Kerry Gaelic footballer Paul Walsh has revealed he told nobody that he was travelling to Brazil to meet Ronaldinho as he feared he may have been getting “catfished”.
2018 minor footballer of the year Walsh shared an unlikely meeting with his childhood hero Ronaldinho at the Brazilian footballer’s house in Rio de Janeiro, after befriending his brother Assis online almost two years ago.
Walsh was speaking on RTE Radio’s Today Show and explained that he didn’t even tell his parents that he was going to Brazil as he wasn’t convinced that he would actually get to meet Ronaldinho.
— Today with Claire Byrne (@TodaywithClaire) August 23, 2021
Paul Walsh on meeting Ronaldinho.
“As it was when I got to Rio I was waiting outside the gate for hours and I didn’t think I was going to be let in because no one knew I was coming. Apparently he wasn’t in the house or he was sleeping or something,” Walsh explained, via The Irish Times.
“The housekeeper gave me a cup of coffee, then his friends came over, we had a few drinks by the pool, until he finally got up and came down.
“It was the first time in my life I was genuinely star struck, can’t believe you’re standing in the spot where you are. Not many people get the chance to meet their heroes.
“I wasn’t planning on telling anyone until I got back, I sent photos from the house to only a few friends. Nobody would believe me.
“It was only because nobody would believe me that I sent the photo of me and him with the jersey and then they must have let it out, because I then began getting messages.”
‘It was a dream come true.’
The Brazilian football legend signed a number of jerseys that Walsh brought over with him to Rio de Janeiro, before getting Walsh to sign the Kerry jersey that he had given to him.
Walsh also showed Ronaldinho a few video clips of Gaelic football, and described the meeting as a “dream come true”.
“He was genuinely impressed by it (Gaelic football), I don’t know if he was just being nice because he was genuinely the nicest person you could meet,” Walsh said.
“The first thing he did when he came down the stairs was he came over and he gave me a hug, I presented him with the jersey then. You couldn’t ask for a nicer person to meet.
“He signed all my jerseys, I brought over a few. Then he asked me to sign the jersey I gave him. It was a dream come true.”