LISBON: Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is already looking towards life after football as he unveiled plans to invest over EUR37 million ($40m) in hotels bearing his ‘CR7′ moniker in his native Portugal, Madrid and New York.
“Many footballers finish their careers without knowing what they want to do. For me it’s clear – I want to take care of my brands,” Ronaldo told AFP on Thursday.
The triple Ballon d’Or winner unveiled his plans to link up with the Pestana Hotel Group, who like him are natives of Madeira, with ‘CR7′ hotels planned in three cities linked to his career – Funchal, Lisbon and Madrid – and another in New York where he has been linked with Major League Soccer in the future.
“At 30 years I still have a lot of options, I have great support around me, I’m really very happy,” insisted Ronaldo, adding “other projects will come. What I want is that my name will always be the best in whatever domain I work”.
Ronaldo already looked at ease in his grey businessman’s suit and red tie as he discussed his plans for the future in the lounge of one of Pestana’s luxury hotels in Lisbon.
Although he hopes his footballing career will continue “another six, seven or even ten years”, it is out of the question that he will follow a career on the touchline.
“I don’t see myself as a coach, it’s not my ambition,” he said. “But who knows if I’ll change my mind!”
Born in a working class area in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, Ronaldo was scouted aged 11 by Sporting Lisbon.
He went on to play for Manchester United before joining Real Madrid in 2009 and has a contract which runs until 2018.
The best paid footballer in the world with EUR70 million ($76.6m) in earnings last year, Ronaldo already has a ‘CR7′ fashion line, and has lent his image to many other brands.
But he has not forgotten his roots and it is on his native island that he will open his first hotel.
“Madeira is the most important starting point for me,” he said.
The first hotel will open there in summer 2016 and will be followed by another in Lisbon where Ronaldo moved as a youngster with a Madrid site planned for 2017.
“My world is that of football but life changes and I always wanted to own a hotel,” he explained.
“It was impossible to throw myself alone into a project of this scale, to each his own area of competence. Pestana is the best Portuguese group in this business.
“The first project will be born in Madeira, where our roots and our families are,” explained the 123-times capped international, adding that the hotel will be located close to the museum dedicated to his career that he financed at Funchal.
“All investments are split on a 50-50 basis” between Ronaldo and the hotel group, for a total of sum of EUR75 million ($81m), explained Dionisio Pestana, owner and son of the founder of the hotel group.
Pestana, founded in Madeira in 1972, is the biggest hotel group in Portugal and is present in 16 countries across Europe, Africa and America with 87 hotels, six golf courses and two casinos, with an annual turnover of EUR222 million ($240m).