Ronaldo, World Cup 2002 winner, is widely regarded as one of the game’s all-time greats. He spent five years of his playing career at Real Madrid between 2002 and 2007, with Italian coach Capello arriving in 2006 to spend just one half of a season with the Brazilian.
Persistent injuries saw to it that Ronaldo’s time on the pitch in his final two campaigns at the Santiago Bernabeu was limited, but it seems the centre-forward’s fitness issues on the field didn’t affect his time off of it.
“He used to throw parties and all sorts of stuff. Once, Van Nistelrooy came to me and said, ‘coach, the dressing room smells like alcohol’.”
At that time, Madrid fans had been crying out for silverware after a dry spell.
“When Ronaldo went to Milan, we started to win,” he added. “But if we’re talking about talent then he was the greatest. Without a doubt.”
Capello insists their neither individual harbours any ill will over their time spent together in the Spanish capital, stating that the pair speak “warmly and pleasantly” any time they cross each other’s path.
Roberto Carlos, another Brazil and Madrid Galactico, had recently suggested coach Vicente del Bosque let the players train in the afternoons on Mondays and Tuesdays because they were still recovering from the excesses of their weekend down-time.
Luis Figo quickly objected. ‘I don’t remember ever training in the afternoon with Vicente del Bosque,’ said Figo. ‘Roberto is my friend and you have to love him the way he is.’
Carlos had suggested Jose Antonio Camacho [one of Del Bosque’s successors] had lasted ’10 days’ as Real Madrid coach because he had told the players they would have to train at 7am.
He also said Brazilian coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo lasted just three months because he took beer and wine off the dinner table the night before games.
Carlos also reminisced about meeting Zinedine Zidane, Figo and David Beckham in the private departures lounge of Madrid airport after games where each would have a private jet waiting to fly them off somewhere, despite having to return to training the day after next.
The private estate of luxury houses in the Moraleja neighbourhood of northern Madrid was where most of the Galacticos drove their club Audis home to after training – through the late afternoon traffic if Carlos is to be believed. The exclusive estate was home to the great Brazilian striker.
Ronaldo’s house parties were legendary. They also very soon became of huge interest to Spain’s tabloid TV shows that brought the private lives of the country’s celebrities into the living rooms of the nation every Friday and Saturday night.
Ronaldo’s birthday bash every September was a particular highlight of the Galactico calendar. President Perez went to great lengths to protect his players from the adverse publicity exposure would bring. But there was a limit to how much a player such as Ronaldo really cared.
In one exchange between Ronaldo and the president – understood to have taken place in a meeting called by Perez at an exclusive Madrid hotel, with Carlos also in attendance, the president said to Ronaldo: ‘Why can’t you stay home like Figo?’
Ronaldo himself has repeated over the years that his reply to Perez was: ‘If I had at home what Figo has at home I would never leave the house either.’ The comment was a reference to Figo’s supermodel wife, Helen Svedin.
Ronaldo, now 43 years old, is the major shareholder in La Liga side Real Valladolid owning 82% as of April 2020.