In a stellar career, Ronaldo dazzled with his speed, feints and clinical nishing, skills he harnessed to score more than 60 goals for Brazil and 247 for senior clubs until his retirement in 2011. He scored 83 of those club goals for Real Madrid, anointed by FIFA as the best club of the 20th Century. Men’s Health caught up with Ronaldo in Melbourne, first stop for the Real Madrid World of Football Experience, beginning June 9.
MH: What is so special about Real Madrid?
R: All the great players who've passed through. All the titles. And the most fans in the world. I think this makes Real Madrid deserving of being called club of the century.
Whats the can't miss element of Real Madrid World of Football Experience?
For sure it's going to be a great opportunity for Australian fans to feel close to the club. Top might be that they're going to feel like they're inside the Santiago Benabéu Stadium.
Given your experience in 1998 and 2002, you know what it's like to carry the hopes of a nation into a World Cup. What specific things did you do to handle the pressure?
You have to focus on what you're doing and not what you might be feeling. What are your priorities? And, very simple, you have to do things one at a time. For sure, I knew about the pressure. But the pressure comes because you're capable of playing to a certain standard. Make sure you are in the best physical condition to play to that standard. And there is another way to look at the pressure: when things go well, the pressure becomes compliments.
Brazil were champions in 2002. What are the qualities a team needs to win a World Cup?
Many, many things you have to put together. But first of all you have to play as a team. You have to trust your teammates. For sure the individuals have to have the skills and the quality. But if your team is not unified you cannot win.
You were among the Galacticos at Real Madrid. How did a team with so many stars - and presumably healthy egos - devolop the kind of unity and spirit you're talking about?
When you get to Real Madrid you learn how big the club is and that you must play for the club. So, for sure, to put the best players together is not easy. But history says Real Madrid wasn't just home for the best players. Real Madrid knows how to win.
Who's going to win the World Cup in Russia?
Brazil is very strong, with amazing players - Gabriel Jesus, [Philippe] Coutinho, Neymar - and the younger players will come through. I think we're strong enough to win but it's always difficult to predict these things. I hope Brazil can win.