The Unheard Reason Why Ronaldinho's Nou Camp Debut Took Place At Midnight In 2003
16 years ago today, Ronaldinho signed for Barcelona in a truly game-changing transfer but the story behind Brazilian's home debut was incredibly bizarre.
Having arrived from PSG for a fee of £21 million, Ronaldinho made his competitive debut against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames in a game Barcelona won 1-0 courtesy of a goal from Phillip Cocu.
His eagerly-awaited home debut was set for the visit of Sevilla on 3 September but a few issues arose. The game came right before an international break and Ronaldinho needed to fly out to Brazil to join up with his teammates for a game against Ecuador on 10 September.
As reported by Sid Lowe for The Guardian, the story goes that Barca did their best to get the game rearranged to the Tuesday rather than the Wednesday but Sevilla were having none of it.
Instead, the solution from Joan Laporta, Barca's president at the time, was to have the game kick-off in the very early hours of Wednesday morning, at 12:05am.
Midnight football is, of course, largely unheard of, and so Barcelona decided to add to the matchday experience for their supporters by opening their historic museum later as well as dishing out some top-notch scran free of charge.
The food included 25,000 free bags of Doritos with salsa dip, 30,000 Actimel yogurts, 100,000 KitKats and chorizo for the 80,000 that packed into the Nou Camp to see their new Brazilian star.
And though they drew 1-1, which was a disappointing result, they got to see the goal of the season from Ronaldinho.
In the second half, he destroyed two players with a couple of deft shimmies before unleashing a 30-yard rocket that flew in off the crossbar.
A bizarre but incredible home debut for Ronaldinho, who went on to score 93 more goals for Barca and cement himself as one of their greatest ever players.