Sunday, Nov 23, 2014Sunday, Nov 23, 2014

Football: Farmer's son who can't play? Meet CR7's cousin

Published on Jun 22, 2014 6:37 AM
Picture taken on June 20, 2014 shows Armando Aveiro (right), his wife Sandra (centre) and their son Rogers (left) displaying their family tree in Campinas, Brazil, where is taking place the 2014 FIFA Football World Cup. -- PHOTO: AFP 

CAMPINAS, Brazil (AFP) - He is tall, Brazilian and he’s related to Cristiano Ronaldo. He is, however, terrible at football.

Meet Rogers Aveiro, a distant cousin of the Portuguese superstar and, for a few weeks at least, living just a short drive away.

By pure chance, Portugal have set up their Brazilian World Cup base in Campinas, home of a farming family which claims a shared ancestry with the Real Madrid forward.

Their only son Rogers, 36, lacks the hair gel and the swagger of his illustrious relative, as well as the rippling torso – and, by his own admission, the footballing ability.

“I’m a horrible player,” he says.

But backed by a family tree matching their roots to those of CR7 – full name Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro – the Aveiros are quietly adamant about their blood ties.

Their story goes like this: two forebears of Ronaldo and Rogers were brothers, Francisco and Jose, living in Portugal’s Madeira in the late 1800s.

Jose’s son emigrated to Brazil early last century and found success as a farmer in the fertile Campinas area about 55 miles (88 kilometres) north of Sao Paulo.

About 100 years later Ronaldo, one of the world’s most recognisable celebrities, arrived in Campinas, now a bustling city of one million, for the World Cup.

Ronaldo trained in front of thousands of fans this week in the stadium built on land once farmed by his relatives the Aveiros.

And, they say, he and the rest of the Portugal team are staying in a hotel built with bricks supplied by a business owned by the extended family.

The personable Rogers, wearing a Ronaldo shirt and Madeira cap, says his friends tease him about the family connection.

“My friends and relatives all laugh at me because I’m such a bad player, not like Ronaldo who’s the best in the world now,” he says at the comfortable family home near Campinas.

Well off and not seeking the limelight, the family has never tried to contact the Real Madrid star. Rogers wanted to watch the public training session, but couldn’t get a ticket.

“They ran out after about five minutes,” he says.

Not for him the antics of Andressa Urach, a contestant on the “Miss BumBum” bottom-beauty pageant TV show and a self-avowed lover of Ronaldo, who was escorted away by stadium security.

Although he is no Ronaldo lookalike, Rogers’s height and features suggest a family link is credible. And his cousin Lais is known for her resemblance to Ronaldo’s sister Katia.

“I’ve heard that I look like her but I’ve never seen her. But I think it’s quite cool. It would be nice to meet her and Ronaldo,” says the 19-year-old.

“Ronaldo’s my favourite player,” she adds. “He’s the best player in the world and we’ve got the same blood, he’s family.” The Aveiros’ feelings for Portugal run deep. Rogers and his parents Armando and Sandra support both Brazil and Portugal at the World Cup, and Madeira memorabilia dots the house.

Rogers said it would be “awesome” to meet and play with Ronaldo, even if he’s not the most gifted footballer.

But the level-headed farmer’s son said Ronaldo, the football and marketing phenomenon with the world at his feet, is not even his favourite player.

Instead, he prefers somebody closer to home. “At the moment I like Hulk from Brazil. He’s a stronger sort of player,” Rogers says.