Brazil Legend Ronaldo Reveals How He Succeeded Where Others Failed & Why He Retired in 2011

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo says tireless practice and a bottomless desire helped set him apart from other young footballers growing up.

Ronaldo is regarded as one of the finest footballers ever, having won two World Cups and two Ballon d’Or awards, and the ex-Barcelona man says his desire to be one of greatest players from a young age helped him make the grade at the highest level.

He told ​the Players’ Tribune: “​For right then, I was still just one of the other little boys in our town known for playing football.

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“And I mean playing all the time. Maybe, looking back, that’s what made me different from all the other kids in Brazil who wanted to be footballers. I wasn’t just dreaming of being the greatest, but actually, truly believing it. That I really could be … one of the best who ever played.”

“I laugh thinking about it, because I don’t know where it came from, or where that thinking started.

“It was just … life … from the moment I first kicked a ball.”

Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Ronaldo

The former Real Madrid forward also revealed he practiced for hours in his family’s garden as he looked to fulfil his ambition of becoming a professional footballer.

He added: “I looked at every opportunity as a step toward becoming a professional football player. It was like a menace in my head. I couldn’t think of anything else — as much as my parents wanted me to focus on school. 

“And after that first year playing futsal, all the other steps seemed to fall into place. Part of it was luck … a lot of it was dedication. I began training the next year with São Cristóvão football club. And by the time I was 13, clubs were already looking at me. 

(FILES) In this picture taken 13 June 20

“So I went to Belo Horizonte to play for Cruzeiro. When I was 15, I got my first invite to train with the national team. When I was 16, I made my professional debut for Cruzeiro. And the next year, in 1994, I went to my first World Cup with Brazil. Like I said, it all happened so fast.

“And as much as I wanted all of it, every moment still felt like a surprise, in a way. I didn’t know what a timeline for becoming a professional was supposed to be like. There’s no plan or handbook. Sometimes it felt like I went from one day playing at school and in our backyard, to practicing with Bebeto.

“Then the World Cup came. How can I describe that 1994 World Cup? Or that team?”

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The 40-year-old says his decision to retire in 2011 came after a whole host of injury and health problems made it difficult for him to play at the level he wanted to.

He said: “For me, football was always about seeing how far I could push myself and I feel I did that for as long as I could. I had made it through another knee injury and I joined Corinthians. 

“But when other health problems made it difficult to not only play, but also to breathe, and stand up, and walk … I knew I had to stop. If I couldn’t be the player that I wanted to be on the pitch, if I couldn’t have the same feeling, then I couldn’t be out there at all.

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“In 2011, I needed to make a decision. I knew that I needed to say goodbye to football. At least, to my time on the pitch.

“But football — it’s like an addiction. For players. For fans. For everyone. It’s why it just grabs so many people all over the world. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that since I’ve stopped playing. I think about what the sport gave to me.”

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Antonio Conte Concedes Final Decision Regarding Hazard’s Future Lies ‘With the Club’

​Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that the “final decision” on the future of Eden Hazard is out of his hands.

The Belgian winger has been a long-term target of Real Madrid, and is now believed to be interesting Barcelona following their €222m sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.

Conte has stressed the importance of keeping a player of Hazard’s quality, but claimed he will have no say if Chelsea opt to cash in.

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“I expect Eden to play with Chelsea,” the Italian coach said, quoted by ​the Mirror. “But I wouldn’t know a value.

“At the moment, we are trying to improve our squad. It’s not the right moment to lose a player – any players.

“I have great consideration for this player. He is a top player. But I’m the coach. I can give my opinion but the final decision is with the club.”

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Conte appears to be growing increasingly frustrated with Chelsea’s transfer activity this summer, bemoaning the lack of strength in depth in his squad.

And asked about the sale of midfielder Nemanja Matic to Manchester United, he said: “You will have to ask the club about this.”

The Blues still have money to spend before the window shuts at the end of the month, but Conte has insisted that it should be used to bring in a number of players.

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“Now would not be the right moment for Chelsea to spend all of that money on one player,” he added. “We need a lot of players and it is important to divide this money for them.”

