Best known as an attacking midfielder, he was named the 2004-05 FIFA World Player of the Year.
He was nicknamed El Gaucho at the age of 8 because he was smaller than most of his peers. When he was 13, he scored 23 goals in a 23–0 match.
He received international honors during the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2005.
He became a father on February 25, 2005 when Brazilian dancer Janaína Mendes gave birth to their son. He named the child João after his late father.
Football legend Pele included him on the FIFA 100 list, a compilation of the world's greatest players.
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