THE MAN BEHIND THE CR7 MUSEUM: NUNO MENDES

Recently on a trip to Portugal, I made sure to visit the island of Madeira, known by all football fans as the birthplace of one Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. I couldn’t visit the Portuguese GOAT’s homeland without making a stop at the CR7 Museum. The museum is a glorified trophy room. I say that as no slight. It is definitely one of the most impressive trophy rooms on the planet. It is a monument to one of the biggest personalities on the globe whose talent is even bigger as evidenced by the amount of hardware display in the Funchal museum.

Professionally Ronaldo has won five Ballon d’Or awards, several FIFA Player of the Year awards, and 26 team trophies including five league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues Cups, and a European Championship. 

While there I took some time to visit with Nuno Mendes, curator of the CR7 Museum. Peep the convo below:

Tell us about your background

So, I started this work because I know Ronaldo’s brother. For a while, I used to teach him some English classes. So after he invited [me] to be part of this project. 

What is your role at the museum?

I’m the curator of the museum so I’m…responsible [for] the emails, and of course if any visitor needs a special tour guide, I can do that.

So you are the curator and in charge of the day-to-day at the museum?

That’s right.

What is Ronaldo’s brother’s name and his role at the museum?

Ronaldo’s [brother’s] name is Hugo Aveiro and he’s the director of the museum.

When did the museum open? 

We{’ve been] open for almost five years. The day of the opening was the 17th of December 2013. We just moved to this new space two years ago, we were in another space but now we are better located here in the Downtown [area].

Were you here for the grand opening?

Yes, I [was] here since the opening day, almost five years.

Who founded the museum?

The museum was founded by Mr. Hugo Aveiro, Ronaldo’s brother. Actually, it was his idea to create the museum. It’s a family business.

Give us a little of the history of the museum.

So it’s curious, this idea, it occurred maybe eight years ago. Ronaldo’s brother, he used to go to Ronaldo’s home and one day they were in the living room and Hugo…suggested to Ronaldo to open a museum because he saw so many trophies—spreading all over the living room and…Ronaldo says, “yes it’s a good idea” and Ronaldo’s brother said, “We can open it in your home [Madeira] and it will be a good attraction and at the same time it’s a business for the family.” So after some years, they planned, [found] the space and it all began almost five years ago.

Where was it originally located?

It was…on Princesa Dona Amelia street, not far from here, but it was a secondary road, not so big [of] a place. So after two years, we decided to move to the main avenue…Funchal. And this is a better place, now we are satisfied with the actual place. 

What would you say the purpose of this museum is?

To show to Ronaldo’s fans everything that he has won, since that first trophy that we have here until the last one. It’s an opportunity [for] the visitors to see, [right] in front of them the real [trophies] because we have here original ones and copies. For football fans, it’s crazy to be here and see what he has won. At the same time it’s a good promotion for the island because on Madeira island, we have so many visitors and for them, it’s crazy for them to be here and see Ronaldo’s achievements. 

How involved is Cristiano is this museum

His brother is the manager and of course, Ronaldo is also his partner and it’s totally private[ly owned], the government is not involved. So it’s a family business…it’s a private museum.

How often does Cristiano come here?

Not very often, but at least once a year he comes here, normally Christmas season. And of course, when he comes it’s a pleasure…for the employees…to be with him, and even for Ronaldo, we can see…in his face when he is here looking at his trophies, he is very proud of them.

How many employees here at the museum?

7 (8 including his brother)

What is the most prized possession here at the museum for you, personally?

Personally…without any doubt is the European Cup because for the first time in Portuguese history we won that award and according to Ronaldo that’s the one that he really loves and was most important. Of course, the Golden Balls have a special meaning because we are talking about the best football player in the world. And the first (trophy) that Ronaldo won for me and for most of the visitors has a special meaning because it’s the first one that he got when he was just eight years old.

What are the favorites of the visitors that come to the museum?

They love to be here. (Visitors) say the museum is well organized. So the Golden Balls and the lux statues are the favorite things (the guests) take pictures (with).

Talk about the creative process, direction, and design behind the space.

talking about the art, we have some paintings here that were donated by the artists. Paintings of Ronaldo playing football. We have a multimedia system (where) you can watch his best moments—videos, photos about his career. And we have something interesting (where visitors) can take a photo, a virtual one, that afterward, we can print—a photo of you next to Ronaldo…It’s like you are standing next to Ronaldo, and it’s very cool. We also have another multimedia system in which you can take a picture holding the trophies—the Golden Balls, the Euro Cup and you can print it also.

About the design. it was an architecture firm…that with Ronaldo designed this, but the floor Ronaldo wanted (it) to be…a traditional Portuguese floor.  In Portugal, we have these small…tiles…and the visitors are impressed because (the floor) was (made) one by one by hand. 

Who funds the museum?

No one…this building belongs to the government so…we have to pay rent but we don’t have any funds, we don’t have any sponsors. It’s all private. It’s a family business. We just rent this space…Even the money we receive, Ronaldo doesn’t keep any…Some people think he’s so rich and he gets even more money, but that’s not true…the money goes to pay the taxes, the expenses, the employees and a part goes to charities (in) Madeira, local charitable associations and we donate to people in need. 