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Neymar Responds to Luis Figo Comparisons During Press Conference Following Move to PSG

Following Neymar’s record-breaking move to Paris Saint-Germain from FC Barcelona, the 25-year-old had to respond to a variety of questions asked at a press conference in the French capital.

One of the responses came after a question labelling him as ‘the next Luis Figo​’ was presented to him, an indication of Barcelona fans showing their frustration over Neymar’s move to another European giant. 

Neymar responded by saying: “I’ve done nothing bad, it’s difficult to answer this question.

“I’m sad about the fact that fans actually think that. I hope it’s just the minority of fans that think that. 

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“I never lacked respect to the fans.”

Neymar’s comparison to Figo by ex-Barcelona president Gaspart infers that the Brazilian has made a name for himself as a ‘traitor’ to those loyal to the Blaugrana, the same way Luis Figo did after departing for Real Madrid. 

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However, the £200m-man insists that he still has still holds a place in his hearts for the fans at the Camp Nou as he looks forward for a new challenge with the Parisians. 

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Real Madrid Hoping to Lure Man Utd Star Back to Spain Using World-Class Forward as Bait

Here we go again. New reports in Spain claim Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane and president Florentino Perez are looking to sell Gareth Bale to Manchester United in order to bring David De Gea to Santiago Bernabeu.

Jose Mourinho has been a long-time admirer of the Welshman, and although Zidane has backed the former Tottenham man on numerous occasions, he recently admitted “anything could happen” this summer regarding plans for the future. The ever-reliable Don Balon are now pedalling that these deals are not yet dead – and even that they’re interlinked.

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After a stand-out Euro 2016 campaign with Wales, expectations were high for Bale going into the 2016-17 La Liga season. However, the 28-year-old’s season was injury-filled and as a result only managed 19 La Liga appearances.

De Gea was on the verge of joining Madrid in 2015, however the deal fell through in the final minutes of the transfer deadline. Whilst he has constantly reiterated he is happy at United, reports linking him to Madrid have been continuous. 

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​Wales Online also reported that a recent poll of Madrid fans revealed more than 70% would be open to the idea of selling Bale after failing to make a real impact in the side.

De Gea isn’t the only superstar Madrid are chasing this summer, with reports also linking the Spanish giants to young French sensation Kylian Mbappe. 

The 18-year-old caught the eyes of many of Europe’s top clubs after a very impressive end to the season with Monaco in their last campaign, and has been linked with a move away from Monaco ever since the transfer window opened. If they were to sign Mbappe, Madrid would likely need to offload one of their players to pave the way for that deal to go through.

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With bitter rivals Barcelona recently losing one of their best players in Neymar to PSG, Madrid will be looking to capitalise by strengthening their squad further ahead of the new season, and in order to do so may decide to sacrifice Bale.

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AS Monaco Superstar Finally Makes Decision on Next Move Despite New Injury Concern

Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe has told the French club that he wants to leave for Real Madrid, after holding a meeting with the Spanish champions in June alongside his father.

Reports have claimed that Madrid had a £161m bid accepted by Monaco earlier in the summer – but with the fee being so high, such a transfer can take a long time to go through. However, after Neymar’s world record move to Paris Saint-Germain was confirmed this week, this could add pace to a move.

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According to Spanish news outlet AS, Mbappe has informed both Monaco and Madrid of his intention to leave his current side – despite recently taking on the number ten shirt for the French champions (switching from last season’s 29).

Neymar’s move to PSG may complicate things a little for Zinedine Zidane, though. Barcelona’s enormous £198m cash injection means that they now have the financial capability to rival Madrid – as well as Manchester City.

This could easily spark a three way tug-of-war for the 18-year-old, who is set on leaving Monaco as a result of the exodus of star players the club has undergone – two of which have made their way to City (Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy).

With Tiemoue Bakayoko also heading to the Premier League and Arsenal target Thomas Lemar looking likely to join him, Mbappe seems to want to escape the sinking ship.

However, another twist in the tale has arisen after Mbappe’s early departure from Monaco’s Ligue 1 opener against Toulouse on Friday night.

