Considered the best football player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo has also become one of the wealthiest too. But, it wasn’t always that way. He came from a modest upbringing from the small Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. Determined to pursue his dream of becoming the best football player, Ronaldo went to the mainland of Portugal without his family at the ripe age of 12 as his father, Jose Dinis Aveiro battled addiction with alcohol. Once on the mainland, Ronaldo and his young teammates were often ganged-up on by robbers. In one incident, as his fellow players ran away from the robbers, he stood up to the would-be thieves and fought back.
“A gang jumped on me and my team-mates in the street. The other players ran away but I stood up and fought – and the robbers didn’t get anything,” said Ronaldo.
In 2003, Ronaldo signed with Manchester United and wore the number seven jersey, which once belonged to former renowned players like Bryan Robson and David Beckham. In England, Ronaldo never forgot where he came from, or his family. He was close with his father and as a youth they would watch football games together. With his newfound wealth he tried to help Aveiro fight his addiction to alcohol by sending him to the best treatment centers, but in 2005 his father passed away before a match against Russia. After getting the devastating news from his former coach in Portugal, Felipe Scolari and listening to Scolari’s story about losing his own father, Ronaldo went back on to the field and played the match against Russia, honoring his father the best way he knew how.
“He decided to play the match against Russia rather than fly back to Portugal immediately. I now think Ronaldo is not just the best player in the world, but the best person too,” said Scolari.
Earlier this year Ronaldo won his second FIFA Balloon d’Or in two years and the third for his career. Not one to get too comfortable, Ronaldo hopes to win more for years to come. Currently he plays for Real Madrid.
“I never thought I would win three Gold Balls. Fantastic. I want to win as many as possible. It’s hard, it’s very difficult to win. But everything is possible,” said Ronaldo.
- His full name is Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro.
- His middle name is “Ronaldo” because his dad was a fan of the actor Ronald Reagan, who later went on to become the 40th president of the United States.
- Ronaldo was diagnosed with a racing heart at 15-years-old. After having laser surgery for the condition which could have ended his career he continued practicing football a few days later.
- He doesn’t drink alcohol.
- When recruiters from Sporting C.P. Youth and Academy were searching for new football players Ronaldo was up against his childhood friend, Albert Fantrau, in a game where whoever scored the best out of three will be accepted to its club. When they were head-to-head in points Fantrau had the ball for the last shot, but passed it to Ronaldo who he thought was more deserving of the prize. Ronaldo got the shot in and was accepted into the academy. After Ronaldo thanked his friend for his successful career, reporters seeked out the unemployed Fantrau, who by their surprise lived in a lavish home with a fancy car. When asked how he was able to afford his lifestyle, he said “it’s from Cristiano.”