Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most talented and successful football stars of all time. Over his playing career, he has amassed incredible goals, trophies, and personal records. Many fans consider Ronaldo to be the greatest player of all time and his rivalry with Lionel Messi over the last decade has seen the superstars pushing each other to levels never seen before. In this article we will look at three key stages of Ronaldo’s life and career that helped to make a true footballing legend.
Early Life in Madeira
Cristiano Ronaldo was born on February 5, 1985, on the Portuguese island of Madeira, Portugal. His early life was very hard as his father was an alcoholic who was often out of work. These days, news about Ronaldo focuses on his amazing sporting achievements and glamorous lifestyle, but life for young Cristiano was very hard. His family struggled financially and the young Ronaldo faced taunting and bullying from other children on his youth teams and at school. This adversity helped to forge Ronaldo’s famous mental strength and resilience. He was determined to prove people wrong and to make a better life for his family and these are resolutions that he has held on to his whole life.
When still very young, he moved away from his family to join Sporting Lisbon. This was very hard for the young Ronaldo as his family, whilst poor, were very close. He faced further adversity when he was diagnosed with a heart condition which became a threat to end his burgeoning career. Fortunately for football fans all over the world, his surgery was successful and the heart condition became just another obstacle that he had overcome.
The performances of the young man already started to attract the attention of some of the biggest football clubs in Europe even before a fateful match against Manchester United that changed his life forever. Cristiano Ronaldo put in an incredible performance, which had Manchester United’s players pleading with legendary manager Alex Ferguson to sign the young Portuguese. Ferguson, hugely impressed by Ronaldo’s confidence and ability did not need convincing. He was signed by Manchester United for a record transfer fee for a teenager and the next step on his road to superstardom was taken.
Still just a young man, Ronaldo found himself in a new country where he couldn’t speak the language, where he was sharing a dressing room with highly decorated, unforgiving pros. Whilst highly impressed by his talent, the Manchester United players were less enamoured with some of his diving and showboating, and United defender Rio Ferdinand described later how they “kicked it out of him”. But all the players were won over by his supreme professionalism and dedication, with many famous players going on to describe him as the hardest working footballer they had ever seen. At Manchester United, Ronaldo’s development was incredible and after winning every trophy available domestically and in Europe, he made the move to Real Madrid, the club of his boyhood dreams. After that, we all know what happened!
What Cristiano Ronaldo went on to achieve at Madrid and with the Portuguese national team is the stuff of legends, and he is showing so signs of slowing down now at Juventus. But it was the early years in Portugal and his breakthrough at Manchester United where the world-class man emerged from the supremely talented boy.
Hard work, dedication and a burning desire to prove critics wrong were attributes that have driven him on his whole career. His success can be a lesson for young people everywhere. Hard work pays off.