Moments: Cristiano Ronaldo
The press release for Moments claims that Cristiano Ronaldo is 'the biggest star at the biggest club in the world' and that this book has 'huge quality and appeal, and will excite his many fans around the world'. However, the first words I heard commented upon the unveiling of the picture heavy tome were '1980s' and 'an early edition of For Women Magazine'.
And I have to say that the 150 'sumptuous' photographs by Jorge Monteiro that accompany the text, many of which feature Ronaldo topless or modelling his muscled torso, provided this reviewer with cause for concern and embarrassment, as I usually do most of my reading on the very public London Underground.
But having overcome my fear of ridicule and actually started to read the book I found it refreshingly candid; even the opening admission that at the age of 22 he is too young to write an autobiography. Instead Ronaldo wants to invite the reader into snapshots, often literally, or 'moments' of his life.
The Manchester United player opens the book by simply stating: 'My name is Cristiano Ronaldo... and I know this name means a lot to those who love football.'
Initially this curtain-raising gambit makes one think of an arrogant, self-centred player but then you realise, for better or for worse, that he is actually correct. The PFA Players' Player of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year nominee has indeed become an icon, even a hero to many.
It is stark, self-aware statements such as this that make the book refreshing. Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro is one of the best players in the world and he is not afraid to say so - for that he makes no apologies. Yet conversely he is not afraid to let the reader into his early life and openly admit that he was taunted during his time at Sporting's training academy in Portugal and that he used to bawl his eyes out and need consoling by his roommates every time he finished a telephone call to his parents back in Madeira.
Ronaldo is also very open about his advertising work and self promotion, while other players are keen to draw a veil over their money spinning sidelines. He is obviously very comfortable exploiting his image for his own benefit but is also at pains to portray the charity work and public appearances he has taken part in.
This dip into Ronaldo the personality, the upbringing and the hesitant skinny young man gives a believable feel to Moments. So much so that when he moves onto his football career you feel that the thoughts on the page are actually his own, and not just a few quotes turned into a turgid chapter of yet another active footballer's biography.
It is the photo/text combination Moments adopts that allows the wording to be minimal and to the point, and so key issues such as 'that' moment during the 2006 World Cup with Wayne Rooney are dealt with in a quick and definitive style - five paragraphs deals with the whole incident.
The book relates the story of Ronaldo's love of football from early childhood in Madeira, his move to Sporting Lisbon and then debunks the myth that his transfer to Manchester United was brokered after his man-of-the-match performance against the Red Devils in August 2003; in fact everything was signed and agreed before 'M day'.
He speaks of his rise to stardom at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson and his love of playing for his country under the guidance of close friend and manager Luis Scolari. He relates the love and support of his family, as well as the sad moments in his life such as the death of his father.
The book also shows glimpses of him training and enjoying his leisure time, the charity work he involves himself in, as well as off-field activities in both his professional capacity and for pleasure.
Apparently, Ronaldo hopes that when you finish reading the last line and perusing the final picture you, the reader, will have enjoyed the book with the same enthusiasm you would get from watching him play football. Well I'm not sure about that, but it was certainly a better read than I expected.
Moments is definitely a coffee-table book and not something to settle down and read as a novel; but its concise nature is one of the book's pluses.
As for the photographs, I suppose the mix of football related images alongside gratuitous modelling shots is just another expression of the flamboyant player's personality.