| Ronaldo and Milene on their wedding day
London, June 1: It couldn’t be more unlike Bend It Like Beckham where Jes, the football mad Punjabi girl, appears set to live happily for ever with her Irish football coach.
In real life, Milene Domingues, possibly the most written about woman football player in the world, says she wants a divorce from her fellow Brazilian husband, Ronaldo, who is the most highly rated soccer star in the world.
“We are discussing divorce and it is only a matter of time before we get things sorted out,” she said. “It is the end — and I mean it.”
The couple are reported to have been leading separate lives for some months now, partly because of their footballing engagements. In addition, Ronaldo, who earns £4 million a year and is estimated to be worth £50 million, is alleged to have a roving eye.
The private lives of the footballers are staple diet for today’s tabloid European newspapers because of the huge international fan following that the big stars enjoy. British television has even done a soap based on their lives and loves called Footballers’ Wives. The characters seem to spend most of their time in bed — and not necessarily with their own partners, either.
It is against this background that the fairytale marriage of Ronaldo, 26, and Domingues, 23, has to be seen. She is from Sao Paolo, earned a reputation as a teenage football sensation and was nicknamed “Queen of Keepy-Uppy” because she was able to juggle a ball in the air a record 55,187 times in nine hours and six minutes.
The five-foot-tall female icon was pregnant when she married Ronaldo at his mother’s house in Rio de Janeiro on Christmas Eve in 1999.
Of their son Ronaldo, Domingues says: “Ronald is the most beautiful thing Ronaldo and me have done together but it is not sufficient. He’s not the solution to all the problems that Ronaldo and I have. My son does not come into it. He has nothing to do with the fact that our love and feelings have changed.”
She said: “It is difficult for us to stay together and we see life in different ways.”
Last summer, Domingues and Ronaldo seemed to be the perfect couple. His reputation was high after he proved himself to be the highest scorer in the World Cup — he even said the secret of his success was making love two hours before a big game.
In some ways, this is the kind of gossip that an adoring public demands of soccer stars. One of the few marriages held up to be stable and happy is that of the England captain, David Beckham, and his wife, Victoria, better known as Posh from her days with the Spice Girls.
Ronaldo, like that of many overpaid footballers, has become famous for his passes — not all on the football field. There is a list of minor female celebrities who are said to have caught the Brazilian’s eye.
As with any other high profile couple at the top of their professions, their different work and training schedules have not helped. Ronaldo’s move from the Italian club, Inter Milan, to the Spanish Club, Real Madrid, upset his wife because they could see even less of each other.
She plays for Fiamma Monza close to Milan (and for a fraction of her husband’s salary). She spends half the week in Italy, leaving her son in Spain with his father, her mother and a nanny.
“I am exhausted at having to go to and fro between Milan and Madrid,” she told The Sunday Mirror. “I have reached the point where I do not know where I belong. I hardly see Ronny (Ronaldo). We virtually live separate lives.”
Domingues denied she was involved with another man. “No, no, no. I’m a married woman. Only when I’m divorced will I be free to love another man. I am young and have all my life ahead of me, but I can’t see me remarrying immediately.”
Some people will find it ironic that what she says she wants is a non-celebrity private life.
“I know what is best for me — peace and tranquillity. All I ask for is a plain and tranquil family life. And my son Ronald need stability, too.”
She seems determined to end the marriage: “I’ve never heard of anyone dying for love. Neither me nor Ronny are that kind of people. I am sure we will survive.”