Recently Ronaldo Nazario released a documentary film on his career and the promotional interviews have proved an intriguing insight into the mind of a modern football great. The phenomenal Brazilian is currently President of Real Valladolid and recently acquired Brazilian side Cruzeiro too.
Speaking to The Guardian following the release of the film in Madrid last Friday, Ronaldo opened up on his mental struggles as a superstar. He already done so at the premiere, but gave some fresh details, even calling his battles beautiful.
“I didn’t understand why so many bad things were happening to me. If everyone loves me, I’m a good person, honest, funny sometimes, why? It was so hard. The decisions someone so young, just 22, had to take. All the pressure, and without psychological help.”
Ronaldo’s well-publicised seizure ahead of the 1998 World Cup was one of the low-points of his career and dealing with that took plenty out of him.
“It wasn’t something really talked about, a thing. Nowadays we talk a lot about the mental health of sports people. In that era, we were gladiators: they threw us into the arena and let’s see who comes out alive. The pressure pushed me ever further down. You’re so young you don’t know how to manage it. It has a cost. I’ve learned talking by taking hostias [hits]. It was hard, but it was beautiful.”
Nowadays, away from the pressure of football on the pitch, Ronaldo cuts a jovial figure and seems to be enjoying things as a football entrepreneur. It appears that the conversation is gradually moving on as more and more footballers open up on their mental health.