Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most famous sports stars in the world, having surpassed countless soccer records to rise above the rest. He will certainly go down in history as one of the most inspiring and fearless soccer stars to ever live.

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro was born on February 5, 1985 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal; a small island off the western coast of the country. His father, José Dinis Aveiro, was an equipment manager for Andorinha, a Portuguese soccer club; and his mother, Maria Dolores dos Santos, was a cook and cleaning lady. Ronaldo is the youngest of four children and gained the name “Ronaldo” because Ronald Reagan was his father’s favorite actor.

Ronaldo had a modest upbringing, growing up in a working class neighborhood. He shared one room with his three siblings in a house where food was often scarce. He said that he used to beg for hamburgers at the local McDonald’s with his two older sisters. To complicate things further, his dad was heavily addicted to alcohol. Due to this, he later died after suffering kidney issues related to his drinking in 2005.

“MY FATHER WAS FUNNY WHEN HE WAS DRUNK, BUT I DIDN’T GET TO KNOW HIM FOR REAL—FROM THE HEART, AND I DON’T KNOW WHY HE DRANK, MAYBE HE WAS FRUSTRATED WITH HIS LIFE,” RONALDO SAID.

Nonetheless, his dad was the one who introduced him to the game of soccer at a young age. By the time he turned 10, he was living and breathing all things soccer. By his early teens, he was playing on teams and showing off his skills. He first played for Clube Desportivo Nacional of Madeira and then transferred to Sporting Clube de Portugal (known as Sporting Lisbon), where he played for that club’s various youth teams before making his debut on Sporting’s first team in 2002 at 17-years-old. Originally a right-winger, he developed into a forward.

One of Europe’s biggest soccer clubs, Manchester United, had taken notice of young Ronaldo’s work and vowed to pay a high sum to acquire him for their team. They paid more than $14 million, welcoming him on their team in 2003. His fee made him the most expensive teenager in English soccer history. It was on this team that he first wore the number 7 jersey, which would become a symbol to his fans for years to come.

His finest season with United came in 2007–08, when he scored 42 League and Cup goals and earned the Golden Shoe award as Europe’s leading scorer, with 31 League goals. After leading United to a Champions League title in May of 2008, Ronaldo secured Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Player of the Year honors for his 2007–08 season. He also paved the way for United to an appearance in the 2009 Champions League final, which they lost to FC Barcelona. In total, Ronaldo helped steer United to three premier league titles!

Ahead of the 2009–10 season, Ronaldo was transferred to Spanish soccer club Real Madrid. They acquired him for a world record transfer fee of $131 million. Ronaldo made his debut in La Liga in August of 2009 against Deportivo La Coruña, and scored from the penalty spot in Madrid’s 3–2 home win. He scored in each of his first four league fixtures with the club, the first Madrid player to do so. In 2011–12, Ronaldo helped Madrid capture a La Liga championship and scored a personal best of 46 goals during the League season. In 2014, he scored 52 goals in 43 games and led Madrid to a Champions League title, which also awarded him yet another award, the Ballon d’Or. The accolades didn’t stop there for Ronaldo, who continued to break records and get better day by day. In 2016–17, he scored 42 goals for Real across all competitions and led his team to La Liga and Champions League titles. Around the same time, he picked up his fifth career Ballon d’Or award.

After dropping hints that his time with Real Madrid was coming to an end, Ronaldo signed with Italian Serie A club, Juventus, in 2018. “I felt that inside the club, especially from the president, they no longer considered me the same way that they did at the start,” he said.

“IN THE FIRST FOUR OR FIVE YEARS THERE I HAD THE FEELING OF BEING ‘CRISTIANO RONALDO.’ AFTERWARDS, THE PRESIDENT WANTED ME BUT, AT THE SAME TIME, HE MADE IT KNOWN TO ME THAT MY DEPARTURE WOULD NOT CONSTITUTE A PROBLEM. THE DIFFERENCE WITH JUVENTUS IS THAT THEY REALLY WANTED ME. THEY TOLD ME THAT AND MADE IT CLEAR.”

They paid a hefty $140 million transfer fee to Real, the highest ever for a player over 30 years old and the highest paid by an Italian club. His first season with his new team went exceptionally well as he scored 10 times in his first 14 games, and headed home the lone goal in a win over AC Milan for the Supercoppa Italiana trophy. On April 20, 2019, Ronaldo played in the Scudetto clinching game against rivals Fiorentina as Juventus won their eighth successive Serie A title after a 2–1 home win. He became the first player to win league titles in England, Spain, and Italy. Finishing his first Serie A campaign with 21 goals and 8 assists, Ronaldo won the inaugural Serie A Award for Most Valuable Player that year.

Right now the soccer star is in his third consecutive season with the team. It began September 1, 2020 and will last until June 30, 2021. In November of last year, he contracted COVID-19 and had to take off three weeks from playing to recover. After, he came back stronger than ever in a game against Spezia, where he came off the bench in the second half and scored within the first three minutes.

Juventus isn’t the only team Cristiano plays for though. He also has incredible international experience on his home country Portugal’s team. He first began his international career representing his country in the under-17’s team in 2002. He also played with the Portugal under-23 team at the 2004 Summer Olympics. He finally played his first senior game for Portugal when he was 18 in August 2003 against Kazakhstan. He scored his first goal in a game against Greece at the UEFA Euro in 2004. He was soon chosen to play at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which was his first-ever World Cup. During the tournament, he scored a goal against Iran. He was a key player in Portugal’s fourth-place finish at this World Cup and quickly rose to become the full-time captain of the national team in 2008. In 2016, he helped Portugal win the European Championship, the country’s first major international tournament title, and then in the 2018 World Cup, he scored four goals in four games as Portugal advanced to the knockout round.

Besides soccer, Ronaldo is also known for his family life and business partnerships. He has four children, his first being born on June 17, 2010. The mother of his son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr., is unknown as he vowed to keep her identity a secret. He has full custody of his son. That same year in 2010 he began dating Russian model Irina Shayk. The two had met on the set of an Armani ad and quickly fell in love. They dated for five years, eventually separating in 2015.

In 2016, Ronaldo began dating Argentinean model Georgina Rodriguez. They met at a Dolce & Gabbana event in Madrid and were seen together at Disneyland Paris not too long after. On June 8, 2017, Ronaldo had twins, daughter Eva and son Mateo, via surrogacy near San Diego, California. The identity of the surrogate is unknown. At the time of his twins’ birth, his girlfriend Rodriguez was pregnant with their daughter, Alana Martina. She was born on November 12, 2017.

“BECOMING A PARENT AND RAISING MY FAMILY IS HONESTLY THE GREATEST PRIVILEGE I’VE HAD. I’M ENJOYING EVERY SECOND OF IT,” RONALDO SAID. “IT’S TAUGHT ME THINGS ABOUT LOVE I NEVER KNEW EXISTED. IT HAS SOFTENED ME AND GIVEN ME NEW PERSPECTIVE ON WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT IN MY LIFE.”

Ronaldo and Rodriguez are still together, happily parenting the four children. The family lives in Turin, Italy in a gated double-villa that features a private road, a private garden, 8-bedrooms, a gym, an indoor pool, and lush vegetation.

Cristiano’s extreme influence and stardom made him a desirable candidate for companies to partner with. He has become one of the highest-paid endorsers in sports history, earning a “life time” contract with Nike in November of 2016. He is only the third person to receive this sponsorship deal, after Michael Jordan and LeBron James. He has also established his own brand, CR7, which offers shoes, bags, apparel, and more. CR7 refers to a popular nickname given to him by his fans, the number 7 referencing his jersey number.

By Selene Rivera