2012 was yet another glorious year for the irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo. With Portugal, he scored twice against the Netherlands and another against the Czech Republic to propel his side to the semi-finals of EURO 2012, while with Real Madrid, he won La Liga – scoring 46 goals along the way – and played a key role in their run to the Champions League semi-finals, where he scored twice in the second leg against Bayern Munich. Winner of the Ballon d’Or in 2008, he has again started this season as he means to go on, scoring the winner against Manchester City in the Champions League before claiming a hat-trick against Ajax. In domestic action, he also scored twice against Barcelona to become the first man to score at least one goal in six consecutive clásicos.
There is something almost balletic about Ronaldo’s play that transforms mere possession of the ball into a footballing pas-de-deux. Much as he is restless whilst others enjoy the limelight, the graceful Ronaldo comes to life with the ball at his feet, pirouetting away from opposing defenders with poise, and gliding across the stage with an uncommon elegance.
From his early days with local club Andorinha, where his father was kit man, it was clear that the young Cristiano was destined for greatness. After a short stint with Nacional, he left Madeira to follow his dream and, as it has turned out, to become one of the greatest players in the world.
Sporting’s fans were the first to bear witness to the young genius. He made his first team debut at the age of 17, scoring twice in the process. As it turned out, he would only wear the famous green-and-white hoops for one complete season; at the start of 2003/04, English giants Manchester United came to the Portuguese capital to play Sporting in a friendly to mark the opening of the new Jose Alvalade Stadium. It was love at first sight and Sir Alex Ferguson swooped to bring the youngster to Old Trafford.
With the world at his feet, Cristiano Ronaldo blazed a trail through English football on his way to becoming a global superstar. Adulation and awards followed in equal measure: he was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2008, and he managed to fill the Santiago Bernabeu single-handedly as Real Madrid’s fans turned out in force to welcome their latest acquisition in 2009.
Ronaldo has never been deterred by seemingly impossible objectives and long-standing records. Take Ferenc Puskas’s single-season haul of 47 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid in 1959/60, for example. The Portuguese smashed that club record in 2010/11, hitting the back of the net approximately every 70 minutes to chalk up 53 goals in all, 40 of them in the league, at the point another all-time high.
Despite amassing a host of team and personal accolades, among them the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2008, and the Puskas Award the following year, the Portugal and Real Madrid star shows no signs of letting up in his continuing quest for excellence.
|FIFA World Cup™ Final||2006, 2010||10||4||3||3||2||0||2||0||0|
|Olympic Football Tournament Final||2004||2||1||0||1||1||0||2||0||0|
|FIFA Club World Cup||2008||2||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|FIFA World Cup™ Qualifier||2006, 2010, 2014||23||14||8||1||8||0||2||0||0|
|2010||Cape Town||29/06/2010||ESP||1:0 (0:0)||POR||Round of 16|
|2010||Cape Town||21/06/2010||POR||7:0 (1:0)||PRK||First stage|
|2010||Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth||15/06/2010||CIV||0:0||POR||First stage|
|2006||Stuttgart||08/07/2006||GER||3:1 (0:0)||POR||Third place|
|2006||Gelsenkirchen||01/07/2006||ENG||0:0 a.e.t. 1:3 PSO||POR||Quarter-finals|
|2006||Nuremberg||25/06/2006||POR||1:0 (1:0)||NED||Round of 16|
|2006||Frankfurt/Main||17/06/2006||POR||2:0 (0:0)||IRN||Group matches|
|2006||Cologne||11/06/2006||ANG||0:1 (0:1)||POR||Group matches|
|2004||Heraklion||15/08/2004||MAR||1:2 (0:1)||POR||First stage|
|2004||Patras||12/08/2004||IRQ||4:2 (2:2)||POR||First stage|
|2010||Lisbon||10/10/2009||POR||3:0 (1:0)||HUN||First stage|
|2010||Budapest||09/09/2009||HUN||0:1 (0:1)||POR||First stage|
|2010||Copenhagen||05/09/2009||DEN||1:1 (1:0)||POR||First stage|
|2010||Tirana||06/06/2009||ALB||1:2 (1:1)||POR||First stage|
|2006||Porto||12/10/2005||POR||3:0 (2:0)||LVA||First stage|
|2006||Aveiro||08/10/2005||POR||2:1 (0:1)||LIE||First stage|
|2006||Faro||03/09/2005||POR||6:0 (3:0)||LUX||First stage|
|2006||Tallinn||08/06/2005||EST||0:1 (0:1)||POR||First stage|
|2006||Lisbon||04/06/2005||POR||2:0 (2:0)||SVK||First stage|
|2006||Bratislava||30/03/2005||SVK||1:1 (1:0)||POR||First stage|
|2006||Luxembourg||17/11/2004||LUX||0:5 (0:2)||POR||First stage|
|2006||Lisbon||13/10/2004||POR||7:1 (3:0)||RUS||First stage|
|2006||Vaduz||09/10/2004||LIE||2:2 (0:2)||POR||First stage|
|2006||Leiria||08/09/2004||POR||4:0 (0:0)||EST||First stage|
|2006||Riga||04/09/2004||LVA||0:2 (0:0)||POR||First stage|