What are the future plans for the museum?

That’s a good question. Even…after he finishes his career…we hope to be successful as (we have been up) until now. I think after he finishes his career we will reorganize all the trophies…But the future plans are just to continue (what we) are doing now. What I mean is that it’s been successful (with) many visitors and we hope to stay like that.

Why should people visit the CR7 Museu?

First of all, for football fans, this is a great place, to be here…it’s not every day that you have the chance to see the real trophies in front of you, especially the Golden Balls…The museum offers a unique experience…you can see the real trophies (right) in front of you, the most important trophies…And no (other player) in the world has a football museum. (You) have Pelé in Brazil but it’s nothing compared to this museum…You can see everything that one of the biggest players in the world has achieved so far.

THE KFA TAKES A STYLED APPROACH TO THE WORLD CUP 2018

Although the on pitch play of the Korean National Football team has been lackluster at best, the team came correct off pitch for this years World Cup in Russia. Partnering up with design firm H9PITCH STUDIO, the KFA created a special collection of items that appeal to the world that lives outside of the game. From limited edition patches, skate decks, rings, air fresheners, bluetooth speakers, and bracelets the collection has something for everyone. Not until recent has repping your national team crest been looked at as stylish, but with the younger generation of fans emerging, the clubs and countries must keep up with the popular sense of style. The best part of this entire collection is the federation did it all private label. Avoiding the headache and red tape of the “big brand” the KFA was able to lean on a design group directly connected to the streets of Korea, in turn creating a collection that sends a message to the streets.

The inspiration behind the product stems from an ever growing need for “cool” in the soccer space. With so many small pop up brands entering the market, it seems only fitting that the big clubs and countries start to grasp the new wave of soccer. No longer is soccer tiro pants with the track jacket, or the mom in the mini van, as the key teams begin to take notice of the off pitch style, the growth of the sport will accelerate beyond anything can imagine. Tapping into the movement of the urban community will allow so many more people to be aware of how beautiful the game genuinely is. A gate way to the gam through the world of style.

When it comes to being first, Korea was not the first ones to do this, back in 2014 the USMNT teamed up with the likes of legendary artist Futura, Kayo skate, and Nike to create a players only collection and PSG created a full collection of product for its US Tours in both LA 2016 and Miami 2017,  but what Korea did do was break the mold for a federation and open this open to the masses. Allowing the fans of the national team to rep the country with pride and style is one thing, but when the fans of other countries are supporting, you know you have done something correct.

In my opinion, the collection is well rounded, creative and a step in the right direction. Hopefully sooner then later the powers that be inside the clubs and federations will take note. Until then you get one option. You can pick up the full KFA collection now at H9Pitch.

Peep the full collection below.

 

THE KTTP WORLD CUP WEEK 1 RETROSPECTIVE

Before I start my World Cup week 1 retrospective, I want to thank US Soccer, adidas Football, Fan Duel, and World Soccer Shop for giving KTTP the opportunity to tell its unique perspective on this year’s World Cup in Moscow. The effort of our family at US Soccer is what really kicked this entire opportunity off, and I would be foolish to not give credit to a group of people who took the risk of allowing such a hyper-focused outlet to represent the USA out here in Russia.

Arriving in the country, it was a bit surreal. From media propaganda to the political agendas surrounding the US and Russia relations, my thoughts on the trip to Russia was always one of skepticism. If it wasn’t for soccer, my want to go to Russian was a 0 from a 1-to-100 scale. Jumping on the flight outta LAX, the fact I was heading back to my third World Cup hadn’t hit me yet. Again, the anxiety of Russia was more on my mind than soccer. How would I get around? Was the apartment going to be as pictured? I got my visa, but would it be a struggle to get into the country itself? So many things had run through my head that soccer was the last thing on my mind.

That being said, flying 15 hours with two layovers was possibly the only thing negative I have to say about the trip up to this point. Upon landing in Moscow, the fact that I was here for arguably the biggest sporting event in the world finally hit me. World Cup 2018 had finally arrived. After almost 4 years of KTTP, the World Cup was not just about going to see matches, it was about sharing this beautiful game to the people who will be the future of the sport – through the eyes of culture. Where the casual fan meets the hardcore. A place where Sneakerheads, The Hip Hop community, Artist, and Designers can join in the conversation of the world’s game.

The first week of the World Cup has been no less than amazing off- and for sure on-pitch. Starting out with the Portugal versus Spain match in Sochi, Rich and I had the opportunity to view the game from two very different perspectives. I’m not going to bore you with the details as I am pretty sure you witnessed the greatness that is CR7, but to feel the power and the passion of the fans at that match was on a whole new level. The rivalry that is Portugal versus Spain never seems to disappoint, and on the night of June 15th 2018, it felt like two heavyweight boxers trading haymakers, each one landing at a precise moment but never falling. Diego Costa was a killer that night, along with Nacho and his Golaso, but leave it to Ronaldo to shine, and that he did.

