The Strongest Will to Win: The Story of Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t just a superstar, he’s a global phenomenon. He has more followers than any other athlete on Twitter, and his page is the most popular Facebook page among people, places, and things on the site. Of course, he’s earned this massive following with his extraordinary ability. He’s won too many accolades to list in some of the world’s most competitive soccer leagues. Even over the age of 30, which can prove to be a turbulent period for athletes, he only seems to be getting better. Before reaching unfathomable fame, Ronaldo was an 11-year-old boy in a big city without his family, trying to seize the opportunity of a lifetime.

Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira, an island far off the coast of Portugal with approximately 270,000 inhabitants. Ronaldo grew up in a poor neighborhood, where he, like many other children practiced their soccer skills every day to try to accomplish a seemingly impossible dream. Ronaldo had a noticeable passion for the game early on, and would often turn objects such as bottles and a makeshift ball out of dishrags into soccer balls for him to practice with. His passion and talent caught the eye of local scouts, and soon enough he ended up having the opportunity to join Sporting CP, a prominent Portuguese club. Young players with immense skills are sent to youth academies for several years of training before they make the first team.Sporting was and still is based on the mainland of Portugal in the capital of Lisbon. In order to continue his dream, he would have to leave home without his friends or family by his side. 

A transition as big as this would be tough for any young boy. Ronaldo often called home crying due to homesickness. Off the training ground, he was struggling to find his place in the world, he was missing his family during truly formative years. While there was strife, there was always a deep desire to succeed. “The word ‘defeat’ never entered his head, whether it was at training, exercising, or pulling a prank, he had to come out on top,” a former coach said. One of the factors that made Ronaldo stand out was his will to put in the extra work. When all of his teammates were resting from the grind of their daily routine, Ronaldo would re-enter the gym and continue to work. Staff members at Sporting CP had to turn off the lights and lock doors so that Ronaldo would be forced to go to bed.

In a preseason match, an 18-year-old Ronaldo played for the first team at Sporting CP and dazzled against Manchester United. Despite not scoring a goal, he was in spectacular form as he worked his way around the pitch with ease against one of the world’s best teams. Sir Alex Ferguson, the prolific manager of Manchester United, knew he had to have Ronaldo on his team, and promptly paid a respectable transfer fee to acquire the services of Ronaldo. His time at Manchester United was very fruitful. They won three consecutive Premier League titles and one Champions League title during his tenure at Old Trafford.

In 2009, Ronaldo fulfilled his prophecy to play for his dream club, legendary Spanish team Real Madrid. His transfer sum was set at 80,000,000 British Pounds Sterling, which at the time was worth slightly north of $140,000,000. He has enjoyed continued success, winning the three major trophies available in La Liga. This past season, Real Madrid won their second Champions League title in three years. The final match went to penalty kicks to determine the winner, and it was Ronaldo who finished the match with the winning goal.

Ronaldo’s desire to win comes off as too strong for some. Fans have balked at Ronaldo for his perceived arrogance on the pitch throughout his career, but many feel that it’s his strong will that has made him achieve so much. “In my opinion, he was born with 20 to 30 percent natural ability, and the rest came from the sacrifices he made, the hard work and dedication,” another coach said. Ronaldo is the first player to score 30 goals or more in 6+ seasons, he has more goals than anyone in Champion’s League history, and he is the youngest player to reach 250 career goals. After you look at the expansive list of records Ronaldo has accomplished, you could see that there was one feat that had yet to be accomplished. Ronaldo's home country of Portugal had never won a major tournament while he was on the squad.

At the UEFA 2016 tournament this past weekend, Portugal made it to the final against the favored French team, who were also the host country for the tournament. Portugal triumphed 1-0, giving Portugal their first major team victory since Ronaldo has been on the team. The captain was an integral part of their success, constantly creating opportunities and scoring the second most goals in the tournament with 3. Even after he added another jewel to his crown, Ronaldo will continue to relentlessly work at becoming an even better player. There's always another trophy to be won, another record to be broken, and a legacy to expand.  

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