Who Is Cristiano Ronaldo - The Ultimate Professional
Who is Cristiano Ronaldo?
In 1985, 35-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro – better known as Cristiano Ronaldo – was born in São Pedro, Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The youngest child of 4, Ronaldo came from a poor family. His mother, Maria Dolores dos Santos Viveiros da Aveiro, was a cook; meanwhile, his father, José Dinis Aveiro, was a municipal gardener and part-time kit man. The family’s circumstances were so dire, in fact, that Ronaldo’s mother revealed she had considered aborting him. Between poverty, his father's alcoholism and having too many children already, she did not believe that Ronaldo would have a good life. Her doctor refused to perform the procedure – a decision that would change the family’s fortunes forever.
Ronaldo grew up in a Catholic and impoverished home, sharing a room with all his siblings. Despite their humble beginnings, today, Ronaldo shares the success of his career with his siblings. His older brother Hugo, having once suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, has now achieved sobriety with Ronaldo’s support. Now, he owns a museum on Madeira that stores Ronaldo’s football medals, memorabilia, and life-size waxworks. Meanwhile, his sisters Elma and Katia enjoy careers as an influencer and singer, respectively.
How did he get to where he is today?
Football was always a part of Ronaldo’s life, even as a child. His father, who sadly passed away from liver disease in 2005, worked part-time as a kitman at the local football club, Andorinha. There, he met Fernao Barros Sousa, who played for Andorinha, and would later become Ronaldo’s Godfather. When Ronaldo began playing for the club’s youth team in 1992, Sousa recalled that he “was different from the other [children on the team]”.
Former team-mate, Ricardo Santos, now the coach of Andorinha FC, confirmed this in an interview with Goal, where he speaks of young Ronaldo’s natural talent for football. “…he was already a good player. He was faster than average, he already scored a lot of goals and he had great dribbling skills”, said Santos, adding: “Ronaldo was called 'abelhinha' (Little Bee) because he was small and he was very quick”.
It was not long before the Little Bee’s talents caused a buzz among other clubs in the area – most notably, he had the attention of the island’s biggest team, Nacional. His Godfather speaks of how Ronaldo came to play for the island-famous team: "I had left Andorinha and one day, Nacional’s coach came along and asked me to watch Andorinha play because there was a very talented boy there. So, I didn’t waste time: I went there to see Andorinha play and I realised that the boy was Ronaldo!” Being in charge of Nacional’s youth team, Sousa brought Ronaldo onto the team. Thus, the man who had been there at his christening in 1985; who had recognised his talent as a child, played a pivotal role in launching Ronaldo’s lucrative football career.
It was clear to everyone on the island that Ronaldo was a child with an incredible talent. His coach at Nacional described him as “a kid who had immense abilities, immense potential.” But, coming from such a small island, what hope did he have of further pursuing football as a career? Despite being the top talent in Madeira, the island had never even produced a Portuguese international – much less one of the best footballers in the world. At the time, playing football professionally seemed like a distant dream. But Ronaldo’s Godfather was determined to help him succeed. Introducing him to local magistrate Joao Marque de Freitas – a partner of Sporting CP, who had contacts at the Lisbon-based club – Sousa insisted that Ronaldo be scouted for the team. After three days in Lisbon, Sporting scout, Aurelio Pereira noted that Ronaldo “was so good that the professionals looked over to check the boy’s skills.” Sporting were so impressed with his performance that, aged 12, Ronaldo moved to Lisbon to embark on the next step in his career.
But living alone at 12, in an unfamiliar city, did not come without issues. Ronaldo’s Madeiran accent made him an easy target for school bullies in Lisbon. The bullying was relentless, and Ronaldo became homesick. He became so dejected, in fact, that Sporting sent him home to Madeira in his second year – they did not want a player who had no desire to be there.
That might have been the end of Ronaldo’s big dream to be a footballer, but Freitas – who had become Ronaldo’s manager – intervened, urging him to go back to Lisbon and play for Sporting. “He was the future of [his] family”, Freitas said, and such potential could not go to waste. So, Ronaldo returned to Lisbon, where he would hone his skills in one of Europe’s finest football academies. In 2002, he made his debut on Sporting Lisbon’s first team. However, Ronaldo played for Sporting’s team for just one season; following an incredible performance against Manchester United, he signed for the elite club in 2003 and traded in his number 28 Sporting shirt for the number 7.
