The internationally renowned footballer Ronaldo Nazário has been baptised into the Catholic church in his home country of Brazil.
The news was shared with his nearly 30 million followers via a post on the player’s personal Instagram account. The two-time Ballon D’Or winner has played for Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Inter Milan during his career. He revealed he was baptised, confirmed and given first communion by Fr Fábio de Melo, in a church ceremony on Tuesday 12th September.
Pictures show “Ronaldo” – formerly known as Ronaldinho – with his head bowed over the baptismal font, in a private ceremony. Afterwards he is seen smiling with family and friends at the altar.
Writing on his Instagram account, the footballer said:
"Today is a very special day. I have been baptized! The Christian faith has always been a fundamental part of my life since childhood, although I had not yet been baptized.
With the sacrament, I feel truly regenerated as a child of God - in a new, more aware, deeper way.
I renew my commitment to follow the way of good, free and spontaneous will, believing in the love of Jesus, in charity and love.
Thank you very much, @pefabiodemelo, Church of São José, Father Dom Oswaldo and my dear godparents Amilcar and Malu."
Ronaldo has had a long-standing relationship with the Catholic Church. According to the Catholic Herald, he once donated a signed football to Pope Francis which is housed in the Vatican museum.
Born in a reasonably well off family in Rio de Janeiro, Ronaldo’s parents’ separation when he was young led to him dropping out of school at the age of eleven.
Like many Brazilian football stars before him, his early talent was developed just kicking a ball in the streets with his friends, where his natural aptitude was quickly noticed.
He went on to become one of Brazil’s all-time top goal scorers, and was part of the country’s World Cup winning team in 2002.