Dream becomes Real-ity

BRETT CLARKSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo should have more to smile about.

But the world's highest-paid soccer player wore a frown and cast his eyes to the pavement as he briskly made his way from the team bus to the doors of the Sheraton Centre yesterday.

"When he walked in, he didn't look up at anyone," Juan Hernandez, 23, of London, Ont., said outside the Sheraton yesterday. "He didn't seem very friendly, but they've been travelling."

The newly signed 24-year-old from Portugal is in town with the rest of Los Galacticos for tonight's sold-out friendly match against Toronto FC at BMO Field.

The legendary club, whose Spanish nickname literally means 'the superstars,' also held an open practice last night on the $250,000 grass field temporarily installed at BMO just for the team's visit.

With a mob of soccer nuts shrieking and pushing pens, shoes, shirts and soccer balls in his face, the $145-million Ronaldo, soccer's biggest headline magnet since the similarly fashion-conscious David Beckham, appeared weary of his fame.

Perhaps he was just weary.

The team's plane had landed from Madrid about 45 minutes earlier at Pearson's Terminal 3, where another crowd of screaming fans had also been waiting. At the Sheraton, he seemed to make a point of avoiding the autograph-seekers.

KAKA ALL SMILES

In contrast to Ronaldo's fellow FIFA World Player of the Year and teammate, midfielder Kaka was all smiles as he disembarked from the team bus.

Kaka signed autographs, as did many of his teammates.

Catherine DeDevitis, 22, and her sister, Adrianna, 17, travelled from Niagara Falls for a glimpse of the soccer giants and got autographs from Kaka, Guti, Pepe and Karim Benzema.

"Kaka stepped on my foot by accident," Catherine said. "Maybe I shouldn't wash this foot again."

Fan Jose Marti, 24, of London, Ont., summed up why Real Madrid has amassed the most titles, and money, of any football club on earth.

"They believe in playing the game beautifully -- an attacking, open-style of playing," Marti said. "They always attack and they try to entertain the crowd, and to me that's what soccer's all about. That's the way I play and that's what I believe in. That's why I'm a Madrid supporter."

Real Madrid faces Toronto FC tonight at BMO Field at 7:30.


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