Brazil’s legendary football player Ronaldo, popularly dubbed worldwide as Phenomenon, praised his son in social media for defending Brazil at the 20th Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem.
“This is the Brazilian delegation that represents us at the World Maccabi Games. A special hug to my son @ronald_lima. Good luck, guys! Go for it, Brazil,” Ronaldo posted on Instagram on Wednesday, a day before the start of the games, dubbed the “Jewish Olympics.” The post, accompanied by a photo of Ronald and the team, garnered over 40,000 likes in the first six hours.
Ronaldo’s son Ronald, 17, is not Jewish. But he is a member of Brazil’s Under 18 football team, which is participating in the Maccabiah games. A record 10,000 athletes from 80 countries will be competing in 43 sports at the world’s third-largest sporting event, according to organisers.
“Ronald and his mother Milena have been full members of Hebraica club for years, where they felt warmly welcomed and feel like home, as they say. They have also been approaching Judaism more and more,” Avi Gelberg, who presides over both the Maccabi organisation in Brazil and the Hebraica club in Sao Paulo, told JTA.
“We didn’t have a full team in this category so we decided to reward the kid by inviting him,” he added.
Ronald’s mother Milena, who is also not Jewish, is currently a member of Hebraica club’s female football team in Sao Paulo. An ex-model, she holds the women’s record for ball juggling, keeping a football ball off the ground, with 55,198 touches.
Some 30,000 people are expected to attend the Maccabiah opening ceremony. Soccor is the largest sport at the games, with more than 1,400 athletes from 20 countries participating. The competition categories are youth, open, master’s and Paralympics.
Ronaldo, 40, is widely considered to be one of the greatest soccor players of all time. A three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and two-time Ballon d’Or recipient, Ronaldo, in his 1990s prime, was known for his dribbling at speed, feints and clinical finishing. He played for Brazil in 98 matches, scoring 62 goals, and is the second-highest goal scorer for his national team, trailing only the legendary Pelé.