EXCLUSIVE! Ronaldo’s sadness explained
SEPT 8 — Poor old Cristiano Ronaldo.
CR7, the media-shy, modest and self-effacing Real Madrid striker, has declared that he is “sad”. The bombshell was dropped after last weekend’s 3-0 win over Granada, which saw Ronaldo score two goals but fail to celebrate them due to his self-declared sadness.
The fact that he refused to elaborate on his sorry state of mind — other than mysteriously noting that “the people in the club know why” — has led to a week-long barrage of speculation about the potential sources of his anguish.
Possible explanations include disappointment over his failure to win UEFA’s best player in Europe award (which went instead to Andres Iniesta), rifts with other Madrid players, a breakdown in his relationship with Jose Mourinho and a desire for a financially improved contract.
However, for the very first time, it is my pleasure to exclusively reveal the shocking truth: Ronaldo spent the summer reading the complete works of Friedrich Nietzsche and is now suffering from a bout of severe existential angst.
The full story? Well, it all began with his intense disappointment at Portugal’s semi-final exit from this summer’s European Championships. Realising that the tournament represented his best chance of winning a major international trophy, the loss against Spain sent Ronaldo spinning into a deep depression.
At first he considered seeking solace in the bacchanalist Tony Adams approach — the former Arsenal defender, you may recall, went on an enormous drinking binge after England’s Euro 96 semi-final defeat against Germany.
But Cristiano has never been a heavy drinker, having been left mentally scarred by an unnerving session of cards-and-clothes-based drinking games with Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Ruud van Nistelrooy shortly after joining Manchester United (let’s just say he still cannot bring himself to look at a thong).
So when a few small measures of vintage cognac brought back those bad memories all too vividly, he decided to decline the path of alcohol and instead throw himself into philosophy.
A brief circuit through the introductory works of Descartes, Plato, Heraclitus and Mill (he particularly enjoyed excerpts of On Liberty, which vindicated his view of footballers as modern-day slaves) eventually led the new convert to Nietzsche — and the decisive moment in his plunge towards his current “sadness”.
The breakthrough came one tear-sodden evening in his luxurious Madrid apartment. Whilst being fed a continual supply of peeled red grapes and sun-dried tomatoes by his devoted entourage of cheerfully compliant staff, Ronaldo read the entirety of Beyond Good And Evil in one exhausting sitting, pausing only occasionally to update his Facebook status and swap a series of amusingly titillating text messages with Joao Moutinho about the relationship between Gerard Pique and Shakira.
Once he had been introduced to Nietzsche, an infatuated Cristiano could not be satiated. Within a week, Ronaldo had read every word published by the 19th-century German nihilist; within two weeks, he had re-read them and moved on to Hobbes, Spinoza and Heidegger.
And when he wasn’t reading, he was conversing with fellow philosophy junkies; he spent many long evenings on Skype, deep in animated discussion with Joey Barton and Eric Cantona, whose devotion to the teachings of Karl Marx struck him as unrealistic in a world inhabited by competitive beings.
But rather than soothe his post-Euros blues, Ronaldo’s philosophical wanderings just made him feel worse. Everything he had taken for granted was shattered. If God is Dead, as Nietzsche stated, and every human life is an irrelevant speck in the greater workings of the universe, then what’s the point of spending hours on the training ground, practising free-kicks and pouting?
Suddenly, Ronaldo found himself engulfed by a hollow emptiness that he just couldn’t shake off. True, he was no longer so concerned about Portugal’s failure in the European Championships, but that was only because he could no longer rouse himself to care about anything at all.
Towards the end of July, Ronaldo had to return to normal life with pre-season training at Real Madrid. He spoke to a few of his teammates about his deep personal concerns, but was soon dissuaded from entering into dressing room debates when Karim Benzema left shaving foam in one of his Nike swoosh trainers after a fierce argument about the merits of Baudelaire.
Jose Mourinho — a secret devotee of Sigmund Freud — was initially sympathetic, but then infuriated Ronaldo by postulating that the ultimate cause of the striker’s discontent was an unconscious envy of his father’s relationship with his mother.
Undeterred, Ronaldo consulted Florentino Perez, Madrid’s no-nonsense president, with the idea of building a “philosophy room” at the club’s training ground; a quiet space next to the press conference area for players to read and contemplate life. But the idea was immediately rejected by a baffled Perez, who cited a “lack of the necessary funds or physical space” and told Ronaldo to get back into the gym.
Spurned by Perez, angered by Mourinho and left with a slippery sock by Benzema, Ronaldo could see no way forward. A re-reading of Beyond Good And Evil last weekend only deepened the gloom, resulting in his refusal to celebrate his goals against Malaga and his enigmatic post-match rant.
So now, finally, I can tell the truth to the world. The source of Ronaldo’s discontent is not money; it’s not Messi; it’s not Mourinho: it’s Nietzsche.
However, fear not: there is salvation! During his summer splurge, Ronaldo inexplicably omitted to read one of Nietzsche’s greatest works: Also Sprach Zarathustra.
He discovered his oversight on Monday (prompted by a tweet from Sergio Ramos), and has punctuated this week’s training sessions with Portugal’s national squad by getting to grips with the book, leading to an increasingly certain conviction that Nietzsche was taking a glimpse into the future and predicting the life of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Yes, indeed. Delusional as it may be, Also Sprach Zarathustra has allowed Ronaldo to rediscover his purpose in life as the embodiment of Nietzsche’s Superman. As the great man wrote:
“I teach you the Superman. Man is something that should be overcome.”
With that one line, Cristiano’s sadness has been lifted, his mojo has been restored and Superman is poised to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.
Defenders beware! You shall be overcome!
(Footnote: Not everything stated above is strictly true.)
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.