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Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid star, international playboy, underwear model and hotelier.
"I was always dreaming to have my own hotel," the 30-year old told CNBC on Thursday after announcing a more than $40 million investment into four boutique hotels developed by the Pestana Hotel Group, one of Portugal's largest tourism and leisure firms.
Under the name of Ronaldo's 'CR7' brand, the hotels will span four cities closely linked to Ronaldo's life: his hometown Funchal, Lisbon where he first started his youth career, Madrid for his tenure with the famed Spanish club, and New York where he's considering the Major League Soccer.
The Portuguese native will become a shareholder of Pestana's international hotel chain, which will mark his first investment outside of fashion and sport.
The $40 million injection will make a small dent into Ronaldo's personal fortune of $223 million, according to soccer publication Goal, which ranked him as the world's wealthiest player this year.
Ronaldo explains the hotel idea first came about during a casual conversation with the company in his native Madeira, an archipelago of four islands facing the Moroccan coast. A personal connection with chief executive Dionisio Pestana, whose father founded the Pestana Group, sweetened the deal.
"In my opinion, he's the best guy to do business with in Portugal," Ronaldo said. "He's from Madeira too, so it was a good partnership. He has experience, not just in Portugal but all over the world...Dionisio is the number one [in hotels] and I'm the number one in football so, we have everything."
Indeed, the 30-year old is confident his hotels will stand out in an industry facing serious disruption from start-ups such as Airbnb.
"I'm 100 percent sure that this is going to be different from others because of my name, the way I live, my ambitions, Dionisio's ambition too.... Between this base of people—people who like me, the people who follow me—I think we have all the ingredients to do it."
His CR7 label currently spans clothing and fragrance so by entering the hotel industry, some speculate the brand may be looking to mimic Virgin's wide range of services and goods. "My ambition is kind of like in football, to be better and better....As you know, football is not for your whole life. I want other things."
When asked about the recent sacking of Jose Mourinho, manager of Premier League champions Chelsea, Ronaldo politely avoided the topic. The two were known for their tense and often stormy relationship during Mourinho's stint as Real Madrid coach during 2012-2013.
Ronaldo was thrust into the spotlight when he signed with Manchester United in 2003. He played with the 'Red Devils' until 2009, during which he won three Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy, before moving to Real Madrid. There, he became the all-time leading goal scorer in the European Champions League, ahead of Barcelona striker and rival Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo has played for his national side 123 times and is a two-time Ballon d'Or winner, seen as the game's ultimate accolade. Only Messi has won it more times with three trophies. This year, Ronaldo's life with his son Cristiano was the subject of a documentary movie.
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