Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo with Real Madrid in 2015
Personal information
Full name Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
Date of birth (1985-02-05) 5 February 1985 [1]
Place of birth Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)[2]
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current team
Real Madrid
Number 7
Youth career
1992–1995 Andorinha
1995–1997 Nacional
1997–2002 Sporting CP
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2003 Sporting CP 25 (3)
2003–2009 Manchester United 196 (84)
2009– Real Madrid 210 (233)
National team
2001 Portugal U15 9 (7)
2001–2002 Portugal U17 7 (5)
2003 Portugal U20 5 (1)
2002–2003 Portugal U21 10 (3)
2004 Portugal U23 3 (2)
2003– Portugal 123 (55)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:55, 31 October 2015 (UTC).
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 8 October 2015[3]

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro GOIH (born 5 February 1985), known as Cristiano Ronaldo (Portuguese pronunciation: ), is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Portugal national team. He is a forward and serves as captain for Portugal. By the age of 22, Ronaldo had received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations. The following year, in 2008, he won his first Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards. He followed this up by winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2013 and 2014. In September 2015, Ronaldo scored his 500th senior career goal for club and country.[4]

Often ranked as the best player in the world[5] and rated by some in the sport as the greatest of all time,[6][7][8][9] Ronaldo is the first Portuguese footballer to win three FIFA/Ballons d'Or, and the first player to win four European Golden Shoe awards. In January 2015, Ronaldo was named the best Portuguese player of all time by the Portuguese Football Federation, during its 100th anniversary celebrations.[10][11] With Manchester United and Real Madrid, he has won three Premier Leagues, one La Liga, one FA Cup, two Football League Cups, two Copas del Rey, one FA Community Shield, one Supercopas de España, two UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup and two FIFA Club World Cups.

Ronaldo began his career as a youth player for Andorinha, where he played for two years, before moving to C.D. Nacional. In 1997, he moved to Sporting CP. In 2003 he signed for Manchester United for £12.2 million (€15 million). In 2004, he won his first trophy, the FA Cup. In 2007 and 2008, Ronaldo was named FWA Footballer of the Year, and was named the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year. In 2009 he won the FIFA Puskás Award for Goal of the Year. He became the world's most expensive player when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 in a transfer worth £80 million (€94 million/$132 million). His buyout clause is valued at €1 billion.[12] In May 2012, he became the first footballer to score against every team in a single season in La Liga.[13] Ronaldo holds the record for most goals scored in a single UEFA Champions League season, having scored 17 goals in the 2013–14 season.[14] In December 2014, Ronaldo became the fastest player to score 200 goals in La Liga, which he accomplished in his 178th La Liga game.[15] He is the only player in the history of football to score 50 or more goals in a season on five consecutive occasions.[16] In September 2015, Ronaldo became the all-time top goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League with 82 goals, and in October 2015 he became Real Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer.

Ronaldo made his international debut for Portugal in August 2003, at the age of 18. He has since been capped over 100 times and has participated in 6 major tournaments: three UEFA European Championships (2004, 2008 and 2012) and three FIFA World Cups (2006, 2010 and 2014). Ronaldo is the first Portuguese player to reach 50 international goals, making him Portugal's all-time top goalscorer as well as the country's top scorer in the European Championship with 6 goals. He scored his first international goal in the opening game of Euro 2004 against Greece, and helped Portugal reach the final. He took over captaincy in July 2008, and he led Portugal to the semi-finals at Euro 2012, finishing the competition as joint-top scorer in the process. In November 2014, Ronaldo became the all-time top scorer in the UEFA European Championship (including qualifying) with 23 goals.


