Ten years ago, the first episode of ‘Wayne Rooney’s street striker’ aired on Sky.
Over the course of three seasons, teenagers, mostly from the inner city would test their skills by completing tasks like: controlling the ball on a moving boat and vollying it through a tire across the river.
The point of the show was to give players, who developed their skills on the street, a chance to be drafted into an academy, emulating the career path Rooney took - despite the fact he was part of a professional academy aged nine.
When I was a kid, I would line up: jumpers, pipes, bricks - anything I could get my hands on - all in a maze and try manoeuver myself around while keeping the ball at my feet.
At the end, I would stack the remainder of the bricks on top of one another making a shaky pillar which I would try flick the ball over; if the ball hit and knocked it over, I would start the whole process over until I made it through without making contact with any of the objects.
This was long before ‘Street Striker’ aired, and the reasoning behind it was not to be spotted in my back garden by someone working for the Manchester United academy who just so happened to be passing by my house in remote Donegal.
All I wanted to achieve from this, was to be able to recreate what Ronaldinho did on the pitch.
Following the Brazilian’s retirement this week, the general theme of the tributes to the Brazilian was ‘What if’.
Many pointed to his lavish lifestyle, and interest in things off the pitch which held him back from achieving his potential.
It’s true that if you look at Ronaldinho’s career in terms of success, it doesn’t measure up to the talent of the player.
He won just one Ballon D’Or and his highest goal tally for a season is 21.
By goal scoring standards that doesn’t rival the likes of Harry Kane or Luis Suarez or even Jamie Vardy.
Ronaldinho at the 2006 World Cup. Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport
Going off records and awards, he doesn’t come close to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet, the esteem to which he is held is almost the same, why?
I’d argue that the very reason why he possibly didn’t achieve all he could have, is also the reason why he was so universally adored.
He didn’t play like he was trying to break the Barcelona goalscoring record or to trying to be the best player in the world; he played with the imagination of an eight-year-old kid but at the highest level imaginable.
Such was the skill and freedom he played with, it made his fiercest rivals applaud after a 3-0 Clasico defeat in the Bernabeu.
He captivated people with his control and skills right up until the end of his career when the odd viral video would emerge from Mexico or Brazil - where he spent the last few years - of him taking down a 40 yard pass on his foot, as though it was covered in super-glue or doing skills on the Copacabana beach.
In many ways his career is full of ‘what ifs’. What if he moved to Manchester United? What if he worked harder when Guardiola took charge.
Chelsea's Ashley Cole argues with Barcelona's Ronaldinho. Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport
He may have thrived under Pep or played in the Premier League into his 30s.
But there is also the chance that if he had taken a different career path than what he did, we may not remember his career as fondly.
In England, he may not have had the physicality to compete or the tactical discipline to play under Pep at Barcelona.
We may have been left with another frustrated footballer disappointed by the way his career ended up.
Instead we’re left with a player who made us smile by playing with one on his face.
That for me is more important that any ‘what ifs’.