Ronaldo Doc of the Week


He is one of the greatest footballers of all time but, despite his remarkable achievements on the pitch, Real Madrid’s Portuguese superstar suffers from something of an image problem. Most people think he’s little more than a spoiled brat. This documentary was meant to solve that problem – it doesn’t but it’s fascinating nonetheless as we get full access to the inner sanctum of a modern sporting icon. eir sport 1, Mon, Nov 27th 21.30

He lives like a Roman emperor with somebody always on hand to cater to his every whim, yet his is a mostly solitary existence. He is one of the best-known sportspeople on the planet, but it is obvious that he has paid a high price for his fame and fortune. He has few friends, with the inner sanctum of his close family and agent the only people he trusts. The scale of his vanity and arrogance is truly shocking at times. This man talks the talk in the bluntest possible terms but, let us not forget, he can walk the walk too. There are very few true footballing legends, either living or dead, but Cristiano Ronaldo is one of them.

Directed by triple BAFTA and Emmy winner Anthony Wonke, Ronaldo was filmed over the course of 14 months. Running parallel with a review of his career to date – from his arrival at Sporting Lisbon from his home in Madeira at the age of 12 to his Ballon D’Or and Champions League winning exploits with Real Madrid – we get a tantalising glimpse of a day to day existence that at times borders on the surreal.

Born into a normal working class family in Funschal, Madeira, Ronaldo’s life is anything but normal now and, but for the influence of his family and his mother in particular, it is very clear that he has forgotten what normal is. Two snapshots from the documentary tell the story of what it is to be Ronaldo. The first shows him in a church at the christening of his godson. Immediately after the wetting of the baby’s head, the priest, his duty done, asks plaintively in front of the assembled congregation: “Any chance of a selfie?”

The next is an incident at Portugal’s training camp at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. With a large crowd looking on, a sobbing teenage girl manages to evade security and runs across the pitch to greet her hero who gives her a hug before sending her on her way. “He knows I exist,” she wails to a television reporter. “What did he say?” the reporter enquires. “He asked me to stay calm and stop crying.” “And what did you say back?” the reporter continues. “I asked him to follow me on Twitter,” the girl says.

Ronaldo’s relationship with his agent, Jorge Mendes, takes mutual admiration to a whole new level. Sleek, shiny, dripping money and with a phone permanently attached to his ear, Mendes is always on hand to massage his client’s ego. Not that it needs massaging as Mendes is, according to the record Champions League scorer, “the best, the Cristiano Ronaldo of agents”. ‘Nuff said really….

Like father, like son

We also get to see Ronaldo with his son, the imaginatively-named Cristiano Jr., as his father teaches him about life as the pair watch television and play together. The five-year-old is already doing sit-ups just like his father who encourages the boy to eat up if he wants to be strong “like Daddy”. One scene sees the pair down in the garage as the youngster tries to work out which of Dad’s cars has been taken away for repairs. “The Rolls, the Porsche, the Ferrari?' he guesses as he walks around a garage that is bigger than most people’s houses and filled with expensive cars. “No, the one that goes even faster than that,” his father replies. Cringe!

We also get an insight into Ronaldo’s family and upbringing and see the tight bond between him and his mother Dolores. She metaphorically travels every step with him and is overcome with nerves just watching him play. We discover that his father Dinis, a construction worker and former soldier who fought in Angola, descended into alcoholism and died young. It is clearly a huge regret for Ronaldo that his father didn’t get to see and enjoy his success.

We also get to see what drives this remarkable sportsman who has won every honour in the game and broken just about every record going. He is single-minded, determined and will not settle for anything but absolute and complete victory. Explaining why he decided to go to the World Cup even though he was carrying an injury, he says without irony: “I’m not going to lie to you. If we had two or three Cristiano Ronaldos in the team I would feel more comfortable. But we don’t.”

There is no room for humility here. He has unshakeable confidence in his ability and a steely determination to succeed which goes a long way to explaining his success. He works hard and expects his team-mates to do likewise or they will feel his wrath. That confidence remains unbowed even though he was forced to watch arch-rival Lionel Messi collect the Ballon D’Or four years running when he clearly felt that he was a more deserving recipient.

Messi is painted as something of a pantomime villain in the piece, with those in the Real Madrid executive box hoping he will do nothing to upset their star man. It’s just one more indication of how everyone walks on tiptoes around him, afraid to burst the bubble that has been built up around him. However, Ronaldo reveals that he and Messi have started now talking to one another in a way that would have been unimaginable previously, asking about each other’s families and the like. “In recent years, I’ve started seeing him as a person, not a rival,” he says.

“But we are always busting our balls to see who is better.”

Images: Getty

There are plenty of great documentaries to watch out for on the eir Sport pack every week. From football to golf, GAA, rugby, athletics and beyond, we’ve got something for everyone. Watch out next week for another fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the sporting world or go to for more sports news and stories or to find out more about how we're setting sport free.

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