Words by Danny Brown
At some point in most young football fans lives, they’ve pretended to be Christiano Ronaldo, even for a few seconds. Find me someone who hasn’t struck that signature wide-legged pose down the park before smashing an imaginary free kick straight into the top bins. Well, Shanta Ronaldo has taken that fantasy and gone a step further.
At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking Shanta Ronaldo is the real deal. The 20-year-old (real name Shanta Kordbatchje) has adopted everything from his idols surname, hairstyle and even his iconic #7 shirt number. The effect is interesting to say the least.
Nicknamed the ‘Iranian Ronaldo’, the young footballer has a social media following just shy of 40,000 people and takes inspiration from his role model in pretty much everything he does, down to the way he acts and even the clothes he wears. But when did this unique obsession first begin?
“Being a Real Madrid fan, I discovered Christiano back in 2009 and I instantly saw that he was special. People today admire players for having great technique etc. but the reason why Christiano is my idol is his mentality. He can play in a game for 89 minutes and do nothing but then, all of a sudden, he’ll score.
That’s what I admire about him. His mentality is something I’ve learned a lot from. The way he acts and works hard is important – with the right mentality you can always take steps forward. His goals and stats speak for themselves. He’s an example for everyone.”
Following in the footsteps of Ronaldo, Shanta has begun carving out a footballing career for himself and currently plays for Odense Boldklub, a club in Denmark’s Superliga. Admittedly, not quite at the level of his role model just yet – but Shanta’s got big plans and even hopes to one day play against his Ronaldo himself for Iran at the 2022 World Cup.
“I started playing football here at Odense Boldklub when I was six years old. Football has always played a huge role in my life ever since I was I kid. My parents always supported me from the start and they still do right now – my dad actually played at high level back in Iran. I was born here Denmark, and that’s where my footballing career started.
I’m 20 years old and my goal is currently to develop as a player and one day play outside of Denmark. A few months ago, I had trials with LA Galaxy and in a short time I’m going to Spain to train with a team in the Segunda Division there. My dream is to represent the Iranian National Team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There are good things on the way. I’m confident.”
Shanta could hardly call himself Ronaldo’s biggest fan without having met the man himself, and he’s done that (just a few times). When Ronaldo was at Madrid, Shanta became known for waiting hours outside the club’s training ground in Spain to meet his hero and has met CR7 on at least a dozen occasions. But how does he feel about Ronaldo’s move to Italy to play for Juventus last summer?
“Yes, I’ve met him many times. He’s a great person. We spoke a lot and he wished me good luck for everything. He knows they call me the Iranian Cristiano Ronaldo! Sometimes in life, the unexpected things happen but in a positive way. I think it was the correct time for him to leave. As he always does, he scores goal after goal and he does the speaking on the pitch.”
While Shanta’s unmistakable similarity to Ronaldo has gained him a lot of popularity, it’s also caused him to get a bit of stick over the years. One newspaper claimed that Shanta had legally changed his surname to Ronaldo plus spent thousands of pounds on plastic surgery to look like his idol, but Shanta says these stories are rubbish and his looks are simply a coincidence.
“Haha! Please do not believe those fake stories. Are they still alive? Haha. Of course. The reason why I called my social media accounts ShantaRonaldo is because of the fame I got from that name. Looking like Cristiano? I think it’s more in a natural way. I just focus on my game and life. Then people can say whatever they want. I don’t want to look like Christiano. What what I want is to reach my goals and to get inspired by the best.”
Haters? They make him, and me, stronger. It’s part of my life now, I just have to keep going.”
So what is on the horizon for Shanta Ronaldo? While the 20-year-old has big dreams on the football pitch, he also sees a future for himself off it and has begun coaching young kids in Demark with the hope of launching a career in coaching to run alongside his playing career. His favourite coach is Jose Mourinho (which must be something to do with Portuguese people).
“I have always wanted to develop my coaching career too as I have always and still admire tactics, coaching stuff and the mental part of the football game. My favourite coach is José Mourinho and I try to learn from him a lot, for me he is the best! The reason is simple, he knows what he is doing and have the right mentality.
For me it’s a pleasure to coach kids and to learn from my experiences. And of course, it is really a pleasure when the kids admire they have a football player as a coach. My goal is to become a better coach everyday. Let’s see what happens in the future!”
Whatever people say about Shanta, from speaking him it’s clear he’s a lovely bloke with big ambitions and we’ve got absolutely no doubt he’ll go far doing what he loves – Ronaldo or not. Keep doing you Shanta.
In the meantime, we seriously suggest you go and follow Shanta on Instagram and Twitter at @ShantaRonaldo.