Cristiano Ronaldo the biography by Guillem Balague review
By Toni-lea Poll
I chose to review Guilem Balague’s biography constructed to detail the life and footballing career of one of the sport’s most highly decorated, publicised and renowned figures, Cristiano Ronaldo. Having personally conversed and followed Ronaldo closely since his Sporting Lisbon days, Balague reveals the ins and outs of Ronaldo’s most personal moments, making this a spectacular read for those who like myself, want to delve into the realities of his life, away from Ronaldo’s persona he works so hard to propel.
The book starts with his journey as a young Madeiran boy with a love of football and follows his career all the way through to his time at Juventus. Balague is in constant reference to Ronaldo’s struggles within himself that stem from the loss of his father to alcoholism, and the continuing battle of pulling his brother out from substance abuse. His mother Dolores is branded as the “pillar of the family”. Her influence is often accredited as profound, both in Cristiano’s personal life and career, Balague acknowledges her as the only continuous female presence in his life.
However, the key hypothesis and message that is most captivating in the book is Balague’s curiosity with Ronaldo’s obsession to seek a form of love wherever he goes “Ronaldo is the axis to which his world
He seeks to satisfy an empty hole in his heart that has been abandoned since his childhood and more noticeably since the death of his late father Dinis Aveiro. Although this is just a theory of Balague’s, he believes that Cristiano suffers from a home filled with ‘permissive disciplinary’. This is “with little or no parental control, there is a risk of negative character traits developing: selfishness, intolerance, arrogance, and perhaps, most damaging, insecurity”. A ‘persona’ in which Guillem feels Ronaldo uses to deflect his true emotions.
The biography highlights that this could be a consequence of Dinis and Dolores’ distant parenting style but establishes that if Cristiano were to have grown up in a more authoritative household, he may never have.
walked the path that was destined for him. I appreciated the approach that Balague took to explaining this ‘destined path’ that Ronaldo has taken, for instance he questions Cristiano’s deep seeded connection to football through his father. He believes Dinisis’ influence was paramount in terms of Ronaldo’s love affair with the sport, had it not been an outlet for young Cristiano to spend quality time in his father’s company, would football or any other sport he was introduced to have really mattered. Ronaldo knew what football meant to his father and so he chased that love as best as he could, maybe in his mind he felt that if he could become one of the greatest, his father would have something stronger to fight his addiction for. It is a topic highly discussed in the biography that family was not enough to pull Dinis out from his addictions, something that Ronaldo has never forgiven him for.
Dinis lost his fight with alcoholism in 2011, Ronaldo was just 20 years old. I think the most surprising thing that I have learnt from this book originate from Ronaldo’s fight with his emotions. Balague remembers the day Ronaldo found out about his father’s death. He was in Moscow for the World Cup qualifiers, he reacted by “staring blankly at the wall, and later admitted he felt nothing. No words, no emotion”. To this day “Ronaldo does not like speaking about death. As if it is something that does not exist. An unnecessary worry.” Balague believes this is one of many reasons for Ronaldo’s close relationship with his mother, who is only ever getting older. Although Ronaldo’s career is highly publicised, his personal life is much more of a mystery to the media which makes this book even more interesting to decipher.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the nature of how Balague researched and delivered his theories, accredited with stories from those close to Ronaldo. To put how well I was captivated by this book into perspective, it is one of the very few books that I have ever re-read and would highly encourage others to do so for themselves.