Recently on a trip to Portugal, I made sure to visit the island of Madeira, known by all football fans as the birthplace of one Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. I couldn’t visit the Portuguese GOAT’s homeland without making a stop at the CR7 Museum. The museum is a glorified trophy room. I say that as no slight. It is definitely one of the most impressive trophy rooms on the planet. It is a monument to one of the biggest personalities on the globe whose talent is even bigger as evidenced by the amount of hardware display in the Funchal museum.

Professionally Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards, several FIFA Player of the Year awards, and 26 team trophies including five league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues Cups, and a European Championship. 

While there I took some time to visit with Nuno Mendes, curator of the CR7 Museum. Peep the convo below:

Tell us about your background

So, I started this work because I know Ronaldo’s brother. For a while, I used to teach him some English classes. So after he invited [me] to be part of this project. 

What is your role at the museum?

I’m the curator of the museum so I’m…responsible [for] the emails, and of course if any visitor needs a special tour guide, I can do that.

So you are the curator and in charge of the day-to-day at the museum?

That’s right.

What is Ronaldo’s brother’s name and his role at the museum?

Ronaldo’s [brother’s] name is Hugo Aveiro and he’s the director of the museum.

When did the museum open? 

We{’ve been] open for almost five years. The day of the opening was the 17th of December 2013. We just moved to this new space two years ago, we were in another space but now we are better located here in the Downtown [area].

Were you here for the grand opening?

Yes, I [was] here since the opening day, almost five years.

Who founded the museum?

The museum was founded by Mr. Hugo Aveiro, Ronaldo’s brother. Actually, it was his idea to create the museum. It’s a family business.

Give us a little of the history of the museum.

So it’s curious, this idea, it occurred maybe eight years ago. Ronaldo’s brother, he used to go to Ronaldo’s home and one day they were in the living room and Hugo…suggested to Ronaldo to open a museum because he saw so many trophies—spreading all over the living room and…Ronaldo says, “yes it’s a good idea” and Ronaldo’s brother said, “We can open it in your home [Madeira] and it will be a good attraction and at the same time it’s a business for the family.” So after some years, they planned, [found] the space and it all began almost five years ago.

Where was it originally located?

It was…on Princesa Dona Amelia street, not far from here, but it was a secondary road, not so big [of] a place. So after two years, we decided to move to the main avenue…Funchal. And this is a better place, now we are satisfied with the actual place. 

What would you say the purpose of this museum is?

To show to Ronaldo’s fans everything that he has won, since that first trophy that we have here until the last one. It’s an opportunity [for] the visitors to see, [right] in front of them the real [trophies] because we have here original ones and copies. For football fans, it’s crazy to be here and see what he has won. At the same time it’s a good promotion for the island because on Madeira island, we have so many visitors and for them, it’s crazy for them to be here and see Ronaldo’s achievements. 

How involved is Cristiano is this museum

His brother is the manager and of course, Ronaldo is also his partner and it’s totally private[ly owned], the government is not involved. So it’s a family business…it’s a private museum.

How often does Cristiano come here?

Not very often, but at least once a year he comes here, normally Christmas season. And of course, when he comes it’s a pleasure…for the employees…to be with him, and even for Ronaldo, we can see…in his face when he is here looking at his trophies, he is very proud of them.

How many employees here at the museum?

7 (8 including his brother)

What is the most prized possession here at the museum for you, personally?

Personally…without any doubt is the European Cup because for the first time in Portuguese history we won that award and according to Ronaldo that’s the one that he really loves and was most important. Of course, the Golden Balls have a special meaning because we are talking about the best football player in the world. And the first (trophy) that Ronaldo won for me and for most of the visitors has a special meaning because it’s the first one that he got when he was just eight years old.

What are the favorites of the visitors that come to the museum?

They love to be here. (Visitors) say the museum is well organized. So the Golden Balls and the lux statues are the favorite things (the guests) take pictures (with).

Talk about the creative process, direction, and design behind the space.

talking about the art, we have some paintings here that were donated by the artists. Paintings of Ronaldo playing football. We have a multimedia system (where) you can watch his best moments—videos, photos about his career. And we have something interesting (where visitors) can take a photo, a virtual one, that afterward, we can print—a photo of you next to Ronaldo…It’s like you are standing next to Ronaldo, and it’s very cool. We also have another multimedia system in which you can take a picture holding the trophies—the Golden Balls, the Euro Cup and you can print it also.

About the design. it was an architecture firm…that with Ronaldo designed this, but the floor Ronaldo wanted (it) to be…a traditional Portuguese floor.  In Portugal, we have these small…tiles…and the visitors are impressed because (the floor) was (made) one by one by hand. 

Who funds the museum?

No one…this building belongs to the government so…we have to pay rent but we don’t have any funds, we don’t have any sponsors. It’s all private. It’s a family business. We just rent this space…Even the money we receive, Ronaldo doesn’t keep any…Some people think he’s so rich and he gets even more money, but that’s not true…the money goes to pay the taxes, the expenses, the employees and a part goes to charities (in) Madeira, local charitable associations and we donate to people in need. 

What are the future plans for the museum?

That’s a good question. Even…after he finishes his career…we hope to be successful as (we have been up) until now. I think after he finishes his career we will reorganize all the trophies…But the future plans are just to continue (what we) are doing now. What I mean is that it’s been successful (with) many visitors and we hope to stay like that.

Why should people visit the CR7 Museu?

First of all, for football fans, this is a great place, to be here…it’s not every day that you have the chance to see the real trophies in front of you, especially the Golden Balls…The museum offers a unique experience…you can see the real trophies (right) in front of you, the most important trophies…And no (other player) in the world has a football museum. (You) have Pelé in Brazil but it’s nothing compared to this museum…You can see everything that one of the biggest players in the world has achieved so far.

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