Cristiano Ronaldo is a professional soccer player who has set records while playing for the Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus clubs, as well as the Portuguese national team.

In the 2004 FA Cup final, Ronaldo scored Manchester’s first three goals and helped them capture the championship. He set a franchise record for goals scored in 2008, before Real Madrid paid a record $131 million for his services the following year. 

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro is a Portuguese soccer superstar. By 2003 — when he was just 16 years old — Manchester United paid £12 million (over $14 million U.S. dollars) to sign him, a record fee for a player of his age. 

Among his many accomplishments, he has won a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards for player of the year, and led Portugal to an emotional victory in the 2016 European Championship. In July 2018, Ronaldo embarked on a new phase of his career by signing with Italian Serie A club Juventus.

Cristiano Ronaldo at a Real Madrid game.

Early life

Ronaldo was born on February 5, 1985, in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, a small

Ronaldo was born on February 5, 1985, in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, a small island off the western coast of the country. Ronaldo is the youngest of four children born to Maria Dolores dos Santos and José Dinis Aveiro. He was named after Ronald Reagan, one of his father’s favorite actors.

Ronaldo grew up in a largely working class neighborhood in a small tin-roofed home that overlooked the ocean. Ronaldo was introduced to the game of soccer through his dad, who worked as an equipment manager at a boy’s club.

His early life was shaped by hardship, as his father often drank too much. To help keep the children fed and maintain some financial stability, Ronaldo’s mother worked as a cook and cleaning person.

In 2005, when Ronaldo was playing for Manchester United, his father died from alcohol-related kidney problems; in 2007, his mother struggled with breast cancer. The former was especially hard for Ronaldo since he and his dad had been close.

The young athlete had often pushed for his father to enter rehab and address his drinking. His father, however, never accepted the offer.

By the time he was 10 years old, Ronaldo was already recognized as a phenomenon — a kid who ate, slept and drank soccer. “All he wanted to do as a boy was play football,” his godfather, Fernao Sousa, recalled for British reporters, adding, “He loved the game so much he’d miss meals or escape out of his bedroom window with a ball when he was supposed to be doing

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Teams

Manchester United

In 2001, when Ronaldo was just 16 years old, Manchester United paid more than £12 million to sign him — a record fee for a player of his age.

Ronaldo had turned heads with a mesmerizing performance with Portugal against Manchester, wowing even his opponents with his footwork and deft skill. He made such an impression that a number of United players asked their manager to try and sign the young player, which the team soon did.

Ronaldo did not disappoint the soccer world: He showed his promise early on in the 2004 FA Cup final, scoring the team’s first three goals and helping them capture the championship. In 2007, Ronaldo signed a five-year, £31 million contract.

A year later, Ronaldo again justified his high salary when he put together one of the club’s finest seasons in history, setting a franchise record for goals scored (42), and earning himself the FIFA World Player of the Year honor for 2008. In all, Ronaldo helped steer Manchester United to three premier league titles.

Ronaldo became Manchester United’s first-ever Portuguese player when he signed before the 2003–04 season. His transfer fee of £12.24 million made him, at the time, the most expensive teenager in English football history. Although he requested the number 28, his number at Sporting, he received the number 7 shirt, which had previously been worn by such United players as George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham. Wearing the number 7 became an extra source of motivation for Ronaldo. A key element in his development during his time in England proved to be his manager, Alex Ferguson, of whom he later said, “He’s been my father in sport, one of the most important and influential factors in my career.””There have been a few players described as ‘the new George Best’ over the years, but this is the first time it’s been a compliment to me.”—Former Manchester United player George Best on the 18-year-old Ronaldo in 2003

Ronaldo made his debut in the Premier League in a 4–0 home victory over Bolton Wanderers on 16 August 2003, receiving a standing ovation when he came on as a 60th-minute substitute for Nicky Butt. His performance earned praise from George Best, who hailed it as “undoubtedly the most exciting debut” he had ever seen. Ronaldo scored his first goal for Manchester United with a free-kick in a 3–0 win over Portsmouth on 1 November. Three other league goals followed in the second half of the campaign, the last of which came against Aston Villa on the final day of the season, a match in which he also received his first red card. Ronaldo ended his first season in English football by scoring the opening goal in United’s 3–0 victory over Millwall in the FA Cup final, earning his first trophy.