The Little Bee

Full Name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
Birthdate: 5 February 1985 (age 33)
Place of Birth: Portugal
Playing Years: 1992-present
Position(s): Forward
Football Club (Current): Juventus
FIFA Ballon d’Or/Ballon d’Or: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
FIFA World Player of the Year: 2008
UEFA Best Player in Europe Award: 2014, 2016, 2017
UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2007–08
World Soccer Player of the Year: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
European Golden Shoe: 2007–08, 2010–11, 2013–14, 2014–15

Formative years
As many of his fans already knew, Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro is of a simple and humble background. Born and raised in the Atlantic Portuguese island of Madeira, he is the fourth and youngest among his siblings. His mother, Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro, is a cook, while his father, José Dinis Aveiro was a municipal gardener and a part-time equipment manager. His second name “Ronaldo” was chosen for him after the then-U.S. leader Ronald Reagan.

Ronaldo started his youth career in CF Andorinha, an amateur club in his hometown Funchal where his father worked as equipment manager. He gained the moniker “abelhinha” (“little bee”) for his small stature and speed in game. He played for Andorinha from 1992 to 1995, and later for Nacional from 1995 to 1997. After undergoing a three-day trial with Sporting CP when he was 12, the club signed him up for a fee of £1,500. Little did Ronaldo had ever knew that he would lose this moniker as “little bee” later in his life.

When Ronaldo was 14, he agreed with his mother to ceased his education and pursue football as he believed he could play semi-professionally. However, after a year, he was diagnosed with a racing heart, a condition that threatened his career. A few days later after undergoing a surgery to treat his condition, Ronaldo resumed training with his team.

Sporting CP
While still in Sporting CP, Ronaldo made his debut on the 7th of October 2002 in the Primeira Liga against Moreirense, and scored two goals in their 3-0 win, sparking the interest of managers from various teams.

In August 2003, Sporting CP won a 3-1 against Manchester United during the inauguration of Estádio José Alvalade, prompting the then Man United manager Alex Ferguson to make a move to acquire Ronaldo. United had initially signed Ronaldo to loan him back to Sporting after a year. However, after impressing Man United players during his stay, Ronaldo was finally set to transfer to the team with a £12.24 million fee paid to Sporting, making him the most expensive teenage player in England’s football history.

Manchester United
Although he requested the number 28 for his shirt, he received the number 7, formerly worn by David Beckham.

On the 16th of August 2003, Ronaldo made his debut as substitute for Nicky Butt in Man United during the Premier League. After Man United’s 4-0 victory against Bolton Wanderers, Ronaldo earned praised from various critics, including George Best, who hailed it as “the most exciting debut” he had ever seen.

It is no doubt that Ronaldo’s time in Manchester United was the catalyst of his career’s unstoppable boom. Kicking 84 league goals throughout his time with United, Ronaldo also won his first trophy, the FA Cup, and first Ballon d’Or (2008) with them. Ronaldo also helped United win three consecutive Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League title, and a FIFA World Cup.

In 2008, rumours have circulated about Ronaldo’s interest in moving to Real Madrid. Wanting to keep the player to the team for a longer time, Man United issued a tampering complaint with FIFA to keep Madrid from pursuing Ronaldo. FIFA, however, declined to take action, dismissing United’s action as “modern slavery.”

In 2009, Ronaldo left Manchester United for Real Madrid with a transfer worth a record-breaking £80 million.

Real Madrid
In July 2009, Ronaldo was presented as Real Madrid’s newest player in the Santiago Bernabéu stadium and welcomed by a record-breaking 80,000 fans in spectation.

Ronaldo, received the number 9 shirt, instead of the 7 he used to wear in Man United, as the latter was already worn by the then-captain of the club Raúl González Blanco. His shirt was presented to him by former Madrid player Alfredo Di Stéfano. Ronaldo, however, was to receive the number 7 shirt after Raúl’s departure from the team in August 2010.

On August 2009, Ronaldo made his debut in La Liga with a 3-2 home win for Madrid over Deportivo La Coruña.

In 2013, Ronaldo, for the first time, captained Real Madrid for an official match against Real Sociedad. He eventually became the first non-Spanish player to captain the team in El Clásico on the same year.

Ronaldo’s stay in Real Madrid had sparked an eventual clash with FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, prompting more tension and energy in El Clásico. It was also during his time in Madrid had critics started to compare him to Messi.

Later in Ronaldo’s time with the team, Real Madrid’s failure to attain any major silverware and reports of tension between the team’s players sparked speculations of his eventual departure from the team. It was also this time, in October 2013, that he told Manchester United that he is considering a return.

Moreover, it was during his time with Madrid that he won his second (2013), third (2014), fourth (2016), and fifth (2017) Ballon d’Or.

In 2018, Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus with a £105 million transfer fee, the highest fee ever paid for a player over 30 years old, and the highest fee ever paid by an Italian club. One of the factors considered by critics to have largely affected Ronaldo’s departure from Madrid is quite personal in nature: Ronaldo felt being taken for granted by Madrid.

Since his official debut in the Italian team, he remains a large factor in keeping the team on top of league tables of the 2018 Serie A.

Before Juventus’s latest game with United in the Old Trafford, Ronaldo made a few nostalgic remarks in an interview, recalling his time playing in the field with his old team. He admits to be emotional for seeing United again, expressing another interest in playing with the English club once more.

The Phenomenon of Cristiano Ronaldo
From the abelhinha (little bee) to one of the world’s largest hornets in football’s history, Cristiano Ronaldo’s life continues to fascinate us more and more. Now regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, somewhere between a boy’s humble life in a little Portuguese island off the coast of Portugal and a man’s ever blooming greatness and fame is an immortal aphorism that shall inspire generations of footballers to come.

By @EliaasMJ

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