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The youngster hobbled off the pitched clutching his knee with 15 minutes to go, according to Football London – which may spell bad news for Mbappe and any suitors.

If the injury is serious enough, it could result in Mbappe staying at Monaco.

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Spanish Report Claims Eden Hazard Ready to ‘Betray’ Real Madrid as Barcelona Eye Chelsea Ace

​Eden Hazard will apparently “betray” long time suitors Real Madrid and opt to complete a sensational transfer to bitter rivals Barcelona instead.

That is the verdict of ​Don Balon, who have claimed that the Chelsea superstar will decide to head to the Nou Camp as a replacement for the departed Neymar.

Hazard is currently sidelined with a broken ankle he picked up on international duty with Belgium in June – an injury that prevented Real Madrid from making a concrete offer for his signature.

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Barcelona, though, have now earmarked the forward as a possible addition to Ernesto Valverde’s ranks and will do all that they can to poach the 26-year-old from under their fierce La Liga rivals’ noses.

Hazard is said to have told Los Blancos that he does not intend to leave Stamford Bridge for at least another 12 months, but left the door open on potentially heading to the Spanish capital at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.

Don Balon, however, have reported that Hazard is actually growing tired of waiting for Real to make a move for him, with the Spanish top flight champions working on a deal to entice Monaco wonderkid Kylian Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu instead.

That has allegedly led Hazard to hint that he would be open to a transfer to Barcelona, and hit Real where it hurts most – joining a club that they have long detested.

Whether Hazard genuinely believes that Barca would look to poach him from the current Premier League champions is up for debate, and it may just be that Don Balon are stoking the fires of a rumour that could be non-existent to begin with.

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Hazard is expected to be on the treatment table at Chelsea’s Cobham training base for many more weeks, and possibly months, to come as he continues his rehabilitation.

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Ex-Barcelona President Pulls No Punches & Compares Neymar to ‘Undignified’ Luis Figo

Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart has given a damning interview regarding departing star Neymar, who has left Camp Nou for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record shattering deal. 

Gaspart – who was in charge of Barcelona when Luis Figo controversially moved to arch rivals Real Madrid – has likened Neymar to the Portuguese midfielder, claiming “they are two players who go through the back door”.

Neymar’s £198m transfer to PSG has finally gone through after much speculation, and while the Catalan club find themselves with a new influx of cash powerful, there are many who are aggrieved by the nature of the transfer.

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“Neymar is going to be inside the chapter of Figo. I was alone and he is already accompanied by Neymar. There are already two players who go through the back door,” Gaspart told Cadena SER.

“I have seen great players like Maradona and like Ronaldo, who also left Barca because other clubs paid their clause, but they left in a dignified way. Without much comedy or so much story.

“I did not like anything about the attitude that he has had with the club, with the partners, with the teammates, and so that it goes well for him.”

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Gaspart continued with his rant on Neymar, claiming that the 25-year-old takes full blame for any anger caused for the Blaugrana fans.

“I love you, I do not love you, I love you, I do not love you, because now we are the ones who decide that we do not love you.”

“It hurts me that people who I appreciate and respect greatly take advantage of this circumstance to blame anyone. It is the fault of Neymar, who has decided to play with us for a month.”

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With Neymar now officially gone, Barcelona now have the challenge of finding a suitable replacement. The likes of Philippe Coutinho​​ and Ousmane Dembele have both been linked.

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Roma Battle Newcastle for Real Madrid Starlet Lucas Vázquez as Alternative to Riyad Mahrez

​After Roma have stalled in negotiations for Leicester star Riyad Mahrez, the Serie A side have instead turned their attentions to Real Madrid winger Lucas Vázquez.

According to Italian transfer guru ​Gianluca di Marzio, the Giallorossi are targeting a number of midfielders in the post-Francesco Totti era following his retirement. 

The 2016/17 Serie A runners up have grown tired of Leicester’s unrealistic price tag for Mahrez, and have now changed targets with their focus switched to Vázquez.

