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Danny Mills says he almost got into a fight with 'disrespectful' Ronaldinho at the 2002 World Cup

Jack Kenmare

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Danny Mills says he almost got into a fight with 'disrespectful' Ronaldinho at the 2002 World Cup

Danny Mills says he almost got into a scrap with Ronaldinho after England's infamous quarter-final defeat against Brazil at the 2002 World Cup.

You may be surprised to learn that the former Manchester City defender was involved in all five of England's games in South Korea and Japan that summer after first-choice right back Gary Neville was ruled out by injury.

And one of the games Mills appeared in was that 2-1 defeat to eventual winners Brazil.

In fact, Mills was on the end of a 'debatable' challenge from Ronaldinho, who was sent for an early bath, just seven minutes after his free-kick looped over David Seaman and into the net.

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

After the full-time whistle, four players were called to the drug testing room at the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Japan.

Mills was joined by international teammate Rio Ferdinand and Brazil pair Cafu and Ronaldinho, who was in a jovial mood after his side secured a place in the semi-final.

So what happened next? I'll let the former Leeds full-back tell that story.

“I was lucky enough to get Cafu’s shirt,” Mills explained on talkSPORT. “It was bitter sweet. 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, and to be honest he was a little bit much, you know?

“He actually came close to getting a bit of a right-hander… but Cafu was amazing.”

So there we have it. Danny Mills was "close" to thumping Ronaldinho was a right hand.

He added: “You’re in a very small room, obviously there’s two of you 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 the room – apart from the guys watching us have a wee.

“It was a little bit disrespectful almost – where as Cafu was magnificent and I just said to him, ‘Can I have your 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.”

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

Earlier this year, in an interview with SPORTbible, Ronaldinho admitted that his famous lob over England goalkeeper David Seaman at the 2002 World Cup wasn't entirely intentional.

"No, it wasn't on purpose," said Ronaldinho, speaking at his Expedia Route 10 Freestyle Bus Tour of Paris.

"But we studied it a lot and we knew that the English goalkeeper – he kind of took the advance a bit.

"I was actually lucky enough that the ball entered the way it did. For the sadness of lots of English, and for the happiness of so many Brazilians."

When asked if it was the most important goal of his career, Ronaldinho added: "It was one of the most important goals. It's certainly very remarkable because wherever I go, people ask me about it.

"There was also an important goal against Real Madrid but certainly that is the one that arises the most curiosity wherever I go."

Image credit: Alamy
Image credit: Alamy

Thoughts on Danny Mills' claims? Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: talkSPORT/Alamy

Topics: Ronaldinho, England, Brazil, Football World Cup

Jack Kenmare
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