It’s one of the greatest stories football has ever told, an epic tale about a legendary player…the evolution of Cristiano Ronaldo.
In a stunning career he’s travelled from Portugal to Manchester United, and then to Juventus in Serie A, via Real Madrid where he enjoyed his most spectacular success. From a humble beginning in Madeira Ronaldo has achieved feats so monumental that most of the professional players in Europe’s top leagues can only dream of.
He dazzled the Premier League at Manchester United, swept all before him at Real Madrid before becoming Juventus’ biggest signing in 2018. And, along with Lionel Messi, he is considered one of the best two players in world football over the last decade, if not in history. Of course, while Messi has dominated La Liga throughout his career, Ronaldo has been a superstar across three top leagues.
Now at Juventus he’s still the top dog, and when the Serie A 2020 results start to roll in again, CR7 will be in the thick of the action no doubt.
Sporting star heads to Manchester
Born and raised in the Portuguese province of Madeira, as a boy he played for Andorinha where his dad was the kit man, then in 1997 at the age of 12 he signed for Sporting CP for a fee of £1,500.
What a deal!
Ronaldo made the first team at the age of 16, after impressing with his dribbling skills at youth level, and within a year, Arsenal, Liverpool and Barcelona were all tracking the boy wonder. But it was Manchester United who won his signature as he became their first Portuguese signing in 2003. The £12m fee made him the most expensive teenager in the game and he received the number seven shirt, made famous at Old Trafford by the great George Best, and later worn by Eric Cantona and David Beckham.
Sir Alex Ferguson took him under his wing, and developed him from a skinny, tricky teenager with a reputation for falling down too easy, to a muscle-bound all-round Manchester United player, strong in the tackle, powerful in the air, with a brilliant dead-ball delivery and still showing his dazzling skill with the ball at his feet.
He left Old Trafford with nine trophies, scoring 42 goals in his penultimate season, and saying of Sir Alex, “He’s been my father in sport, one of the most important and influential factors in my career.”
CR7 arrived in Manchester as a boy and left as a man.
The complete player arrives in Madrid
Having paid a world record transfer fee of £80m in 2009, Real Madrid had bought pretty much the finished article in Ronaldo.
He scored on his debut in a 3-2 home win over Deportivo La Coruna and became the first Los Blancos player to score in each of his first four appearances. The following season he was awarded the number 7 shirt when Raul departed, and he equalled his personal scoring record of 42 goals in all competitions. In the 2011-12 La Liga season he smashed that figure, scoring an incredible 60 goals, and that preceded a run of three consecutive Ballon D’Ors from 2013 to 2015.
In 2016 Ronaldo became the club’s all time top scorer, his five goals in a 6-0 win over Espanyol took his La Liga tally to 230, beating Raul’s total.
Portugal’s natural born leader
That was the year Ronaldo lifted the European Championship as skipper of this country. He had held the captaincy since 2007, the day after his 22nd birthday.
By 2012 he had picked up his 100th cap in a 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland and he scored his first international hat-trick against the same nation the following year. In 2014 he became Portugal’s all time top scorer when he bagged his 49th goal in a friendly against Cameroon.
His crowning moment came at the Euro 2016 final when his side beat hosts France, even though he was stretchered off after a collision with Dimitri Payet.
Following the postponement of Euro 2020 due to the spread of coronavirus, Portugal will have to wait a year to defend their title but, rest assured, we’ll be right there with SBOTOP in 2021.
Ronnie dances with the Old Lady
In the twilight of his career CR7 looks just as good as ever; and no wonder after I Bianconeri paid a massive 100m Euros for him. In his fourth appearance he scored the 400th league goal of his career in a 2-1 win over Sassuolo and when the Old Lady won an eighth successive Scudetto Ronaldo became the first player to win league titles in England, Spain and Italy.
And he’s not finished yet.
The latest Serie A 2020 tips suggest he’s about to pick up another league title when the season resumes as Juventus are set to race to the finish alongside Lazio.
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