Ronaldinho, PSG
Le Beau Jeu Podcast

Domi: 'PSG didn't get the best out of Ronaldinho'

Publish on 25/05/2020 at 11h41 - I. HOLYMAN

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Ronaldinho quickly showed his Paris Saint-Germain teammates he "was a real gem" after joining the club in 2001, but ex-PSG defender Didier Domi has told the official Ligue 1 podcast, Le Beau Jeu, "We didn't see the best" of the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Cup-winning ex-Brazil international in France.

Ronaldinho signed for PSG in the second half of the 2000-01 Ligue 1 season, but was not eligible to play a competitive game until the start of the following campaign.

 

But as soon as he stepped onto the training pitch at the Camp des Loges, Domi & Co. recognised the talent that PSG had spotted coming to the fore at Gremio.

 

However, the ex-Newcastle United and Leeds United full-back acknowledged that Ronaldinho only fleetingly showed his world-class talent in France.

 

WATCH: Ronaldinho dominates Marseille in the 2002-03 Classiques


 

"He couldn't play for the first few months, but you could feel the joy of Ronnie. We knew Ronnie would be a good person for the team, first of all, but we didn't know just how good it was at the start because there was no Internet. Nobody knew except for a couple of videos from when he was at Gremio. When he started to play in the toros, the little games, we kind of knew it was a real gem that we had, and he showed it afterwards," said Domi, who had rejoined PSG from Newcastle at the start of the 2001-02 season.

 

"Unfortunately, we would have liked to have had a Ronnie like he was for Brazil. But the way we were playing, the atmosphere in the squad wasn't the best, so we didn't see the best of Ronnie, except in games like the one against Marseille."

 

Ronaldinho was thrust into a highly talented PSG side also featuring Nicolas Anelka and Jay-Jay Okocha. With Mauricio Pochettino and Gabriel Heinze alongside Domi at the back, the capital club had the makings of a successful side.

 

LISTEN: PSG Special Pt. 2

 

But Luis Fernandez — the man who had led PSG to the 1995-96 European Cup Winners'Cup, their first and so far only major continental trophy — struggled to find the right formula.

 

After finishing fourth in Ronaldinho's first full season, PSG struggled home 11th in the 2002-03 campaign, and lost the Coupe de France final to AJ Auxerre after their Brazilian superstar-in-the-making had orchestrated their run to the Stade de France.

 

Those failures sparked Ronaldinho's move to FC Barcelona, and left Domi — and PSG's fans — nursing regrets.

 

"This is a period where we should have done a lot, lot better, considering the players we had. Yes, we had Ronnie, but we also had Okocha, Ali Benarbia, so offensively we were quite strong, even against European sides. We could have won against any team. Sometimes the coach is responsible for the atmosphere, for the emotional balance of the team, and it's not easy to mix those experienced players and the young players," said Domi, who joined Leeds on loan during the 2003-04 season before heading to Espanyol on a permanent deal in summer '04.

 

"Everyone should have done better: Luis, the players, because I think [then-PSG president] Laurent Perpère put everything in to have one of the best teams in Europe. It's one of the biggest disappointments in my life. There were so many Parisians, we had that identity. The players that came in fit in very, very well. Ronnie was world champion at PSG in 2002, we should have done much better with that quality."

 

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