  • Early life 1
  • Club career 2
    • Sporting CP 2.1
    • Manchester United 2.2
      • 2003–04 2.2.1
      • 2004–06 2.2.2
      • 2006–07 2.2.3
      • 2007–08 2.2.4
      • 2008–09 2.2.5
    • Real Madrid 2.3
      • 2009–10 2.3.1
      • 2010–11 2.3.2
      • 2011–12 2.3.3
      • 2012–13 2.3.4
      • 2013–14 2.3.5
      • 2014–15 2.3.6
      • 2015–16 2.3.7
  • International career 3
    • 2004-05: Early success 3.1
    • 2006-07: World Cup and first captaincy stint 3.2
    • 2008–10: Permanent captaincy 3.3
    • 2011–13: Individual and Euro success 3.4
    • 2014: World Cup and Portugal's record goalscorer 3.5
    • 2015: Euro 2016 qualification 3.6
  • Player profile 4
    • Style of play 4.1
    • Reception 4.2
    • Comparisons to Lionel Messi 4.3
  • Outside football 5
    • Personal life 5.1
    • Philanthropy 5.2
    • Wealth 5.3
    • Endorsements 5.4
    • Fashion 5.5
    • Media 5.6
    • CR7 galaxy 5.7
  • Career statistics 6
    • Club 6.1
    • International 6.2
  • Honours 7
    • Club 7.1
    • Individual 7.2
      • Orders 7.2.1
    • Records 7.3
      • World 7.3.1
      • Europe 7.3.2
      • Spain 7.3.3
      • Real Madrid 7.3.4
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Ronaldo was born in Santo António, a neighbourhood of Funchal, Madeira, the youngest child of Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro, a cook, and José Dinis Aveiro, a municipal gardener.[17] His second given name, "Ronaldo", was chosen after then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan, who was his father's favourite actor.[18][19] He has one older brother, Hugo, and two older sisters, Elma and Liliana Cátia.[1] His great-grandmother Isabel da Piedade was from Cape Verde.[20]

The family was staunchly Catholic. Ronaldo later claimed that he lived in poverty, sharing a room with his brother and sisters.[21] Ronaldo was popular with other students at school, but he was expelled after he threw a chair at his teacher. Ronaldo later said of the incident, "He disrespected me".[22] At age 14, Ronaldo agreed with his mother to focus entirely on football. He states, "When I got to 14 I felt I had the potential. I thought I was maybe good enough at that time to play semi-professionally".[22] Ronaldo had started playing for amateur team Andorinha at age 8, where his father was the kit man.[23] In 1995, Ronaldo, aged 10, signed with local club Nacional, and, after a title-winning campaign, he went on a three-day trial with Sporting CP, who subsequently signed him for an undisclosed sum.[24]

Club career

Sporting CP

Ronaldo memorabilia at Sporting CP's museum.

Ronaldo joined Sporting's other youth players who trained at the Academia Sporting, the club's football academy, in Alcochete. He became the only player ever to play for Sporting's under-16, under-17, under-18, B-team, and the first team, all within one season.[25] He scored two goals in his league debut on 7 October 2002, which Sporting CP won 3–0 against Moreirense, while featuring for Portugal in the 2002 European Under-17 Championship.[26]

At the age of 15, Ronaldo was diagnosed with a racing heart, a condition that might have forced him to give up playing football. The Sporting staff were made aware of the condition and Ronaldo's mother gave her authorisation for him to go into hospital.[27] While there, he had an operation in which a laser was used to cauterise the area of his heart that was causing the problem. The surgery took place in the morning and Ronaldo was discharged from hospital by the end of the afternoon; he resumed training only a few days later.[28]

In November 2002, Ronaldo was invited to Arsenal's training ground, London Colney to meet manager Arsène Wenger and his coaching staff.[29] Wenger, who was interested in signing the midfielder, had arranged to meet Ronaldo's representatives, Formation (who suggested the player originally to Gérard Houllier, then Liverpool manager, and Joan Laporta, then Barcelona president) in the subsequent months to discuss a transfer arrangement.[30][31] Of a possible move to Liverpool, Ronaldo said "Liverpool are one of the best clubs in England and it would be a dream for any player to represent a club of such traditions".[32] However he came to the attention of Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson in the summer of 2003, when Sporting defeated United 3–1 in the inauguration of the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon. Ronaldo's performance impressed the Manchester United players, who urged Ferguson to sign him.[33] In April 2013, Sporting honoured Ronaldo by selecting him to become the 100,000th member of the club.[34]