A clear indicator of just how well-loved a player he would become, Ronaldo’s transfer fee of £12.24 million made him the most expensive teenager in English football history, at that time. Ronaldo immediately won the hearts of football fans everywhere and was quickly regarded as one of the best forwards in the game. Ronaldo formed a strong relationship with his manager, Alex Ferguson, who he even referred to as his “father in sport” and “one of the most important and influential” figures in his career.
Ronaldo played with Manchester United for a total of 6 years, maturing from an inexperienced player in 2003, to the best footballer on the planet in 2009. It was no surprise, then, when Real Madrid – who Ronaldo had long been rumoured to want to play for – offered a record £80 million transfer fee for the player. Ronaldo left Manchester United, having scored 118 goals and 69 assists during his time with the team. His scoring prowess shone during his stint with Real Madrid, as he went on to score a total of 450 goals and 132 assists, before finally signing a 4-year contract with Italian club Juventus in 2018.
Appearances: 31 / Goals: 5 / Assists: 3
Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira
Appearances: 292 / Goals: 118 / Assists: 69
FA Cup Winner
Football League Cup
FA Community Shield
UEFA Champions League
FIFA Club World Cup
Appearances: 438 / Goals: 450 / Assists: 132
Copa del Rey
Supercopa de España
UEFA Champions League
UEFA Super Cup
FIFA Club World Cup
Appearances: 93 / Goals: 70 / Assists: 19
2x Serie A
5x Ballon d’Or
FIFA World Player of the Year
Best FIFA Men’s Player
FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball
FIFPro World Player of the Year
5x World Soccer Player of the Year
6x Globe Soccer Award for Best Player of the Year
ESPY Award for Best International Men’s Soccer Player
5x Goal 50
2x The Guardian’s Best Male Footballer in the World
3x UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award
UEFA Club Forward of the Year
2x UEFA Champions League Forward of the Season
UEFA Club Footballer of the Year
Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo had been teammates at Manchester United for two years when they faced off against each other in the 2006 World Cup. Rooney, after a clash with Ricardo Carvalho, was sent off the pitch. Ronaldo winked towards the bench once Rooney was dismissed, as if pleased. This resulted in Ronaldo being booed throughout the 2006/07 season.
In one interview, Ronaldo talks of how Scholes’ precision with a ball humbled him: “Once I was showing my skills to Scholes. After I finished, Scholes took the ball and pointed to a tree which was about 50m from where we were standing. He said, I'm going to hit it in one shot. He kicked and hit the tree. He asked me to do the same; I kicked about 10 times, but still couldn't hit it, with that accuracy. He smiled and left.” He continued: “If you don't learn from guys like that, you're an imbecile.”
Together, Ramos and Ronaldo have won a staggering 15 trophies. However, the two have had a frosty relationship for the last two years, following Ronaldo’s inelegant outburst in response to Luka Modric’s 2018 Ballon d’Or win.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Ronaldo and Ferguson share a close relationship, with Cristiano claiming to see Ferguson as a father-figure in sport and an important mentor throughout his career. Ferguson also revealed the Portuguese is the player who he most appreciated during his tenure at Old Trafford, just based on his meteoric improvement in such a short space of time.
Mourinho, also a Portuguese national, had a rocky relationship with Ronaldo for much of their time working together. Differences in their native upbringing caused the initial rift between the two, with a complete breakdown in their relationship taking place in 2012/13. Mourinho claimed that Ronaldo was arrogant and difficult to work with. However, over the years, both have seemed to warm to each other. Ronaldo has cited Mourinho as his best manager – even above Ferguson. Meanwhile, Mourinho has said that coaching “goalscoring machine” Ronaldo was the highlight of his career.
Sponsorship Deals and Business Interests
Ronaldo has a lifetime contract with Nike Inc., reportedly worth around $1billion. This is just one of many sponsorships, including:
Ronaldo also has his own clothing line called CR7, which includes children's clothes modelled by his son.