Ronaldo facing voracious Spanish press

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 7, 2009 at 12:11 PM EST

After his triumphant unveiling at Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo now faces the challenge of dealing with Spain's voracious press despite his stated desire to lead a "quiet" life in Spain and focus on winning titles.

"I'm going to watch TV at home, quiet, with my feet on the table", he told a news conference late on Monday where he faced repeated questions over his capacity to deal with the temptations of Madrid's lively nightlife.

"I worked hard to get here, I am not going to go sleep under a banana tree now," the 24-year-old Portuguese striker added after being presented before a record-setting crowd of 80,000 fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

His statements were greeted with scepticism Tuesday by the Spanish media, given Ronaldo's flamboyant personality and the media circus that surrounded the arrival of a the player who is rich, young, handsome -- and unmarried.

"We have a globally known footballer as well as a potential cover of Vogue," wrote daily newspaper El Mundo, adding Ronaldo does not hate nightlife as shown by his recent flirtation with Hollywood socialite Paris Hilton.

Real acquired the player from Manchester United last month on a six-year deal worth 94 million euros (131 million dollars) and he will reportedly be paid 13 million euros each season, making him the most expensive player in the world.

In a country where gossip magazines and television shows dedicated to celebrities are an institution, the Portuguese playmaker risks being pursued at all times by the camaras and smitten women.

"He is going to have the paparazzi at his door at all hours, and being single, in Madrid the press is going to claim three or four different women are his girlfriend everyday," said Atletico Madrid's former Portuguese international Paulo Futre.

"Ronaldo is responsible for the most expensive transfer of all time, is involved in marketing campaigns and in Spain the gossip press is very influential. This is an explosive mixture," he told daily Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha.

Futre recommended that Ronaldo live outside of Madrid, not leave his home other than to go to work and get a permanent girlfriend if he wants to keep the media at bay.

Real director general Jorge Valdano denied he had also recommended that 2008 FIFA world player of the year quickly get a girlfriend but he acknowledged that he was concerned about Spain's gossip press.

"The sports media do not concern me, the sports press is very respectful in this country," he said at the press conference after Ronaldo was unveiled.

Real has developed a major security operation device to protect the player against "overly passionate fans and press people", according to sports daily AS.

Ronaldo will depart this weekend for a ten day summer training session in Ireland with the rest of his new Real teammates which should temporarily relieve him of the intense media pressure he is now under.

After that Spanish media have already reported that he will move into a 1,500 square metre apartment in a building with a swimming pool on the roof.

Ronaldo's appearances at nightclubs and vacations in Hollywood contrast sharply with the lifestyle of Real's other new star, Brazilian midfielder Kaka, a married evangelical Christian who does not drink alcohol.

"There is a time to work and another to enjoy life," said Ronaldo in a comment that suggests that he does not intend to spend every night watching TV at home.

At the same time Ronaldo acknowledged that he would face even stronger pressure in Madrid, both on and off the court, than during his six years in England, where fans and the media and also demanding.




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