Manchester United


"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 [35]

Ronaldo became Manchester United's first-ever Portuguese player when he signed for £12.24 million before the Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and David Beckham.[40] "After I joined, the manager asked me what number I'd like. I said 28. But Ferguson said 'No, you're going to have No. 7,' and the famous shirt was an extra source of motivation. I was forced to live up to such an honour".[40]

"I want to be one of the best players around in two or three years' time. I would be very proud if, one day, I'm held in the same esteem as George Best or David Beckham."

— Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004.[41]

Ronaldo made his team debut to a standing ovation as a 60th-minute substitute for [35] while former manager Ron Atkinson effused about his "pace and quick thinking" and how it meant United could "spring very quickly from defence into attack".[45]

He scored his first goal for Manchester United with a free kick in a 3–0 win over Portsmouth on 1 November 2003.[46] His only other league goals in the season all came in 2004; he scored the second in a 3–0 win against Tottenham Hotspur on 20 March,[47] the equalising goal in a 2–1 victory away to Birmingham City on 10 April,[48] and the opener in a 2–0 victory over Aston Villa on the final day of the season in a game in which he also received his first red card.[49] Ronaldo also scored in the fifth round of the 2003–04 FA Cup in a 4–2 Manchester derby against Manchester City.[50] Ronaldo ended his first season in English football by scoring the opening goal in United's 3–0 FA Cup Final victory over Millwall,[51] with his performance receiving praise from Gary Neville who said "I think Ronaldo can be one of the top footballers in the world".[52]


Ronaldo playing against Chelsea in April 2006

Ronaldo had to wait until December to score his first goal of the 2004-05 season, scoring the third in a 3–0 victory against Southampton.[53] His second came in a 3–1 win against Aston Villa,[54] with an assist for Paul Scholes prompting Ferguson to say that he "had his best game of the season and was a constant threat to Villa".[55] He put in a similarly praiseworthy performance after he scored two goals against rivals Arsenal in a 4–2 win,[56][57] with his finishing described as "expert" that had applied the "coup de grace" to Arsenal.[58] His final goal of the season came in a victory over Fulham, scoring the only goal of the game from 25 yards in a game in which Ferguson hailed him as "our best player".[59] Ronaldo scored four goals on United's run to the 2005 FA Cup Final, finding the net against Exeter City,[60] Everton,[61] Southampton,[62] and Newcastle United.[63] He played the full 120 minutes of the decisive match against Arsenal, and scored his attempt in the penalty shootout, which United lost after a goalless draw.[64]

Ronaldo scored United's 1000th Premier League goal on 29 October 2005 in a 4–1 loss to Middlesbrough,[65] In November, he signed a new contract which extended his previous deal by two years to 2010, and stated that staying at the club was "important for the development of my career".[66] He was sent off in the Manchester derby at the City of Manchester Stadium on 14 January 2006 (a game which United lost 3–1) for kicking City's former United player Andy Cole.[67] Ronaldo won his second trophy in English football in the 2005–06 season, scoring the third goal in Manchester United's 4–0 Football League Cup final victory over Wigan Athletic.[68] He scored three braces in the 2005–06 season, scoring two goals each against Bolton Wanderers,[69] Fulham,[70] and Portsmouth.[71]

In January 2006, Ronaldo was at the centre of a training ground bust-up with Ruud van Nistelrooy that eventually lead to the striker's departure from the club at the end of the season, with van Nistelrooy angry at Ronaldo's showboating style of play.[72] The two again clashed in May, with van Nistelrooy telling Ronaldo to go and "go crying to your daddy", a pithy reference to Ronaldo's relationship with assistant manager Carlos Queiroz, leading to a brief fight.[73] Van Nistelrooy was left on the subtitutes bench for the final game of the season against Charlton Athletic but left the stadium three hours before the game, a 4–0 win in which Ronaldo scored his ninth league goal of the season.[74][75]


