LONDON: The most important date of the year for Cristiano Ronaldo has nothing to do with Real Madrid’s big “clasico” games against Barcelona. Or crucial Champions League matches. Or representing Portugal on international duty.
According to Ronaldo, it’s when he takes a private jet on the annual January trip to Zurich to discover if he will be crowned the world’s top player at FIFA’s Ballon D’Or extravaganza.
“It’s a card inside an envelope that can change so much,” Ronaldo says in a new documentary about his life that was premiered Monday in London.
“It’s the climax of a year’s work.”
Ronaldo’s obsession with winning football’s top individual honor is a major theme in the 92-minute documentary, which opens with the 2014 gala and closes with the 2015 triumph.
What Ronaldo is less keen to talk about is the governing body behind the coveted golden ball or the president – Sepp Blatter – who has presented him with it three times.
Promoting his film in London on Monday, a news conference moderator initially tried to cut off question to Ronaldo about FIFA and what the star player expects from the scandal-battered organization which runs the game.
But Ronaldo, perhaps sensing he was being seen as weak, quickly cut in: “I am not afraid of anything … I answer what I think.”
Only he didn’t.
“Of course I’m not going to speak about that because when Cristiano says something it’s creates like a huge thing,” Ronaldo said, referring to himself in the third person. “I’m not going to be involved in these kinds of problems.”
Pressed further on why players are seen afraid of speaking out on the state of FIFA, Ronaldo was no more revealing.
“What do you expect me to say? I’m so happy? Of course I’m a little bit sad because of yesterday,” he said, referring not to FIFA but Real Madrid’s first loss of the season.
“I don’t want to (think about) yesterday on this day because it’s such a special day for me. It is one of the most important days in my life.”
For Ronaldo getting his own film premiere in London’s Leicester Square seems to be an occasion on par with Champions League finals – and Ballon D’Or galas.
Already the player with one of the biggest egos in the game – justifiably given his goal scoring exploits at Manchester United and now Madrid – Ronaldo is elated at becoming a silver screen star thanks to the team behind movies about Formula One driver Ayrton Senna and troubled songstress Amy Winehouse.
This is a film, though, that’s unlikely to win Ronaldo any cinematic honors to join the vast collection of football medals – unless awards are given for shots of footballers preening in the showers and shaving.
But there are touching scenes with Ronaldo seen as a doting father, playing with Cristiano Jr. in his Madrid home.
Recent media reports are used in the film to highlight the mystery over the identity of his son’s mother. Ronaldo has full custody of Cristiano Jr. and says that when he is older “then I will tell him what I did.”
Cristiano Jr. is seen living a closeted life, never mixing on camera with other children. His father lives a similar existence.
“In football I do not have a lot of friends … most of the time I am alone,” Ronaldo says. “I consider myself to be an isolated person … disconnected from the world.”
Perhaps Ronaldo’s tender care for his son is because his own troubled upbringing with a father who drank himself to death 10 years ago.
“I wanted a different father,” Ronaldo says in a rare revealing moment in the film that isn’t about self-promotion.
His father figure now is agent Jorge Mendes, whose fortune has been built by representing players like Ronaldo – including his then world-record 80 million-pound (then $120 million) switch from United to Madrid in 2009. Much of the film morphs into a homage to Mendes, the super-agent in the sharp black suit, black tie and shades.
“If I didn’t know you I’d ask for your autograph,” Mendes says to Ronaldo at a celebratory dinner. “I live obsessed with him every day.”
Ronaldo’s biggest fan, though, seems to be himself.
“If we had two or three Cristiano Ronaldos in the (Portugal) team I would be more comfortable,” he said, reflecting on last year’s World Cup group-stage failure.
“But we don’t have.”