Cristiano Ronaldo is a record breaking goalscoring machine at one of the greatest clubs in the history of world football. That much is beyond debate.
Due to this, the Portuguese winger will always be in the media spotlight, and quite often they will focus on his negative personality traits, some of which cannot be denied. He is egotistical, almost to the point of narcissism, with individual praise and awards seeming to matter as much as team glory to CR7. He can come across as behaving like a spoilt child when things don’t go his way. Although these accusations cannot be easily shrugged off, there is a lack of focus on Ronaldo’s more admirable personal qualities away from the football pitch.
Despite his obvious talent from a young age, Ronaldo had to show tenacity to make it to the top of the world game. He moved from Madeira to the Portuguese mainland to join Sporting Lisbon aged 12, and was teased by other players in the academy due to his accent. He also suffered bouts of homesickness, which he overcame through his determination to succeed in the game. Aged 15, while still at Sporting, he had to have an operation to overcome a heart problem.
When he arrived at Manchester United in 2003, he was still a skinny 18 year old that was more style than substance, and Premier League defenders tried to bully the youngster, not appreciating the wingers numerous superfluous stepovers. This attitude was shared by some of his teammates at the time; despite this, Ronaldo is regarded as one of the greatest players to grace the hallowed turf at Old Trafford. He then earned his move to the Santiago Bernabeu, where the records have tumbled.
This shows Ronaldo’s mental fortitude and desire to succeed, but there is also a more human side to the superstar.
Ronaldo, who grew up in a poor area of Funchal, is heavily involved in charity work, helping many various causes. He visited Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami to raise funds for rebuilding work and rehabilitation after an eight year old boy, who was wearing at Portugal number seven jersey when the disaster struck, survived alone for 19 days after the tragedy claimed the lives of his mother and brothers.
In 2008, after winning damages for Libel from a British newspaper, Ronaldo donated the entire amount to a charity in Madeira. The following year, he donated £100,000 to a hospital that had treated his mother so they could build cancer centre on the island. In 2010, he participated in a charity match to raise money for those affected by flash floods and landslides on his native island.
He has taken part in FIFA’s ‘11 for Health’ and ‘11 against Ebola’ campaigns, and is an ambassador for both Save the Children and the Mangrove Care Forum, a conservation project in Indonesia.
Perhaps his most unlikely piece of charity to his detractors, but arguably the most selfless, was selling his European Golden Shoe, won in 2011, for €1.5 million, then giving the proceeds to Gaza in order to build schools for children.
As well as being charitable, Ronaldo has also shown his softer personal side on multiple occasions. In 2011, he sought out a fan who had bit hit by a clearance made by the Madeiran, which bloodied his nose, and gave him his shirt. Earlier that year he had broken a young Bournemouth fan’s wrist with a misdirected free kick, but tracked down the boy and sent him a signed Real Madrid jersey. In April this year, he also hit a young boy with a wayward shot in the warm up, and before returning to the dressing room, gave the crying fan his training top. These instances are not a big deal for the multi-millionaire, but give the fans souvenirs that they will treasure forever.
Only last week, while signing autographs in Bilbao airport, Ronaldo again showed his sensitivity while signing a shirt for another young fan. The boy was overcome with emotion upon meeting his idol, and was reduced to tears. Ronaldo comforted the youngster, giving him a hug while the boy regained his composure, then proceeded to sign autographs for the rest of his fans.
Cristiano Ronaldo, a class act.