Cristiano Ronaldo at GQ España
FYI, Cris has scored six goals during his last five visits to the Camp Nou, and he would like to score one tonight to dedicate it to Pepe, who turns 30 today. If he does indeed score, he’ll become the first player in the history of the clásicos to score in six consecutive away games. And speaking of Cris, GQ España published this lovely interview with him in the March edition. It’s a good thing that the interview is so great, because the styling is anything but.
I meet up with Cristiano inside the Matadero Madrid. It’s just him and me, and the photographer, of course. And his assistants. And three stylists. And the make-up artist. And perhaps some bodyguards. And Irina Shayk, the seductress, defying gravity on eight-centimeter-high heels. However, in some way, it’s really just the two of us: who else, except us, would have the temptation to speak about Ronald Reagan? Who else but us would be able to strike up a conversation about abs and strengthening the core? The interview was prepared a while ago, but perhaps due to the location, I don’t want to begin with a question, but rather with an apology, for all the times my journalist colleagues have dirtied their hands with gratuitous rumors, for all the times they have made mincemeat out of him.
As if it’s easy being better than everyone else, with the exception of (perhaps) one: Messi. One of the few certainties about the future is that however many records Messi will break and whatever new criteria will be found to measure them, CR7 will try to surpass that, in this eternal battle between two different but equal perfections. Another thing is knowing if the battlefield will continue to be our Liga. There are many things that indicate that this will be his last season with Madrid. And it’s not pessimism. Today, we have a friendly, inquisitive and smiling Cristiano in front of us, and he also appears to be happy. Perhaps it’s because that at the end of the interview, it’s Irina who is waiting for him, not Messi.
Is is true that you were named Ronaldo for Ronald Reagan, as your dad was a fan of his?
Yes and no. My mother was the real fan.
Yes. My father went around saying that the idea for the name was his, but it’s true that the real Reagan fan was my mamá.
And was she a fan of the president or of the actor?
What party did he belong to?
The Republican Party, I believe.
The Democratic Party.
If you could, would you have voted for him or for Mitt Romney?
For Obama. I have a good impression of him. He seems to be the right man to lead the United States.
Have you ever seen any of Ronald Reagan’s movies?
I don’t remember doing so.
Do you like Westerns, movies with Indians and cowboys?
Not that type of Indians, at home we watched real Indian movies, those from Bollywood.
Who is responsible for the Portuguese clan?
I have a ton of friends in Real Madrid, not only my compatriots. Obviously, in the beginning I mixed more with people like Pepe or Kaká because we speak a common language, but that doesn’t mean there is a clan.
Perhaps what you need is to win a bit more.
Trophies are very important, but the rest is as well. Real Madrid is the biggest club in the world, and people expect us to always be perfect. I believe there is always room to improve.
And what’s going on with your image?
People see me in the way they want to. I just try and be myself.
Do you read the sports press?
I’m not the type of person that, when I do things poorly, look for criticism in the newspapers and on TV. But criticism is part of our business, we have to live with it. What hurts me the most is the criticism for issues off of the field. It doesn’t bother me when it’s about the way I play, because, I repeat, I’m the first one to realize when I make a mistake.
Do you watch all the games you play?
Not all of them, but the majority yes. It’s useful for me to review my game to see where I could have done better.
Can you sleep after a loss?
If we’re talking about an important game – a semifinal or final of a big tournament – then obviously, I don’t sleep well. And not only on that night, I don’t even sleep well on the following two or three nights. But losing is one of the disadvantages of this profession.
Including playing in Real Madrid?
Of course. It shouldn’t happen. But it does.
Is it a burden for you to not have won anything with your national team?
It’s much more difficult to win with your national team than with your club. Portugal has given me the opportunity to play high level games and has placed important goals within my reach: we got to the final in 2004, the semifinals in 2006 and also in last year’s Eurocopa; that is a feat. And we are still a young team.
Has there been any defeat that affected you more than others?
The Eurocopa semifinal against Spain. Losing in penalties is always painful. Losing after 120 minutes of hard work is even more so.
