When Cristiano Ronaldo scored his third goal of the Euro 2016 tournament for Portugal, during their semi-final tie with Wales, he took his European Championship Finals’ goal tally to nine, equalling Michael Platini’s record. The achievement is just the latest of many for the Real Madrid forward, who is widely seen as one of football’s greatest players.
So how has he got to where he is today and what honours has he received along the way? In the first of a new series of posts about sporting heroes, we take a look at the Portuguese team captain’s illustrious career.
A Star in the Making – Cristiano Ronaldo’s Early Career
Born on 5 February 1985, in Funchal, Madeira, Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro started his footballing career early. When he was eight, he began playing for CF Andorinha and, after two years there, he moved to Nacional. When he was twelve, he was signed by Sporting CP and joined the club’s youth academy.
László Bölöni, the manager of Sporting FC’s first team, recognised Ronaldo’s talent and promoted him. Cristiano played in his first Primeira Liga match at the age of 17, scoring two goals during the team’s 3 – 0 win against Moreirense.
The Move to Manchester United – Ronaldo Heads to the English Premier League
When the Reds signed Cristiano Ronaldo in a deal worth £12.24 million, Alex Ferguson was quoted on the club’s official website as saying that the teenage player was “an extremely talented footballer, a two-footed attacker who can play anywhere…”
“He is one of the most exciting young players I’ve ever seen,” the Manchester United manager added.
The young star’s first Premier League appearance for the club took place on 16 August 2003 and he scored his first goal for them against Portsmouth on 1 November of the same year. Manchester United went on to claim the FA Cup that season, giving Cristiano his first of many team trophy wins.
He racked up a host of honours during his time at the world-famous club. He was a key part of the teams that won the:
- 2004 FA Cup
- 2006 and 2009 Football League Cups
- 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2008/09 Premier League titles
- 2008 UEFA Champions League Final
- 2008 FIFA Club World Cup
- 2007 FA Community Shield.
His individual awards and titles included:
- the 2006-07 and 2007-08 PFA Players’ Player of the Year
- the 2008 FifPro World Player of the Year (now the Ballon d’Or)
- the 2007-08 Premier League Golden Boot
- winner of the 2007–08 European Golden Shoe
- winner of the 2009 FIFA Puskás Award.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for him during his time at the club, however. He was involved in a number of controversial incidents – most famously, an on-pitch confrontation with his United teammate, Wayne Rooney, at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, after which Rooney received a red card.
From Old Trafford to Santiago Bernabéu – Ronaldo’s Switch to Real Madrid
In 2009, he moved to Real Madrid for a transfer fee of £80 million, a world record-breaking amount, and scored a penalty in his first La Liga game, Madrid’s home tie against Deportivo de La Coruña.
His first year in Spain was a silverware-free one for the club but, since then, Cristiano has helped Real to win an array of prestigious football trophies:
- the 2011 and 2014 Copa del Rey competitions
- the 2011-12 La Liga
- the 2012 Supercopa de España
- the 2013-14 and 2015-16 UEFA Champions Leagues
- the 2014 UEFA Super Cup
- the 2014 FIFA World Club Cup.
His individual honours to date, while playing for Real Madrid, include:
Captaincy and Record-Breaking Caps – Cristiano’s International Career
Cristiano earned his first senior cap for his country in August 2003, in a match against Kazakhstan. He scored his first goal for Portugal in Euro 2004, and went on to play for the national team in the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008 tournaments.
He became the permanent national captain in July 2008 and led the team in the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 competitions. During Euro 2016, he beat Luis Figo’s record to become Portugal’s most capped player.
Are you a Ronaldo fan? What are your favourite moments from his career? Tell us in the comments section, or on Twitter or Facebook.