If Juventus striker Ronaldo rarely misses the chance to show off his painstakingly chiselled physique to his following of more than 233 million on Instagram, 84-cap Brazil wideman Ze Roberto is an even more prolific portrayer of his incredible fitness on social media, where more than 1.2 million fans watch the former Palmeiras coach flexing his muscles.
A gym devotee who issues regular challenges to his followers alongside photos from his 23-year career with the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Ze Roberto calls his account “more than stories” and “a legacy”, falling to the floor after pulling weights while planking at home in his latest post.
Ze Roberto cannot compete with the billionaire wealth of Ronaldo, who posed with his top off alongside a gleaming Bugatti bearing his CR7 moniker yesterday, but the veteran is well within his rights to compare his hulking torso to the world’s most image-conscious footballer.
“Today I would say that I have a better physique because I played until the age of 43 at a high level,” he told TyC Sports, when asked for his observations on Ronaldo’s rippling body.
“If he does the same, I would say [he does].”
Ze Roberto was on frank form, calling the Brazilian Ronaldo, who he played with regularly during his 11-year international career, a “phenomenon” and “the best player I played with”.
“He was amazing,” he said. “And he was a party animal. He once went out drinking and came to training the next day. What he did almost without sleep was incredible.
“He had his drinks, of course. But the next day he trained like an animal.”
The retro Ronaldo became one of the most feared strikers in the world, scoring 62 goals in 98 matches for Brazil and winning the Ballon d’Or twice and the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times.
Ze Roberto also singled out Ronaldo’s international and club teammate at PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan, Vampeta, and fellow great Ronaldinho as ringleaders in a famously fun-loving Brazil squad.
“Vampeta was also a party animal, already preparing for it before games,” he revealed. “Ronaldinho even had a dance floor at home, a disco. But I preferred not to go there.”
He picked the 2006 World Cup team, namechecking stars including Kaka and Adriano, as the best he ever played in, admitting that their exit to a Thierry Henry goal for France in the quarter-finals was down to “poor organization” and a lack of concentration caused by external distractions.
“[Zinedine] Zidane was the best opponent,” he added, reflecting on the two goals the current Real Madrid manager scored in France’s 3-0 win over Brazil in the tournament decider 22 years ago.
“The final he played in the 1998 World Cup is the best performance I have ever seen.”