César Luís Prates can look back on an impressive career as a professional footballer. After his playing days, he dedicated himself to the faith.
Legs wide apart, a deep breath, and the incomparable run-up – Cristiano Ronaldo’s free-kick technique is quite unique at first glance. What few people know: he copied them from César Luís Prates. The 48-year-old used to be a teammate and mentor at CR7. But after his active career he turned away from football – and is now a Protestant pastor.
A rather unusual career path for a professional athlete. But faith has always played an important role in Prates’ life. In 1999, for example, as a Botafogo player, he showed a T-shirt with the inscription “Jesus” under his jersey when celebrating a goal. Today he tells the Brazilian portal UOL: “You don’t become a pastor, you are one. I acted like a pastor even before I was officially recognized.”
Cesar Prates, Cristiano Ronaldo’s mentor
Is that why Cristiano Ronaldo – the Portuguese has spoken publicly about his Christian faith several times – maintained such a good relationship with Prates? Probably not superficially. It was much more due to the footballing qualities of the Brazilian, who acted as a mentor for the then rising superstar during their time together at Sporting Lisbon.
“During our conversations, which were always about football, Cristiano said something to me that I will never forget. He told me that he will be the best player in the world. As a boy, he was just as obsessed with physical exercises as I was . And fate brought us together,” recalls Prates in an interview GOAL and SPOX.
And that’s how it happened that the Brazilian presented his free-kick technique to the young CR7. “I just showed him how I do it. And his shot is better than mine. The one who taught me how to take free-kicks was Dorinho at Internacional,” said the 48-year-old. And adds: “I got all this advice for free, so I give it for free. That’s my legacy.”
Prates’ move to Real Madrid
Prates was at Sporting from 2000 to 2003, playing for a year with Ronaldo, who was promoted to the Portuguese first team in the summer of 2002. And the mentor also has another station in common with his “protégé”: Real Madrid.
Aged 21, the Brazilian moved from his hometown club Internacional to Los Blancos in 1996. There it was only enough for him for the reserve team, after just one year he moved back to South America. The Wandervogel, who played for almost 20 different clubs, spent the majority of his career there – peppered with a few trips to Europe.
It was thanks to his father that Prates had the opportunity to become a professional soccer player. At the beginning of the 90s – when the ex-professional was just 17 years old – an old television got his football career rolling. “My father sold the TV to pay for the junior academy entrance fee. He told me that if I had to go back home, he would collect the rest.”