Like it or not, Stephen McPhee will always be linked with Ronaldinho.
For it was St Mirren’s failure to sign Ronaldinho that saw McPhee move to Paisley from Coventry’s reserves on a seven-game loan spell.
Yep, you read that right. Ronaldinho and St Mirren. St Mirren and Ronaldinho.
Ronaldinho was in limbo.
He’d left his contract at Gremio and, with the Brazilian season over, was waiting to join PSG.
St Mirren offered to bridge the gap, allowing Ronny to adapt to ‘European’ football before moving on from Paisley to Paris.
Red tape meant the move never happened but what if, in an alternative universe, the deal went through?
Announcing his arrival
There’s plenty of intrigue around Ronaldinho’s press conference when he’s unveiled at St Mirren’s dilapidated Love Street stadium on 1 January 2001.
In broken English he explains that his reasons for joining are simple.
The main motivation was that he’s always wanted to try Irn Bru. He also couldn’t pass up the chance to play against his idol, Rangers midfielder Tugay Kerimoglu.
A first trip to Celtic Park
Ronaldinho is forced to sit out his first three games after an unfortunate event in which he asked a team-mate what a ‘Glasgow kiss’ was during his first training session.
But, with St Mirren bottom of the Scottish Premier League, he returns in time for a trip to Celtic Park to take on the runaway leaders.
Celtic play fellow Brazilian Rafael Scheidt in defence, hoping he can unnerve Ronaldinho with native trash talk.
But the move backfires. Ronaldinho spends the entire game nutmegging Scheidt, scoring twice in a shock 3-1 win.
An inspired run
Ronaldinho scores nine times in his next seven matches to power St Mirren up to the heady heights of eighth in the table.
However he’s forced to miss another three games following a robust tackle from Dundee’s Claudio Caniggia who didn’t take kindly to no longer being the best South American in the league.
After another stint in rehab, which consists of playing pool in the local pub, Ronaldinho makes it back for the last game of the season, against Rangers.
Ronaldinho’s short but sweet stint at St Mirren ends with a 4-1 loss against Rangers.
Tore Andre Flo and Kenny Miller both score twice, but Ronaldinho scores what’s widely regarded as ‘the best but most pointless goal in the history of football’.
He dribbles from the halfway line doing kick ups and twists Ronald de Boer so hard that the Dutchman breaks an ankle.
St Mirren retire Ronaldinho’s no.63 shirt despite the fact he spent less than a season at the club.
England win the 2002 World Cup
So impressed was Ronaldinho by Celtic winger Alan Thompson that he recommends PSG sign the left winger.
Thompson tears it up in Ligue 1, winning France’s Player of the Season and earning a call up to England’s 2002 World Cup squad.
He starts every game and faces his PSG team-mate in the quarter-final, in which David Seaman catches an overhit Ronaldinho free-kick and England win 2-1.
With England’s left side sorted Sven-Goran Eriksson leads the squad to victory against Germany in the final.
Thirty-six years of hurt all put to bed thanks to Ronaldinho.
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