I am totally heterosexual, there is no doubt about that, - Ronaldo

Other News Materials 6 May 2008 02:57 (UTC +04:00)

A week after he got involved in a scandal with transvestite prostitutes, Brazilian striker Ronaldo said that he feels "ashamed" of what he called his "stupid action", dpa reported.

"I cried a lot," the Milan player told TV Globo in an interview that was broadcast late Sunday.

Ronaldo, 31, said he was willing to work hard to "rebuild" his reputation and save his professional career, but insisted in describing the scandal as an "isolated event."

During the interview, he rejected three times suspicion surrounding his sexual orientation.

"I am totally heterosexual, there is no doubt about that," Ronaldo stressed.

Before the scandal over a date with three transvestite prostitutes at an hourly hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the player was known as a sort of "collector" of beautiful partners, including models Daniella Cicarelli, Raica Oliveira and Mireia Canalda.

Ronaldo insisted that he fell into a trap set up by a "gang" of transvestite prostitutes who blackmail clients.

"Everything appears to indicate that it really is a gang that usually does that to famous and anonymous people, to married men, (a gang) devoted to terrorizing those people," the striker said.

Ronaldo retold his version of the story. He said that as he left a nightclub, he decided to go to an hourly hotel with a prostitute, not knowing that he was in fact taking with him the transvestite Andre Albertino, known as "Andreia Albertine."

He added that two other prostitutes joined them at the hotel, but he said that - contrary to what "Andreia" told the media - there were no drugs and no intimate relations. Ronaldo insisted that he was just the victim of an extortion.

"I did not have sex because when I realized it was not what I was looking for I took my team off the pitch. I never took drugs, I am still a sportsman even if I am injured," the striker said.

Still, he added that he has no intention of filing suit against "Andreia Albertine" for slander.

"The biggest mistake was my own, for seeking a date like that," Ronaldo admitted.

He confirmed that the scandal led to the end of the relationship he had had with engineer Maria Beatriz Anthony, 23, for over a year, but he noted he still hopes they may get back together.

"Her first reaction was to insult me, but then she gave me her support. For her, it is very difficult to forgive me. We still do not know what is going to happen, but even she gave me her support and helped me get through all this," Ronaldo said.

Besides his girlfriend, the striker made it clear that he thinks the scandal has cost him any chance of extending his contract with Milan, set to expire next month.

"My contract with Milan will expire in June, and then I will be free to negotiate with other clubs," he noted.

Ronaldo said that scandal-drivien damage to his image should not prevent him from continuing to work as a goodwill ambassador against poverty or affect his contracts with companies like US sportswear giant Nike and Italian mobile phone service TIM, who provide most of the 32 million dollars that constitute his annual income.

"(The scandal) has nothing to do with my professional life as a player. It will not interfere with my position as UNICEF ambassador, nothing will be an obstacle to that. With the companies I am under contract to, this was interpreted as an isolated event," he explained.

UNICEF Brazil denied Monday in its website that the footballer is its ambassador or indeed that he "has any other tie to the agency."

It seems likely that Ronaldo got confused, since he is an ambassador for another UN organization, the UN Development Programme (UNDP,) alongside fellow-players Zinedine Zidane, now retired, and Didier Drogba.

British star David Beckham, now of Los Angeles' Galaxy, is an ambassador for UNICEF.

Ronaldo admitted that he only has himself to blame for his current troubles.

"It was a tragic moment in which I made the worst decision of my personal life," he said. "I am more than repentant, I am ashamed."

However, he tried to draw something positive out of the case.

"This brings me closer to the people. As a successful player, I suffered my whole life from being looked at as if I were on a different dimension. I am a human being. I have my weaknesses, my fears, I have everything that a normal person has," he stressed.

The striker said he will now focus on physiotherapy. Ronaldo underwent surgery in February to fix the torn kneecap ligament in his left knee and is working to return to active football.

As to where he would like to play, he has little doubt: he wants to wear the shirt of his favourite Brazilian club, Flamengo.

"It is my great dream, and I am sure that Flamengo's doors will be open for me," Ronaldo said.