Did you cry?
I have on other occasions, but on that night, no.
After a loss, do you prefer to be alone or to share your frustrations with someone?
I prefer to spend the time with my girlfriend and my friends.
Do you only hate losing on the field, or in life in general?
I’m competitive in everything I do.
Is is true that you do 3,000 sit-ups every day?
I follow a program for core strength, but of course I don’t count the number of exercises I do. I just do them.
Core strength? What is that?
It’s a program that includes elements of balance and stability, with work for the abdomen, the lower back and all the muscles in the torso.
How much time do you spend on your body each day?
I wouldn’t know what to tell you. We practice in the mornings, I work out in the gym in the afternoons, but I also find time to relax.
Why do you do it?
Because football demands that of us each day. If you want to play well on the field, you have to eat well, to sleep well, to train well and to turn off the switch in those rare moments when you can during the season.
Do you spend the same amount of time on your mind and spirit?
Of course. The psychological preparation for a game is as important as the physical preparation. When you play, you have to be focused, but also calm.
What is your worst quality?
I have many, but if I had to say just one, I would say that I’m very stubborn.
Were you also stubborn as a kid?
A lot less. Now I am more.
Do you like yourself more now or when you were a child?
I don’t believe I have changed much. At times my career has obligated me to put up a wall between everyone else and me, but my character has not changed.
What were you like as a child?
I would say normal.
Friends, football, family…
Yes. Madeira is a great place to spend your childhood. I played with my friends every day, and even then, I dreamed of becoming a professional footballer.
Did you have any posters in your room?
No. Nothing. There wasn’t any space. I shared a room with my brother and the furniture covered the walls.
What is your first memory related to football?
I don’t have any memories of my life before I discovered football. I always had a ball with me: at school, on the streets, everywhere.
Were you always an attacker?
Yes, from the time I was a kid. As a winger or as a forward center.
Do you remember what the shirt of your first team was like?
My first real shirt was that of the team in Funchal, Nacional da Madeira, which was black and white. I was seven years old the first time I put it on, and I was very excited.
And your first goal?
All I remember is that I was very excited.
Who took you to your games?
My parents. Papá never missed a game.
What was it like to leave home?
I knew that it was the only way to make my dream a reality. But it was the most difficult decision of my life. I was completely alone, I was only 11, and in a big city that is Lisbon. I missed my mother, my family, my friends. Everything. The only thing that kept me going was the support of the people I loved. I would never have been able to do it without them.
And your move to England?
I was young but mature. All my memories of Manchester are positive. I was there six years, and that was when I became a world famous player.
Do you remember the first words you exchanged with Ferguson when you met him?
“Be professional, be yourself, focus on your goals and never lose faith.”
Did you ever have any discussions with him?
We had some disagreements, but that is normal for two people who work together for so long at the highest level. I only have gratitude towards Ferguson. He’s fantastic as a coach and as a player.
Would you like to work with him again?
Working with the best professionals is always an honor.
The same goes for Mourinho, of course.
I guess the theme of the photoshoot was “moody”?
Do you see yourself as a coach in the future?
Football is my life. I would like to remain in this world, including after I stop playing. But at the moment, I’m going to focus on the years I have left as a player. We’ll see what happens afterward.
Would you like your son to become a footballer?
That would be fantastic.
The same name, the same career… that’s a pretty big legacy.
That depends on him. I would like for that to happen, but if he decides not to do it, there won’t be any problems. I will always respect his decision.
Does he kick the ball as hard as you?
(Smiles) He’s still small, but yes, I would say yes.
If he hurries, perhaps we can see the two of you playing together.
Who knows. That never occurred to me, but now that you have mentioned it, why not?
What would you have done if you hadn’t become a footballer?
I ask myself this once in a while.
And how do you answer yourself?
That I don’t know, probably I would do the same thing that my siblings did: sales assistant, construction worker. Something related to style.
That Cristiano, so arrogant, cocky and rude.
The crotch area is REALLY tight, isn’t it?