Portugal legend Cristiano Ronaldo saved brother Hugo Aveiro from drink and drug addiction and paid for his rehab – The SunMarch 30, 2021
HE'S one of the greatest footballers of all-time, and a five-time Ballon d'Or winner.
But for Cristiano Ronaldo's troubled brother Hugo Aveiro, 10-years CR7's senior, life has been more challenging.
Living in the shadow of the superstar sibling was daunting for the one-time promising footballer, who fell into a life of drink and drugs in the late 1990s.
It was an addiction gene that ran in the family, with their late father Jose Dinis Aveiro also a recovering alcoholic.
But thanks to Cristiano's support, Hugo, 46, is now sober and managing the Ballon d'Or winner's CR7 museum in Madeira, Portugal.
They are closer than ever, go on holidays together, while Ronaldo is godfather to Hugo's son.
Hugo was also part of Cristiano's entourage, boarding a private plane to head to the 2017 Ballon d'Or ceremony.
However, it all unfolded publicly at the Champions League Final in 2014, when Ronaldo stole the show in a 4-1 win over rivals Atletico Madrid at the Estadio da Luz.
An emotional hug caught on camera between the pair celebrating Real's crowning glory reportedly culminated in a pact.
Cristiano told Hugo now he's fulfilled his part of the bargain and won a Champions League for Los Blancos, it's his brother's turn to stop boozing.
It was a tough demand on a man who had spent most of his adult life struggling with substances.
But it was a wish Hugo has since maintained, blessed by Cristiano's love and support.
And as anyone in recovery will tell you, you're always an addict and every day is a fight.
Which makes Hugo's journey, with the aid of his little bro, a remarkable one all the same.
Hugo was born the year their father Jose Dinis went to Angola with the Portuguese army.
He left school before 17, and worked for a aluminium company before later running a painting crew.
However, trouble was only around the corner for Hugo, who then started abusing substances, according to writer Guillem Balague in his Ronaldo biography.
At this time, Hugo was playing 'street football' and was said to be a decent player. A left-footed striker, he played in the informal street leagues of Santo Antonio.
Mixing it up against older men, childhood friend Joel Santos claimed that Hugo stood out.
"I didn't know Hugo back then. But everybody who knew says he was a better footballer than Ronaldo," he said.
C.S. Maritimo president Carlos Pereira, who has known Ronaldo for most of his life, was more sceptical about Hugo's abilities.
"Nowadays, people say that Hugo was a good player, but that has nothing to do with the kind of football that Ronaldo plays," he said.
"Hugo was a street player. He played. He drank. He slept. When Ronaldo started to play, he played in a club with structure, with coaches and directors.
"It is a different kind of football. Hugo may have been skillful, but it was as a street footballer, playing against his friends in an amateur way. Nothing like Ronaldo."
The influence of Cristiano's father, better known as Dinis, left a long-lasting impression on both boys growing up.
While Cristiano set out to become a pro, vowing never to drink after seeing how it destroyed his own family, Hugo succumbed to the same demons as his dad.
Dinis died from liver failure when Ronaldo was just 20-years-old and failed to see his son's meteoric rise.
It left Ronaldo scarred, according to his mum Dolores. "Cristiano has seen what drink and drugs can do to people close to him.
"And it's part of the reason why he's become who he is today."
Dolores continued: "Dinis drank himself into an early grave which left Cristiano devastated.
"Time and again, Cristiano offered to pay to get him treatment but Dinis kept on drinking.
"He was still so young, just 52, when he died. Cristiano was very close to his dad.
"He would have loved him to still be around to see the player he is today. It's very sad."
As a young boy, Cristiano and his father were inseparable. From the ages of six and nine, Dinis was the kit man at his boys' team Andorinha in Funchal.
Despite his death in 2005, Ronaldo revealed it spurred him on to become the best.
"Obviously the death of my father influenced everything.
"I knew the pain would pass and the most important thing was for me to continue with my work."
When Cristiano moved to Lisbon at 11-years-old, earning £170 a month as an apprentice, Hugo's life also began to spiral out of control.
Mom Dolores realised something had to be done and she packed him off to rehab.
"I paid to send Hugo away to a specialist clinic for treatment. I was working as a cleaner, earning only £400 a month and I had to take out a loan," she said.
But Hugo soon returned to his old ways, and this time it was his brother who stepped in to save the day by paying for more treatment.
"Cristiano was 16 then. He was earning more and paid for his brother's treatment," Dolores said.
"There's no doubt his money helped to save Hugo.
"Things might have turned out a lot differently if Cristiano hadn't been a footballer."
In a self-titled 2015 documentary about the Portuguese forward, Hugo briefly addressed his own issues.
He revealed that working with his father in construction was the catalyst for his woes.
Hugo also admitted he was influenced by drug pushers growing up in a neighbourhood rife with narcotics.
"Growing up, Ronaldo's two sisters were much closer to him than his brother because his brother was becoming like his father," close pal Pereira divulged.
"The guys who surrounded Hugo were a different kind of people, the junkies of the neighbourhood. They were all taking drink and drugs."
And that's a sentiment former neighbour Joao Ornelas shared, and how the brothers went down different roads.
"Ronaldo got lucky; Hugo had bad luck," he said.
"Hugo tried drugs, and he got hooked. Once or twice, he stole things from home to sell and buy drugs, but nowadays he's OK. He's a nice guy. He's clean.
"The difference is that Hugo always lived here in the neighbourhood. Ronaldo went to Lisbon when he was only 12.
"He had more comfort than he had here on this street. He had other people looking after him.
"He had rules that he had to follow. Everything changed in that moment."
Maritimo chairman Pereira added: "Ronaldo got a different chance in life than Hugo.
"Hugo always lived there. He stayed in that environment. Since Ronaldo was really young, people noticed he had a special talent. Along the way, people took care of him.
"He was nurtured. It made him feel special. It made him believe he could take a different path in life than his brother and his father."
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