“Age is just a number”
People tend to hear this thing a lot in their lives. Some live up to this while many do not. In this world of huge diversity and culture there remains a common link which binds all people together. That’s football. And one man who stands tall in that profession is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo.
He has had one of most glittering careers as a footballer. And whatever he owns today is all due to his sheer hard work. From sweeping the streets of dusty Madeira to winning 5 Ballon d’Ors, he has achieved a lot in his life.
But things were not always this good. He was born on February 5, 1985 in Santo Antonio, a mountainous neighbourhood and one of the poorest communities of the capital Funchal.
Cristiano was born poor but had it in him to be the best
The son of Dolores, a cook, and Dinis, a municipal gardener, the family’s final addition was named Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro – the Ronaldo part chosen because of the then president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
Football was a part of life for the young Cristiano. Father Dinis, an alcoholic who sadly passed away from liver disease in 2005, worked as a kitman at local club Andorinha and asked Fernao Barros Sousa, a player there who had earlier represented the island’s biggest club, Nacional, if he would be Ronaldo’s godfather.
“I became Cristiano Ronaldo’s godfather because I played for Andorinha, where I met his father, Dinis, and so when Cristiano Ronaldo was born, he asked me if I would be the godfather at his baptism,” Barros Sousa told in an interview in Madeira.
“That day, Andorinha were playing in Ribera Brava, so I was going there, Dinis as well, and we arrived much later at the baptism, so late that the priest didn’t want to baptise him! We had to convince the priest to baptise him and that’s what happened. It’s a funny thing, it was all ready to start and we weren’t there. It wasn’t good!”
He was a youth prodigy at Andorinha, then at National and finally at Sporting CP. That’s where the fairytale began. He caught the attention of Europe’s elites while playing for Sporting. The hype around him was the same as that of Kylian Mbappe in today’s world. He and Ricardo Quaresma forged a successful side wing partnership that gave many defenders a serious run for their money.
“I see loads of talent in him. He will be a success if he continues like this” – Alex Ferguson
He ultimately ended up at Manchester United, the world’s biggest club then (after Real Madrid’s Galacticos team). Ferguson knew that he could make him a sensation in England. He wasn’t wrong. In the six season he played in greater Manchester, he proved the world that hard work and determination can take you places. In an already star studded team consisting of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes , Rio Ferdinand , Neville Brothers and the emerging Wayne Rooney, he created the maximum hype. He dribbled like a snake, shot like a beast, celebrated like a champion. He was the man to watch out. His goals against Bolton Wanderers, Backheel against West Ham, long rangers vs Blackburn and Portsmouth were a proof of that. He won the Ballon d’Or in 2008. And from the there was no stopping him. He earned a transfer to Real Madrid for a then world record fee of $94 million. Since then, he has tasted humongous success both collectively and individually.
Today he celebrates his 33rd birthday and he is still at the top of his game. Even Maradona, Ronaldinho, Cafu, Cruyff did bite the dust at this age. As the world celebrates his 33rd, WHAT’S THE HYPE recollects the top 10 moments of his career. (Don’t kill us if we have not included your favourite)
1) Transfer to Manchester United
He caught the eye of many clubs during his time at Sporting and at last earned himself a move to Manchester United. He spent six successful seasons there before moving to Real Madrid.
2) Long Ranger against Portsmouth
3) UCL triumph vs Chelsea
Manchester United fought hard till the Final minute of the match but it went to extra time. Cristiano missed the penalty, but John Terry slipped and story wide for Chelsea and Nicholas Anelka’s spot kick from 12 was saved by Edwin van Der Sar. And that was the decisive moment of the match. As the players thronged to congratulate the Dutch stopper, Ronaldo fell to his knees, with tears of joy and glory.
4) Transfer to Real for World Record fee
Real Madrid were in a bad condition at that po into of time. And their president Florentino Perez thought of overhauling his team completely. Forthat he sold Arjen Robben and signed Xabi Alonso, Kaka, Karim Benzema and none other than Cristiano. He was bought for a record fee, that made him the most expensive player in the world.His team needed a man who would lead them to glory and Ronaldo joined their ambitious project. He responded instantly and made a swift progress, scoring 33 goals in 35 matches in his debut season. That was a turning point in his career.
5) CL 13-14 victory
He scored a record 15 goals in the Champions League and his exploits against Bayern Munich took his team to the CL decider. As Madrid dreamt of regaining their lost trophy after 13 long years, Atletico stood in their way. They took the lead very early but a stoppage time header from captain Sergio Ramos saved their blushes. Match went to extra time. Real won 4-1 after extra and limited the trophy after a long time. It will always be remembered as Ronaldo’s competition, where he was the top scorer, had the most assists and had the best conversion rate.
6) Hattrick against Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg trumped Real 2-0 at the Volkswagen Arena in the first leg of the 2015-16 UCL Quarter Finals. As Zidane slumped to his second defeat as new Real Manager, his team needed motivation, a leader who would take them safely through to the Semis. As the second leg started all eyes were on Ronaldo. He scored a quick fire double in the first half to equalise on aggregate. His magical free kick in the 73rd minute secured Real’s place in the last 4. Ronaldo shut his critics and showed the World that he was the ultimate big game player.
7) UCL triumph 15-16
Again he was the top scorer of the competition with 18 goals to his name. He inspired his team to glory after useful goals against Roma, Wolfsburg, Shaktar.
His penalty made Real Champions of Europe for the second time in 3 seasons. He blasted home from 12 yards and ran to the touchline throwing away his jersey and celebrating like a warrior after winning a battle. It was a happy ending to an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Los Blancos.
8) Euro Cup triumph
One thing that Ronaldo didn’t have in his trophy cabinet was an International Trophy. He had an emerging squad consisting the likes of Renato Sanchez, Joao Mario, Andre Silva etc at his disposal. They somehow managed through to the finals, outscoring other in shootouts or scoring in the last minute. Up versus host France, they were dealt a major blow as Ronaldo himself was stretchered off inside 23 minutes due to a horror tackle from Dimitri Payet. He didn’t give up. Cristiano kept cheering his team from the sidelines and instructed his players. He was determined to win this and finally he prevailed as Eder slotted home in the dying minutes. Cristiano was all in tears, he smelt victory, he smelt glory. As the final whistle was blown his long-standing dream of winning an International Trophy became true. His goals against Hungary, Croatia earned him the record of most goals ever scored in Euro Cup competition.
9) UCL triumph 16-17
Real Madrid became the first ever team to win back to back Champions Leagues. And it was possible due to the heroic performances of Cristiano. He single handedly destroyed Bayern with a thumping Hattrick followed by another vs Atletico in the Semis. He continued his rich vein of form to the finals as he scored the opener and the 3rd goal from a Modric cross. His 11 goals made him the top scorer yet again. Despite the absence of Gareth Bale and poor form of Karim Benzema,he carried the attack and delivered Zidane his 6th trophy overall.
10) 5th Ballon D’or
Ronaldo won his fifth Ballon d’Or late last year. It was his fourth in the last 5 years after his maiden one in 2008. He was the reason why Madrid tasted success last season. He was at his razor sharp best in front of goal and his efforts made him a deserving winner. From trailing 1-4 to all time rival Lionel Messi, he brought it down to 5-5. No one ever believed that Ronaldo would come this far, even more at the age of 32. During the victory lap, fans cheered “Cristiano Ballon d’Oro!” as they backed him to be the next Ballon d’Or winner.