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Friday, October 4, 2002
Ronaldo's importance of preparation

By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

News item: Ronaldo recently told a reporter that the key to his success is having sex just before a crucial soccer match. He also says that to save his strength, he lets his wife do most of the work.

Soccer the Ronaldo Way
Ronaldo
After a weak performance in the 1998 World Cup championship, Ronaldo rose to the challenge in 2002.
Sure, winning the World Cup appears exciting and glamorous, what with billions of fans pledging their undying devotion, millions of dollars in annual salary and endorsements, thousands of reporters calling for interviews and hundreds of thong-wearing hotties begging for your body.

And when I put it like that, I have to admit that being a World Cup player is exciting and glamorous, especially compared to your life.

But none of that comes without a price. First, you have to be a magnificently gifted athlete, which I am, and you probably are not, which pretty much means you're screwed. But even if you are a supremely talented player, you still must carefully prepare yourself. You can't just rush onto the pitch and expect to score the winning goal in the World Cup. Scoring in the game is a direct result of scoring before the game and you must do everything required to make sure your body is in an absolute state of readiness.

Here are my secrets to preparing properly.

1. Put yourself in a position to win. Sometimes, it isn't enough to simply be handsome and talented (though it is for me). Sometimes, more is required. Sometimes, you must pamper her first to make her want to help you get ready. So in the days and weeks leading up to a big match, tell her she is beautiful. Tell her you desire her. Buy her jewelry and chocolates. Have a bouquet of roses delivered to her office. Take her to an expensive dinner.

Milene Domingues
Ronaldo's wife, Milene Domingues, certainly deserves more credit for his recent success.
She'll love you for it.

But, you ask, doesn't this all sound expensive and time-consuming? Yes, it is. That's why you should have your agent do it for you.

2. Study the videotape. In the old days it once was enough to rely on knowledge from prior games and advance scouting. Not anymore. Today's game demands that you use all technologies available and that includes reviewing videotapes. One favorite that I've found to be very effective is "Soccer Moms ... And Daughters.''

And don't cheat yourself. I've learned that it takes repeated viewings to pick up all the nuances and tendencies.

3. Focus on your game. Coaches love to give pep talks, but for me, there is nothing better than getting away someplace private and getting yourself nice and relaxed, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

4. Make sure the playing field is ready. I've found that surrounding the goal area with lit candles and strewing rose petals everywhere is a nice touch that always helps set the mood. Keeping a nice bottle of pinot noir and some chocolate paint within easy reach is also a good idea.

Brazilian fans
If you don't have your own soccer groupies, use whatever you have around the house.
And for my money, you can't go wrong with an Anthony Boccelli CD playing in the background.

5. Pace yourself. The last thing you want is to leave your game in the locker room and enter the game with weak legs and a shortness of breath. So take it easy. Don't overexert yourself. Don't be afraid to pass the ball off, lie back, relax and let someone else take control.

If you find yourself getting "distracted," I've also found that mentally ranking all the major Italian cities in descending order of population often helps.

Now, if you strictly follow my all advice, I can't guarantee you'll win the World Cup. But if you strictly follow my advice, you may not care, either.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at cuffscaple@hotmail.com.