The World Cup may have ended in disappointment for Cristiano Ronaldo but the Portugal captain has reason to smile after recently becoming a father, according to an extraordinary announcement appeared on Real’s website and Ronaldo’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
The Real Madrid forward announced on Sunday that he had exclusive custody of the baby boy, born in June to an anonymous American.
Ronaldo, who is currently dating Russian underwear model Irina Shayk, spent last summer in Los Angeles and Miami after signing for Real Madrid from Manchester United for a record £80 million ($144.4 million).
He captained Portugal during their World Cup 2010 campaign in South Africa, which ended with a 1-0 defeat to neighbours Spain in the second round on Tuesday.
“It is with great joy and emotion that I inform I have recently become a father to a baby boy,” said Ronaldo.
The world’s most expensive and arguably most famous footballer said his son would be kept under his ‘ exclusive guardianship’, leading to questions about why the mother has given him up.
“With the agreement of the mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, I will have exclusive custody of my son,” said Ronaldo. “I request everyone to fully respect my right to privacy [and that of the child] at least on issues as personal as these are.”
Last night, more than 18 hours after the messages first appeared and after 40,000 fans had registered their congratulations on Facebook, Ronaldo’s agent confirmed the story, saying: “Yes, it’s true. We make no further comment.”
The baby is thought likely to be brought up by Ronaldo’s family in his native Portugal. Ronaldo is now concentrating again on club football.
But his gruelling training regime and fixtures at Real Madrid, where he earns £180,000 a week, combined with a love of the high life, make it all but impossible to imagine him being a single parent.
That makes it likely that the child’s upbringing will have plenty of input from Ronaldo’s formidable mother Dolores. Yesterday a Portuguese newspaper, Correio da Manha, said Ronaldo’s son was born in early June.
A family friend apparently told the newspaper that the player’s mother and sisters Elma and Katia were preparing the documentation to take the child to Portugal. However, last night it was understood that the baby is already in Portugal.
Ronaldo has been linked to scores of beautiful women in the past few years. He was linked with tennis player Maria Sharapova, 23, in 2006, and Big Brother star Imogen Thomas, 26, in 2008.
Last year he was romantically linked with Paris Hilton, 29, in June and with Kim Kardashian, 29, in April of this year.
If it is true that the baby was born in June, it must have been conceived around September last year when 21-year-old Italian Raffaella Fico claimed to be dating the footballer. Ronaldo took her to an Elton John concert in Lisbon in June 2009.
Months later, she claimed she was still dating the star and had met his family, but Ronaldo never commented on the supposed relationship. The striker is said to be madly in love with current girlfriend Irina.
Last month they were enjoying a five-day pre-World Cup break on a £50,000 a-week yacht off the coast of Corsica, with the 5ft 10in green-eyed beauty telling friends Ronaldo wanted to have children with her.
Only two months ago, Ronaldo was at the centre of a pregnancy riddle involving a stunning Spanish model. Former Miss Spain Maria Jose Suarez was linked to the star after splitting with her boyfriend, tennis player Feliciano Lopez, when she discovered she was pregnant.
The footballer was named in the media as her secret lover, sparking speculation he was the father of the child. But she denied sleeping with Ronaldo and last week it emerged she had lost her baby.
The footballer’s ex-girlfriend, Nereida Gallardo, 26, criticised him after their split in 2008: “Every week another girl comes along talking about him,” she said.