After the trip to Sochi, we worked our way back to HQ in Moscow and prepared for a few days of back-to-back matches. Starting with the Germany versus Mexico match on June 16th. Before I go on, I must say this was the loudest I have ever heard a stadium before. The noise of the crowd was literally deafening. The Mexico fans completely outmatched Germany’s, and the game results seemed to mirror that same situation. Watching Mexico score the lone goal on arguably the best team in the world was a sight to be seen. I don’t know what team besides Mexico that has a fan base willing to pay $15 to $20 USD for a beer and then within seconds throw it up in the air for the love of the country. It’s absolutely mad!!! So when the ball crossed the goal line, the German fans in Moscow where introduced to the special tradition. It showered beer for a good 30 seconds in the area I was sitting in, and the power of the Mexico fanbase never seemed to die. After being a witness to CR7 and his late-game masterpiece, and following that with a massive win by Mexico, I couldn’t help but look forward to what was coming.

On Monday the 18th we had a day off – sorta – where I took advantage of the Nike Football space located in Gorky Park. The new Nike space opened up a day before I arrived with a large crowd and special guest, Ronaldo Lima. The space was a well-designed sports facility with a dedicated half-basketball court, a small sided caged soccer space, and an indoor activation center. Nike spared no expense during the World Cup and created a design studio inside dubbed the NIKE BOX MSK. The studio was on another level. From jerseys, numbers, patches and more, the workshop is set up for pure creativity. Custom cut and sew stations facilitate almost anything you can create made out of a Nike kit top. Working with our Nike help, I secured a spot to produce a special 1-of-1 KTTP kit top. Given the time frame of 2 hours, plenty can be accomplished, and if you are in Moscow and have the time, I highly recommend this experience.

Leading into Tuesday the 19th, I was anticipating getting to check out Spartak stadium, where Poland would face of with Senegal. I had made my way to the stadium earlier in the week to try and get a media ticket to the Argentina versus Iceland match, and was able to get into the tunnel to witness Messi have his PK saved. What a disappointment for Messi, but that’s another topic for another day. Not knowing what I know now, and since I didn’t get to check out the full stadium beforehand, I was more excited to get check out the architectural feat over watching the match, but as you all know, the match turned out to be just as special as the first couple that I had highlighted. As we all are fans of the sport, underdogs always seem to capture the world’s attention. Senegal, with names that most casual fans are not familiar with, faced off against Poland featuring captain and world-class striker Robert Lewandowski. Packed to the max, Spartak stadium was solid in red. Poland came out to represent and they made it known. Not quite at the level of what Mexico had going, Poland still had the stadium super live for the full 90 mins. The Senegal support was few and far between, but I did notice the fans from Senegal were turned up in the little masses that came to support. The match was epic and at the final whistle, the stadium was filled with a special feeling that this World Cup had something amazing happening. This match marked the first African nation win at this year’s World Cup, and as Senegal looks to continue forward, I would suggest keeping an eye on them. Cinderella runs are always amazing to witness.

All this leads me to Wednesday the 20th, attending the Portugal versus Morocco match at Luzhniki Stadium. Portugal is my team this World Cup. If the US had made it then things would be different, but for my entire life, Portugal has been a very close second to the US. Getting to watch them play twice in a 7-day time span was something else for me personally. My father’s side of the family comes from the Azores off the mainland of Portugal, and as much as I want to claim my roots, I just don’t know much about them. Being able to follow a team from a country where my ancestors come from allows me to feel a bit closer to my heritage. It also helps that Cristiano is on a record-breaking pace this World Cup. To that note, CR7 did not disappoint. Putting his 4th goal in with a crazy diving header, the stadium erupted. Packed with what was announced at 78,000 people in attendance, it felt as though the Morocco support outnumbered the Portuguese. Donning the same national colors for both teams, it was hard to tell which support group represented who until a crazy foul had happened or a missed foul occurred. The game, in all honesty, was very ugly and boring, to say the least. After the wild header, Portugal played very uninspiredly, and all they looked to do was pass to Cristiano – no creative play whatsoever. Move to the other side of the ball and you have a team with no striker that had countless opportunities but just couldn’t find that finishing touch. This all played out into an ugly match, but Portugal walked away with 3 points so I was happy.

Capping off a crazy ass week was the opportunity to work with World Soccer Shop for the duration of the World Cup. As “Content Creators,” KTTP has been able to gain field access and stadium access unlike most. I have been able to access areas and see things that a normal fan will never be able to see. It brings out a different feeling being able to be on the inside of the game at the pinnacle of the sporting world’s biggest global event.  Standing in the mixed media zone after the Portugal versus Spain match, I got to watch De Gea a foot away from me, talk about how he made massive mistakes. Pique was within 3 feet of me explaining his thoughts on the draw, Ronaldo briskly walked past my space with a little nod. As much as I can try to explain this in words, nothing can compare to my reality this last week. If anything that I have said sparks your interest, make sure to stay tuned to the website as we will be updating a daily journal for the second half of our trip, follow our IG @kickstothepitch as well, and shoot over to IG handle @wrldsoccershop to get a behind-the-scenes look, as well as our journey through the 2018 World Cup Russia.