Former England defender Danny Mills has revealed how he got close to Brazilian legend Ronaldinho.
Playing in a World Cup is a career-defining moment for any player, but for Mills it’s a moment off the field that sticks in his mind more sharply than his other memories of the tournament – and it involves two Brazilian superstars, a shirt swap and a drug testing room .
The ex-Leeds and Manchester City defender was the Three Lions’ first choice, the Korea/Japan right-back after an injury to Manchester United’s Gary Neville.
The Norwich-born star played all five of England’s matches at the tournament, including the quarter-final against Brazil, where they lost 2-1 to end their World Cup journey.
But Mills’ first major tournament experience wasn’t done after the final whistle, when he was called to the drug testing room – sparking a hilarious interaction between him and eventual World Cup winners, Brazilian stars Ronaldinho and Cafu.
“I was lucky enough to get Cafu’s shirt,” Mills explained to talkSPORT’s Drivetime.
“It was bittersweet. Me and Rio [Ferdinand] got pulled into the drug testing room after the game, which is never fun, especially after you lose.
“We walk in, Cafu is in there, Ronaldinho is in there. Ronaldinho was clearly sent off for a questionable foul on myself.
“But he laughed and joked, and to be honest he was a bit much, you know?
“He actually came close to getting a little right-handed… but Cafu was great.”
Mills’ comment about the “right-handed” surprised Drive host Andy Goldstein, who asked him for an explanation.
And the ex-Englandman went on to say that Ronaldinho and Cafu couldn’t have had more different personalities – and that he almost lost his rag with the first.
“You are in a very small room, of course there are two of you on the losing team, two on the winning side,” he said.
“Cafu was humble, very respectful, Ronaldinho would jump around, laugh and celebrate constantly when no one else was in the room – except the guys who watched us pee.
“It was almost a bit disrespectful – while Cafu was great and I just said to him, ‘Can I have your shirt?’ He said, ‘Yes, there you go, no problem’.
“He took mine… I’m not sure what he did with it!
“He didn’t have it on his wall, that’s for sure.”