José Dinis Aveiro was a Portuguese war-veteran and the father of famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. He served as a soldier in his country’s war against Angola. After watching the diseases and outrages in African countries, he returned home (a broken man) to an economically ravaged Portugal and turned to alcoholism, which was hard for the family. Along with a gardener’s job, he also worked as a kit man in the club where Ronaldo played amateur football. Stung by his teammates’ taunts about his father’s lowly job, Ronaldo was all fired-up to achieve success. But, as fate would have it, Aveiro succumbed to liver failure before witnessing his son’s spectacular success.
Aveiro was born in 1954, in Santo António, 9000 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal to Humberto Cirilo Aveiro and his wife, Filomena Aveiro.
Nothing much is known about his family or childhood.
As a Soldier in Africa
Aveiro was reportedly forced to join the army. As a Portuguese soldier, he was part of the war against the Angolan colony in Africa. The colony was fighting for its independence from Portugal. The Portuguese army lost the war, and the atrocities that they witnessed in Africa left a lasting impact on the soldiers.
The conditions under which the army had to sustain were appalling. The supplies were scarce because by the time the supplies reached them, the food was rotten. The half-starved army suffered several diseases, including malaria, fever, chills, tremors, etc. The water was also not considered safe for drinking, so the soldiers survived on local Angolan beer, ‘Cuca.’
Aveiro served under difficult conditions in Angola and Mozambique, for 13 months.
As a War-Veteran
After his return from the African war, Aveiro was a shattered man. The war had resulted in a severe economic setback in Portugal. It was difficult to procure jobs. He spent time in local bars, where his friends bought him drinks.
His fellow soldier, Jose Manuel Coelho, confirmed these facts that the war-veterans didn’t have any job or money. According to Coelho, Aveiro didn’t have money even for proper food.
Later, Aveiro began working as a gardener. For additional income, he worked as a kit man for Santo Antonio’s football team, ‘Andorinha,’ in the Funchal suburb. His job was to maintain the dressing rooms and keep the players’ kits ready. Apparently, he got this job as his son, Ronaldo, played for that team. But Ronaldo’s teammates mocked him for his father’s humble job. This fired-up Ronaldo even more to prove himself.
Aveiro was married to Maria Dolores Dos Santos, who was a cook. The couple had four children: Elma (born 1973), Hugo (born 1975), Katia (born 1977), who is a singer; and the youngest son, Cristiano Ronaldo (born 1985).
Aveiro named his son, Ronaldo, after his favorite Hollywood star, Ronald Reagan, who was the President of the USA when Ronaldo was born.
According to his wife, Maria Dolores, Aveiro was drunk almost every day. He did not mistreat his children, but she was at the receiving end. In 2014, she admitted that because of their poverty, she wanted to abort their fourth child, Ronaldo. When the doctors declined to help her, she tried drinking warm beer and running till she dropped.
Aveiro’s Belief in His Son
One of Aveiro’s close friend, Alberto Martins, recounted that Aveiro firmly believed that one day his son would be successful and become the best in the world. His friends called him a fool, but he believed in his son’s abilities. His son proved him right, but the father wasn’t there to see his massive success.
Ronaldo’s Relationship with Aveiro
In September 2019, Ronaldo appeared on an interview with Piers Morgan on ITV, wherein he spoke about his late father. He conceded that he didn’t know his father much, as he was drunk most of the time and they didn’t have any normal conversation. Ronaldo admitted that he was not the father he dreamt of having, yet he was the one who instilled the love of football in him, and also some important life lessons.
During the interview, Aveiro’s short video clip, recorded by a Norwegian TV, was shown to Ronaldo. It was recorded on Aveiro’s doorstep little before Ronaldo’s ‘Euro 2004’ tournament held in Portugal. In this last video recording, Aveiro spoke about his son with so much pride that Ronaldo, who had not seen that clip before, was moved to tears while watching it.
Ronaldo felt sad that his father did not live long enough to see his son’s stupendous success – his five ‘Champions’ League’ titles, and the record 5 ‘Ballon d’Or.’
Aveiro’s alcoholism took its toll during the initial years of Ronaldo’s career when he had begun playing for ‘Manchester United’. When Aveiro was critical in a London hospital, Ronaldo was allowed to miss the ‘Manchester United’s ‘Champions’ League’ group game with Villarreal, to be with his father. (Ronaldo always remained grateful for this compassionate gesture).
Aveiro died of a liver failure on September 5, 2005, at London, England.