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Ronaldo: “The Pressure of Being the Best Never Bothered Me”

Ronaldo. All he needs is one name.

In a world of countless of Ronaldos, there’s really just one.

Ronaldo is only of three people on the planet to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year award three or more times.

He's also won the Ballon d’Or twice.

He has the second-highest amount of goals scored in World Cup history and he's the second-highest scorer ever for Brazil’s national team.

He's considered by many to be the greatest striker ever and those who disagree still have him very high up on their lists.

It wasn’t all easy going for Ronaldo, though, as his career was sidetracked by several injuries. Despite those setbacks Ronaldo consistently performed better than anyone else on the planet.

Ronaldo: One World Cup, 8 Goals

Brazil soccer jersey
Brazil, five-time World Cup champions.

That was the case in April 2000, when Ronaldo ruptured the cruciate ligament in his right knee, a potentially career-ending injury.

Then, two years later, after having barely played a game, Ronaldo re-joined the Brazilian squad for the World Cup.

Ronaldo scored eight goals during the 2002 World Cup --more than any other player that year -- and helped Brazil win its fifth World Cup.

“That was the most important moment of my soccer career,” Ronaldo said. “To come back after two years and win the World Cup and score eight goals, it was incredible.”

Despite being such a sports phenom, Ronaldo is fairly humble about what made him the best. It mostly came down to hard work and inspiration from his fans.

“I tried and looked to be better every day of my career,” Ronaldo said. “When I played, the pressure of being the best was more of a motivation.

"It made me be better every day for my fans and myself. So, all of that pressure, I always managed to transform it into motivation.

“The pressure of being the best never bothered me.”

Ronaldo: "I'd Like to Win a Major Tournament"

Ronaldo is hoping to take one home.

Now that his career has come to a close, Ronaldo can gladly look back on it with pride.

“I’m very happy with what I did in soccer and I enjoy hearing when people talk well about my career,” Ronaldo said. “It makes me feel proud of what I’ve done.

“It’s really an honor that so many people think I was the greatest player out there.”

Since competing at the highest levels of soccer in the world has come to a close for Ronaldo, he has to find other ways to compete and stay in shape.

For fitness, Ronaldo likes to play tennis. To feed his competitive side, Ronaldo likes to play poker.

“When I stopped playing soccer, I started playing poker more frequently and started seeing a lot of similarities,” Ronaldo said. “Mostly, the competitive aspect of it.”

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be a professional poker player because I have a lot of side projects going on, but I’d like to keep on improving to the point where I could win a major tournament.

Ronaldo, Neymar, Pique + Poker

While Ronaldo plays a lot more poker now, he first learned to play cards back when he played for Inter Milan.

“There wasn’t a lot to do during rest periods when I played at Inter Milan,” Ronaldo said. “The rest periods before a game were really boring and there was nothing to do.

“A coach would give a speech and we’d talk for a bit, but then nothing. Then, when we started playing poker, everything would go by a lot quicker. I’ve been playing ever since.”

According to Ronaldo, there are several good poker players at soccer’s highest levels.

“Every year there are more and more playing too,” Ronaldo said. “[Gerard] Pique, he goes on the tours and plays a lot.

“I’ve seen Neymar playing poker, he Tweets about it and puts it on Facebook. There are a lot of soccer players that play poker.”

While many famous players like to play poker, one has yet to take down a major tournament. Ronaldo is hoping to become the first and will return tomorrow to play Day 2 of the 2015 PCA Main Event with 43,200 in chips.

“It’s really tough because there are so many good pros still in the field, ”Ronaldo said. “But it’s not impossible, so we’ll see."

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