The FIFA World Cup begins this week. This year the storied competition takes place in Russia and, as always, it will feature some of the biggest stars in world football.
Among the elite footballers competing in Russia is Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be captaining Portugal. The 33-year-old is a five-time Ballon d’Or recipient who has won everything there is to capture in club football. Ronaldo also holds a European Championship winner’s medal due to Portugal’s triumph over France at Euro 2016.
Russia 2018 holds what might be Ronaldo’s last chance to add the prestigious World Cup to his long list of accomplishments. However, the veteran forward is facing a distraction heading into Russia after a specific threat was made against him by Daesh (the so-called Islamic State).
Earlier this year a mocked up image circulated around the dark web showing masked men in the process of beheading both Ronaldo and Argentina/Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. The image was accompanied by the caption, “Your blood will fill the ground” (per The Express).
Now The Mirror reports that Ronaldo will enjoy a beefed-up security detail during the games in Russia. Among the team protecting CR7 is Goncalo Salgado, a former professional mixed martial artist.
Salgado, who was present at the UEFA Champions League Final in Kiev last month, is a 6’2” heavyweight who ended his fighting career in 2014 with a record of 7-2. He fought out of Seixal, a community on the outskirts of Lisbon.
The majority of Salgado’s career was spent on the Portuguese regional circuit. There he defeated the wonderfully named Wanderson Silva aka Wandinho. Salgado also competed in Italy, South Korea, Belgium, and Switzerland.
Salgado’s last fight came at an M-1 Global show. There he lost via submission (arm lock) to Russian Arsen Abdulkerimov.
You can check out this highlight reel of Salgado courtesy of YouTuber Jucyzuka Lindinha.
Working alongside Salgado will be Nuno Marecos, a former paratrooper and part-time bullfighter. In his home town of Chamusca, Marecos leads a troupe of ‘forcados’.
Forcados are a staple of Portuguese bull-fighting events. In groups of eight these men compete in the pega de cara (face catch) where they attempt to grab a raging bull by the head and pin it to the ground. Forcados do not kill the bull at the end of the contest (butchers often do).
Both Salgado and Marecos work for a private security firm which The Mirror claims is run by a former spy.
Salgado isn’t the first fighter Ronaldo has spent time with. In 2016 he famously met up with former UFC champion Conor McGregor. Ronaldo is also good friends with controversial Dutch kick boxer Badri Hari. Hari is signed with Glory despite being embroiled in a number of legal matters and assault charges.