Ronaldo Nazário has a busy schedule at the best of times and even more so when he also has a new documentary to promote. But the Brazilian legend was happy to sit down with AS for a few minutes talk about E classic, the World Cup, Vinicius, Benzema and the Ballon d’Or as well as his most recent project. His new documentary The phenomenon (DAZN) premiered last night at Callao Cinemas in Madrid before the world premiere on Friday, October 21. Life can be hectic right now but Ronaldoas always, was all smiles and too happy to chat.
How’s life ?
Good! He treats me well! To tell you the truth, everything is perfect. It’s been a difficult year with two promotions (Valladolid and Cruzeiro), I’m very happy, but I have a lot of work… Today (yesterday) was a very good day for the premiere of the documentary, but also a long day.
Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima or The phenomenon. What is the history of your nickname?
The original nickname comes from Italy. In Italian it would be The phenomenon, but as you want… I adopted it with great enthusiasm, but I must admit that at the same time it caused me a lot of pressure for many years! (Laughs)
What was your name during your childhood?
Dadado. That’s the nickname my brothers gave me. It was the first word I could say so it stuck. Today I use it for my online video game competitions. I am a big fan.
What secrets the new documentary The phenomenon reveal about Ronaldo that nobody knows?
It contains many anecdotes that have never been published before and I am sure you will enjoy it. There is mostly a lot of drama. From the World Cup final in France 98 with what happened throughout the day until we arrived at the stadium… The match, losing the final against France… A At the time, when I thought it was going to get better, they actually got worse later with injuries…
What happened that day? Were you close to death?
Well, yes… I went to take a nap as usual before every game and woke up shortly after surrounded by everyone in my room… There they told me what happened to me. ‘had arrived. The famous crisis didn’t scare me because I was thinking about the final and I wanted to play it. When I was taken to the hospital, we took great care to do all the necessary tests to be calm. Once any health issues were ruled out, I ran to the stadium. I wanted to play… It was a World Cup final! How could I miss it!
Was it the hardest episode or the limit of your career?
Yes. Especially since it was the beginning of the Internet era. Information traveled very quickly. And we were learning from it all. As you know, the World Cup is a huge event and is followed all over the world. So yes, it was very hard.
Brazil lost that final, but you won two World Cups…
Yes. That’s what it’s about. Telling my whole career with the drama of injuries, convalescence, the threat of not being able to play football again… My injury was very serious. There was no context, no story or clues on how to cure him… And yes. In the end we won the World Cup in Korea and Japan even though I had very bad memories of France. This experience scared me, but hey, I found solutions along the way. Everything is told in the film.
We also learned about your fear of airports. Do you still suffer from it?
It’s something I always carry with me. The airport is the place in the world where I feel most vulnerable. I’m in a position where I’m known all over the world, so I still carry the trauma a bit, but being with people, whenever I can, is what I love the most. It is true that at the beginning it was crazy. And when I was playing, we weren’t very protected either… The truth is that they just threw us there, right in the middle of the crowd! (Laughs). But now, yes, years later, we are trying to find solutions to escape the crowds.
This is The classic on Sunday! Who do you think will win?
The classic is The classic. Real Madrid have the advantage of playing at home. They have a brilliant team – like Barca, who are also a great team this season. I have already suffered with my team against them at the Camp Nou; also when they beat us 0-4… I guess Real Madrid have a small advantage because they play at the Bernabéu. It will be a fun game to watch.
Should Vinicius keep dancing?
Yes. I think Vinicius needs to keep dancing. It’s been completely unnecessary controversy, as I explained in a tweet. Her dancing doesn’t bother anyone. Her dancing doesn’t kill anyone. Sometimes I had parties with dances… I had this bunny party, silly parties… It doesn’t matter! It’s such a special moment that you have to take advantage of it. But no racism. Racism kills. Racism excludes. This is what we have to fight against.
One last question. There is talk of Karim Benzema as the next Ballon d’Or during Monday’s gala. Deserved?
Yes. Fully deserved.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the premiere of The phenomenon.
Thanks a lot.