldinho won Brazil's first FIFA U-17 World Cup 20 years ago in Egypt. He is the only player to have won both FIFA U-17 World Cup (1997) and FIFA World Cup Finals (2002) titles.
A total of 12 players who have played in FIFA U-17 World Cup have also represented their countries in a FIFA World Cup Finals.
"The U-17 World Cup is a very special tournament for me. It opened the door for my professional career. I was lucky enough not only to take part in the competition but to win it too. I can honestly say that it opened the door for my professional career," said Ronaldinho, who was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005.
"The U-17 World Cup can be crucial as for many players it marks the start of their careers. Young players dream of making it big, and this competition gives them a fantastic opportunity to make that dream come true. It got my career off to a wonderful start and will always be close to my heart," said the former FC Barcelona star as media reports suggest.
In a career spanning almost 20 years, the Brazilian won almost every title in football, including the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005 and the UEFA Champions League in 2006.
Ronaldinho is currently featuring in the Premier Futsal tournament in India, playing for the Delhi Dragons, taking on fellow ex-pros Ryan Giggs, Deco, Paul Scholes, Michel Salgado and Hernan Crespo.
"The most wonderful moment of the tournament was when we became world champions and I got to lift the trophy. It was something Brazil had never done before and experiencing something like that was wonderful," Ronaldinho recalled.
Ronaldinho, now 37, has played for Brazil senior side 97 times and has 33 international goals to his name.