Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima is savouring a slice of Iberian ham when I arrive at Mesón Txistu, a Basque restaurant in Madrid, decked out like a classic Spanish taberna. He knows it well. It is a few minutes from the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid, the world’s richest and most successful football club. “Even the king [of Spain] comes here,” he says, explaining his choice of venue. Ronaldo of course was part of the city’s other royalty, the wearers of Real’s famous white jersey. “Two monarchies,” he says with a chuckle. Scorer of World Cup-winning goals, the legendary Brazilian was twice awarded the Ballon d’Or, the annual prize handed to the world’s best player. At his peak, he possessed rapid speed, befuddled opponents with dazzling step-overs, and shot with an assassin’s precision. Fans dubbed him O Fenômeno. Jorge Valdano, a former Real player and manager, once said: “Ronaldo is not a man. He is a herd.” Now, as the Champions League nears its conclusion, I have co...

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