We’ve rounded up some lesser-known facts about the football superstar
WITH 18 trophies, three Ballon d’Ors and a net fortune of around £225 million, Cristiano Ronaldo is a winner in every sense of the word.
He’s also famously private – leading to a constant stream of rumours and speculation surrounding the superstar, with many branding him as arrogant and self-absorbed. But we’ve rounded up some facts you probably didn’t know about the Euro 2016 champion – some of which might just change your mind about him.
His mum wasn’t sure if she wanted him
Ronaldo is the youngest of four children – and his mum, Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro admitted in his documentary film, “Ronaldo”, that she considered having a termination when she found out she was pregnant.
In the film, she explains: “He is a child that I wanted to abort. God didn’t want that to happen and I was blessed because of that and God didn’t punish me.
“Sometimes Ronaldo makes fun of me and says ‘You didn’t want me to be born. But now you see that I’m here helping all of you.’ And, well, sometimes we have a laugh about that.”
He suffered from a heart condition
Ronaldo underwent surgery on his heart when he was just 15 years old – as he suffered from tachycardia which caused his heartbeat to race even when he wasn’t running around on the pitch.
We saw during the Euro 2016 final that Ronaldo isn’t one to give up in the face of adversity, so it’s not surprising that he didn’t allow the condition to affect his sporting career – in fact, he was back in training just days after the operation.
He’s named after a US president
Despite his full name being Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, he’s most commonly known as Ronaldo. But while his name is one of the most famous on the planet, it’s less well-known that the reason he’s called Ronaldo in the first place is because his dad, Jose Dinis Aveiro, was a huge fan of the American president and actor, Ronald Reagan.
He doesn’t have tattoos… because he regularly donates blood
Many of his fellow footballers are covered from head to toe in elaborate body art – but there’s a very specific reason why Ronaldo’s skin remains tattoo-free. The 31-year-old is a regular blood donor – and in 2015, launched an online campaign to encourage his fans to do the same.
At the time, he said: “We can all make a difference by donating blood. Each donation can benefit up to three people in emergency situations and for long-term medical treatment.”
He doesn’t drink
It’s probably not surprising to learn that one of the world’s greatest athletes avoids alcohol – but Ronaldo’s also has some very personal reasons behind his decision to remain teetotal. When he was just 20 years old, his father, passed away as a result of his alcoholism. Reflecting on his dad, Ronaldo said: “My father was funny when he was drunk, but I didn’t get to know him for real, from the heart and I don’t know why he drank, maybe he was frustrated with his life.
“I wanted a different father, one who would be more present to see my achievements.”
His dad was the kit man at his first team
Ronaldo came from humble beginnings in Funchal, the capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira, where his mother was a cook, and his father a gardener. When a seven-year-old Ronaldo started playing for the youth team of Andorinha, based in the Funchal suburb of Santo Antonio, his teammates mocked him as his dad worked as the team’s kit man – tidying up the changing rooms for a bit of extra cash. But despite the taunts, Ronaldo didn’t give in – in fact, he just trained even harder.
He was given some less-than-flattering nicknames at school
As a child, his peers nicknamed him “cry-baby” – an insult, incidentally, which is often still thrown at him today – as he would become so frustrated when he passed to teammates, only for them to fail to hit the back of the net. His mum says he also earned the nickname ‘little bee’ – as he was so fast, nobody could ever catch him.
He was eventually expelled from school
He’s got a reputation for being extremely emotionally charged on the pitch – but as a teenager, a 14-year-old Ronaldo was kicked out of school after he threw a chair at a teacher, allegedly because the teacher mocked his family for being poor.
His mum made the decision not to send her son back to school, and instead encouraged to keep playing football – clearly, a gamble which paid off.
He was rejected… by Liverpool
Former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier admitted in 2010 that he turned down the opportunity to sign promising youngster Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon in 2003. As a result, Ronaldo headed to Manchester United instead – where he forged a famous father-and-son relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson… and won an FA Cup, three Premier League titles, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.
He’s kinder than you might think
Plenty of celebrities don’t bother showing an interest in their fans – but role-model Ronaldo proved he can put his own ego to one side when he stuck up for a young fan during a visit to Japan. The young boy had been chosen to ask Ronaldo a question – and did so in Portuguese in an attempt to impress his idol. When the onlooking media laughed at the boy’s faltering accent, Ronaldo was quick to put them in their place – calling them out on their unkindness, and putting a smile back on the little boy’s face.
He regularly uses his wealth to help others
Most recently, he donated all £506,000 of his Champions League win bonus to the United Nations. But that’s not the first time Ronaldo has shown his charitable side – he donated £5million to victims of the Nepal earthquake in 2015 and paid for the education of a young Indonesian tsunami survivor named Martunis (who now plays for Ronaldo’s old club, Sporting Lisbon). Generously, he also covered the cost of 10-month-old Erik Ortiz Cruz’s brain surgery after his mum asked for a signed shirt to sell, and raised £1.5 million to fund rebuilding schools in Gaza. Obviously, this sort of money may be a drop in the ocean for someone as rich as Ronaldo – but you can’t say he doesn’t do his bit to help those less fortunate.
He’s scored in every minute of a game
In 2014, Ronaldo became the first ever player to score in every minute of a football game – scoring the most goals in the 45th and 90th minutes. There’s fierce debate over whether he or Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is the best player in the world – but this is one challenge Messi hasn’t yet managed to conquer.