If anyone embodies the new age player, it is Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro.
Possessing strength, pace, skill and professionalism in abundance, Ronaldo’s many attributes leave him well equipped for the modern game.
In an age where players have never been fitter or stronger, Ronaldo has ensured that his outrageous natural talent is complimented by a bulging physique that makes him a tough proposition for any defense.
His US$131 million move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 made him the most expensive player in the world and at the Bernabeu he has thrilled the masses with high caliber performances and plenty of goals.
- Name: Cristiano Ronaldo
- Nationality: Portuguese
- Date and Place of Birth: February 5, 1985 in Funchal, Portugal
- Position: Winger/Striker
- Current Club: Real Madrid (La Liga)
- Previous Clubs: Sporting Lisbon (2001-2003), Manchester United (2003-2009)
- International Career: 2003 to present
Sporting Lisbon signed a 10-year-old Ronaldo after a three-day trial and he ultimately became the first player to turn out for the club with the Under-16, Under-17, Under-18, B-team, and first team in a single season.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson swooped to sign him as an 18-year-old after a devastating performance in a friendly against his side in 2003.
Rise to Prominence:
Ferguson eased Ronaldo in gently, but from his early cameo performances, it was obvious the Scot had signed a player of immense natural ability.
Wearing the famous number seven shirt previously assigned to the likes of George Best and Eric Cantona, Ronaldo’s first season garnered 10 goals.
By the end of the 2006-07 season the Portuguese star had registered 23 goals in 53 appearances for United and played a major role in the club winning their first title for four seasons.
The World's Best:
The following campaign was to prove his best in a Red Devils shirt. Ronaldo scored a stunning total of 42 goals in 49 games as United won the Premier League and Champions League. He dovetailed beautifully with Wayne Rooney, while Carlos Tevez helped make the team’s attack one of the most prolific in the world game that season.
But rumors had already started circulating about a move to Real Madrid. Manchester United stood firm that summer, retaining Ronaldo for one last season and at the turn of the year he won the FIFA World Player of the Year award for the first time.
Twenty-six goals in all competition helped United to another Premier League title and an appearance in the Champions League final where the English club were beaten 2-0 by Barcelona.
But it was no secret that Ronaldo was looking for pastures new and on June 26, 2009 Real Madrid confirmed that he would be joining them in a world record deal.
The Latest Galactico:
Florentino Perez was the man who brought Ronaldo to the Bernabeu as he begun a second spell as president. His Galacticos policy is world famous, and Ronaldo certainly fitted the mold, following in the footsteps of Luis Figo, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane.
Ronaldo was presented to 80,000 fans at the Bernabeu, as club legend Alfredo Di Stefano handed him the famous number nine shirt.
A devastating haul of 33 goals in 35 appearances – despite missing a month and a half through injury - rendered his first season in Spain a huge personal success, although no trophies were forthcoming as Barcelona continued their domestic dominance and Real again bowed out in the Champions League second round.
Under fellow countryman Jose Mourinho, Ronaldo helped Real to the Copa del Rey in the 2010-11 season, scoring the winning goal against Barcelona in the final.
He also beat the all-time record for goals in a single season in La Liga, turning on the afterburners (11 in the final four games) in the final weeks to take his tally to 40 for the season.
Another Personal Best:
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi would exceed that tally the following season, but 2011/12 was also to be Ronaldo’s best to date. He netted 46 in the league and a sublime 63 in all competition as Real reclaimed the Liga title from Barcelona.
His goal against Barca in a 2-1 Liga win at Camp Nou all but ensured Real Madrid’s first title since 2008. Indeed, 2011/12 was the season Ronaldo started to match his performance in El Clasico with those against the league’s lesser lights.
He was first called up to the senior Portugal squad in August 2003 and made the final cut for Euro 2004, where he scored two goals. But on home turf Portugal lost to Greece in the final.
Seven goals helped his country qualify for the 2006 World Cup, but at the big event in Germany he could only muster a penalty against Iran as Portugal lost to France in the semi-finals.
Ronaldo again flourished in qualifying for Euro 2008 but was disappointing when the big event came around as Portugal went out in the quarter finals.
Despite a scintillating first season in a Real shirt, Ronaldo again looked bereft at his next major tournament – the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He netted in the 7-0 rout of North Korea but like many of the tournament’s other major stars, failed to deliver, and did little as Portugal bowed out to eventual winners Spain in the second round.