At the age of 39, Ryan Giggs is a great example of a model professional, from a footballing prospective at least. Off the pitch he takes care about what foods he consumes, in what quantities he needs in order to maintain the condition he is in. No junk food, little to no alcohol and the right amount of frit and vegetables has help Giggs to prolong his career. But for those players who have retired from the game, the new-found spare time and lack of need to stay in peak condition has led some to binge on those things that were forbidden during their playing years.
Brazilian legend Ronaldo is one such player. After been forced to retire last year, Ronaldo remained in the public eye, most notably as part of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup organising committee. His role brought greater responsibilities to his life and was strongly tipped to take over as President of Brazil Soccer Federation 2014 from exiting Ricardo Teixeira before Jose Maria Marin was appointed to the role. But over the same period he has spent the better part of that time indulging himself which saw his weight balloon. The media, both in Brazil and abroad, has not been kind to Ronaldo during this time. They have repeatedly mocked him for the extra pounds he had piled on and made sure that whenever he was out in public with his shirt off, a photographer was near by to take an embarrassing shot.
In his day, Ronaldo was one of the most feared strikers with a glittering career playing for PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan and eventually Corinthians where injury, not age finally forced him to retire. The three-time FIFA player of the year’s goalscoring record as a player was phenomenal both for club and country. He scored an incredible 280 goals in 384 combined appearances for his various clubs and an additional 68 goals for Brazil, winning 98 caps in the process. But until recently Ronaldo looked like a shadow of his former self, even in his final few years of playing when his injuries caught up with him, Ronaldo struggled with his weight.
But now, Ronaldo has managed to shed the weight and is back looking more like his glory days. After joining a TV show dedicated to celebrity weight loss, Ronaldo shed 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds) and now displays defined abs rather than a buddha belly. In the “Fantastico” variety show, viewers watch with interest as the former striker was put through his paces and intense exercise routines, which included weight lifting, swimming, dance and yoga classes and forays onto the football pitch. On the pitch, Ronaldo’s confidence looks like it has returned and the skill that never deserted him, has resurfaced.
Ronaldo, now fitter than he has been for over two years, will be able to show to the world his new physique in the 10th annual United Nations all-star charity football game, due to be held in Brazil this month. The game, which will also feature his close friend, Zinedine Zidane was the inspiration that Ronaldo needed to finally lose the weight and is now looking forward to playing in the match. But the focus for the Brazilian legend has been clear from the start. As a founder of the Match against Poverty with Zidane, the message is not about his change to his personal health but about those who struggle around the world with poverty:
“The struggle against poverty is not a game. But we use this match to raise both funds and awareness that the solution is in everyone’s hands. Working together we will all be winners in the Match Against Poverty. At the tenth match we will use the proceeds to support solutions in my own country, as well as another programme in Africa in which Brazil is actively engaged in,”