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The 26-year-old winger, who is equally adept on either side of the midfield, has struggled for first team minutes under manager Zinedine Zidane following the huge number of options at the Frenchmen’s disposal.

When Cristiano Ronaldo was rested last year for the important fixtures and Gareth Bale was injured, Zidane instead opted for the likes of Isco and Marco Asensio as stand ins.

With his options limited in the Real Madrid first team, Vázquez could move on in an attempt to find regular game time, as World Cup 2018 approaches.

The Spanish international will be eyeing a place in the national team squad, so a move to Serie A could be feasible, as reports suggest Roma’s sporting director Monchi is frustrated in the pursuit of Mahrez.

As Vázquez considers a move elsewhere, compatriot Rafa Benitez has also shown an interest in the midfielder who notched seven assists from the bench last season in La Liga. 

Although Vázquez is clinging on to a small hope that he could play a role at the Santiago Bernabéu, a move to the Premier League could be a great proposition.

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Playing under the former Valencia coach on a regular basis could suit both parties, as Newcastle eye a sustained period in the English top-flight. Now the speedy winger has to choose which will be the best option for his career as Roma and Newcastle vie for his signature.

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Real Madrid Midfielder Claims Manager Zinedine Zidane Coaches Like a German

Toni Kroos has compared the coaching style of Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane to that of a German coach. 

Speaking to Marca, the German International said that Zidane demands a lot from his players in training as well as in matches, but knows this style of coaching is a major reason that Madrid have been so dominant since Zidane has been in charge. 

“We are all working very hard, especially during the first few weeks of pre-season. Zidane sometimes seems German due to the work that he has done with us,” he said.

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“He has made it clear that he always wants the hard work in training to be replicated in games.”

Real Madrid finished their pre-season tour of the United States on Wednesday night with a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over the MLS All-Stars, but Zidane is not pleased with his team’s performances going into the La Liga season.

After losses to Manchester City, Man United and Barcelona, Zidane spoke to  ESPN, saying: “The sensation overall is not good, It’s good that we got the result, but the sensation is not positive overall. We only won one out of four games.

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Los Blancos start their La Liga campaign away at Deportivo La Coruna, and Zidane will be hoping that his teams pre-season form does not continue. 

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Kylian Mbappe Has Choice Between Real Madrid & Barcelona After Deciding to Leave Monaco

Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe has taken one step towards resolving the issue of his future after reportedly deciding that he’s ready to leave the principality club sooner rather than later and seek to carve out the next stage of his career on an even bigger stage.

This significant update has come from L’Equipe in France, with Mbappe said to only be considering a small handful of potential clubs.

Real Madrid are thought to have been leading the chase for the 18-year-old for some time, while Arsenal, Manchester City and even Liverpool have been credited with interest in recent weeks and months. But it increasingly looks as though the youngster’s final decision will be between Los Blancos and Barcelona, who will be fresh from a €222m windfall after selling Neymar.

It was recently claimed by reports in Spain that Real had ‘agreed’ a deal with Monaco worth €180m, but the latest round of gossip suggests Barça are now very much on the scene.

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There was even a rumour originating from Madrid-based El Pais last month that Real president Florentino Perez feared that Mbappe actually had a deal in place with Barça.

Despite Mbappe’s apparent desire to join Real – the player is believed to have previously turned them down at the age of 14 because he felt he was too young to leave home – at face value, a summer switch to Camp Nou looks like a better bet in light of Neymar’s soon-to-be finalised exit.

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Assurances over consistent playing time have always been crucial for Mbappe. He has made it clear he wouldn’t want to move to sit on the bench and there remains an element of doubt in Madrid because of the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

In Catalunya, Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain crucially leaves a readymade hole to be filled and a move there seems less complicated. The cash from the sale will also give Barça the means to pay Monaco’s asking price, which they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford.

Yet speaking El Larguero on Cadena Ser, Spanish journalist Sique Rodriguez explained that while Barcelona have ‘asked’ for Mbappe, he believes the player will still end up with Real in the capital, leaving Barça to instead focus on prising Paulo Dybala away from Juventus.

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