Ranked among the world’s highest paid, most marketable and most famous professional athletes, Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s humble roots on the island of Madeira inspired his powerful drive for success and passion for helping the less fortunate. The forward for Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid has his own men’s fashion brand, CR7; lucrative endorsement deals; a long roster of charities he supports; a social media following in the hundreds of millions; a main squeeze named Georgina Rodriguez and four beautiful children.
Fame often comes at a price. How do you handle the pressure?
I really can’t complain, because I am where I always wanted to be. I knew that if I got here, I would have to deal with that side of things—to be constantly under the spotlight, without being able to do simple things like go to the movies or have dinner in a restaurant without everyone recognizing me. I admit sometimes it’s difficult, but it has much more positive aspects than negatives. I actually try to make the best out of every situation, knowing that my life has limited privacy.
How do you shield your family from all of the attention from the media and paparazzi?
I try to separate, as much as I can, the moments when I want to be private from the times when I know that this will not be possible. There are ways to make it. If we go out to public places, we know that we won’t be unnoticed. But as I said, we try to make the best of it. I have a very good and happy life. Some downsides of fame can’t be seen as a very bad thing. They are part of the life I chose and actually fought so hard to have.
When you’re not practicing, playing or promoting your brand, how do you enjoy your downtime?
I am with my family, which [recently] grew considerably with three little babies. Being with my family, my girlfriend, my friends … relaxing with them, having fun, enjoying quality time is the thing I like the most when I have time.
What inspired you to create CR7, your global brand?
I know that a lot of people look up to me in admiration for what I have achieved, coming a long way to be where I am. I had to work very hard and commit myself fully to make the best of the God-given talent I was born with. I followed my dreams. I try to be at my best in every moment. So I thought that this example, these values, would be very well blended into a brand that inspires people to follow and live their dreams.
Do you plan to expand the CR7 line?
We are open to several possibilities, but for the moment we want to consolidate work on the products we have available: CR7 Denim & Shirts, CR7 Underwear, CR7 Footwear, CR7 Fragrances and CR7 Gyms. I am very happy with the portfolio that we have for the moment, but we never know what the future will bring.
You are one of the world’s most charitable athletes. Why it is important for you to give back?
It’s the least I can do and it’s something I really enjoy doing. I know that a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to have decent lives because they are or were subject to difficult circumstances. I know I cannot help everyone or change the world, but if I can help some of them, if my example can lead others to help, too, I am sure we will ease the suffering of a lot of people and we would be giving a lot of them an opportunity to break a suffering cycle and start another in which—who knows?—they can find peace and happiness.
Is there any other sport you’d like to play professionally?
I love a lot of other sports. I admire a lot of other sports people. But to me, football was the first, second and third option. I never considered and wouldn’t imagine myself having the career I had in other sports.
Can you describe yourself in one word?
That’s a very difficult exercise! There are a few words that come to my mind. Fulfilled, blessed, thankful, achiever.
Fifty years from now, how do you want to be remembered?
As a man who followed his dreams and worked very hard until he got them, never forgetting that the most important things in life are family, friends and being a good human being with good values.