Ronaldo with United during their 2006–07 season

After the 2006 FIFA World Cup, in which he was involved in an incident where club teammate Wayne Rooney was sent off,[76][77] Ronaldo was linked with moves away from United, with Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Valencia both linked with him.[78][79] The situation led to Ronaldo asking for a transfer, saying "I think I should get out of Manchester. The circumstances are not right to keep playing in Manchester. In two or three days I will decide where to go. I always said I wanted to play in Spain", and claimed that he received no support over the red card, saying "nobody stood up for me at Manchester, although I did not do anybody any harm. For some time, I haven't had any support from my chief executive or my coach. They should have come out in my defence but no-one did".[80][81] United were adamant that he would stay at the club, releasing a statement saying: "Cristiano recently signed a contract until 2010 and the club expects him to honour that contract. The club will not listen to any offers for Cristiano".[82][83] United manager Alex Ferguson said "without any question, Ronaldo will be our player next season",[84] and backed Ronaldo to silence any critics as David Beckham and Eric Cantona had done in the past.[85] Following the incident, Ronaldo and Rooney both immediately denied any rift.[86] Rooney said: "I bear no ill feeling to Cristiano" over the incident.[87]

Ahead of the 2006–07 season, Bobby Charlton warned Ronaldo that he would be booed by opposition fans,[88] but backed him to overcome any potential backlash,[89] as did Rooney.[90] In the first game of the season, Ronaldo scored on the opening day of the season in a 5–1 win against Fulham, where, as Charlton had predicted, he was booed by Fulham fans.[91] and his performance earned praise from Ferguson.[92] Ronaldo was booed throughout the season, and noticeably silenced Reading fans with the equalising goal in a 1–1 draw on 23 September.[93] United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar thought Ronaldo responded to being booed by letting it inspire him, saying that it "only serves to drive Cristiano onto even higher ground, to greater heights. Cristiano hasn't let what happened and the reaction affect him at all. He is a very strong guy and has shown that this season".[94]

"The amount of goals and the amount of assists he's had has been frightening. I haven't seen anybody take players on, score goals and make goals like he has in this first half of the season, so he rightfully deserves that tag [of being the world's best player]."

— Teammate Paul Scholes on Ronaldo's form in the 2006–07 season.[95]

The season proved to be the breakout year for Ronaldo, as he broke the 20 goal barrier for the first time and picked up his first league title with Manchester United. An important factor in this success was his one-to-one training by first team coach René Meulensteen. Meulensteen coached him in moves to make himself more unpredictable. He also helped him to work better with his team-mates, calling for the ball and scoring more 'ugly' goals instead of waiting for the special occasion when he could score the 'beautiful' goals for which he was already famous.[96] Ronaldo's upturn in form was showcased in a trip to Ewood Park in November when he received a standing ovation from a section Blackburn Rovers supporters as he was substituted.[97]

In November and December 2006, Ronaldo received consecutive Barclays Player of the Month honours, becoming only the third player in Premier League history to do so after Dennis Bergkamp in 1997 and Robbie Fowler in 1996.[98][99] His form was epitomised with three consecutive braces at the end of December, the first of which came in a 3–0 victory over Aston Villa on 23 December which put United top at Christmas.[100] He followed it up on Boxing Day with two goals against Wigan Athletic in a 3–1 victory where he came off the bench at half-time to score a four-minute double salvo, the second of which marked his 10th goal of the season, to put United four clear of Chelsea.[101] His third brace came on 30 December in a 3–2 victory against Reading.[102]

"He’s the one player I’d love to pay money to go and see play. I’m sure Ronaldo is already in the ‘best in the world’ bracket. He’s only 21 and he will get even better."

— Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.[95]

On 24 February 2007, he scored a "dramatic" late winner against Fulham which put United nine points clear at the top of the league table.[103] Ronaldo scored crucial goals against Middlesbrough in the [107] On 10 April, Ronaldo helped United reach the semi-final of the Champions League, scoring his first two Champions League goals in a 7–1 victory against Roma.[108][109] On 14 April, Ronaldo helped United reach the FA Cup Final, putting United 2–1 up against Watford in a match which ended 4–1.[110] On 24 April, he scored four minutes into United's Champions League semi-final against Milan as United won the first leg 3–2,[111] but was marked out of the second leg as United lost 3–0 in the San Siro.[112] On 5 May, he scored his 50th Manchester United goal against city rivals Manchester City in a 1–0 victory as United claimed their first Premier League title in four years.[113]

Despite rumours in March 2007 that Real Madrid were willing to pay an unprecedented €80 million (£54 million) for Ronaldo,[114] with Real president Ramón Calderón publicly saying that "we'll be first in the queue" had United opted to sell him,[115] he signed a five-year, £120,000-a-week (£31 million total) extension with United on 13 April.[116] Ronaldo and Ferguson both spoke of their delight at the new deal, with Ronaldo saying "I am very happy at the club", while Ferguson said that "it emphasises the point that Cristiano is happy here and that he is at the right club".[117]

Ronaldo amassed a host of personal awards for the season. He won the PFA Players' Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards, joining Andy Gray (in 1977) as the only players to receive this honour.[118] In April, he completed the treble by winning the PFA Fans' Player of the Year. He also won the FWA Footballer of the Year,[119] becoming the first player to win all four main PFA and FWA awards. Ronaldo was also one of eight Manchester United players named in the 2006–07 PFA Premier League Team of the Year.[120]

Ronaldo (left) and Carlos Tevez prior to a Champions League match


Ronaldo's 2007–08 season began with a red card for a headbutt on Portsmouth player Richard Hughes during United's second match of the season, for which he was punished with a three-match ban.[121] Ronaldo said he had "learned a lot" from the experience and would not let players "provoke" him in the future.[122]

His first goal of the season came in the first game of the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League group stage, scoring a 62nd-minute header on his return to former club Sporting in a 1–0 victory on 19 September.[123] He scored two goals against Dynamo Kyiv on 23 October in a 4—0 win,[124] and scored in the return fixture as United qualified for the knockout stage with a 4–0 win.[125] Ronaldo's fifth goal of the competition came in the final minute of the game of the return fixture against Sporting; with the score at 1–1, he scored a 30-yard free-kick that he described as "fabulous".[126]

Due to the three match suspension, his first league goal didn't come until 29 September, when he scored the only goal of the game in a victory against Birmingham City.[127] By Christmas, Ronaldo had 13 league goals, including doubles against Wigan Athletic in a 4–0 which put United top of the league,[128] Blackburn Rovers,[129] Fulham,[130] and Everton, with his second coming from the penalty spot in the 88th minute in a 2–1 victory.[131] He finished as the runner-up to Kaká for the 2007 Ballon d'Or,[132] and was third in the running for the FIFA World Player of the Year award, behind Kaká and Lionel Messi.[133]

"I don't think there is a winger in this world that can do that and that's the measure of the quality of the lad and his scoring ability."

— Alex Ferguson, on Ronaldo's scoring record during the 2007–08 season.[134]

Ronaldo scored his first hat-trick for Manchester United in a 6–0 win against Newcastle United at Old Trafford on 12 January 2008, bringing Manchester United up to the top of the Premier League table.[135] He scored his twenty-third league goal of the season in a 2–0 win against Reading, equalling his entire total for the 2006–07 season.[136] On 30 January, he scored another two goals against Portsmouth,[137] which included a free-kick which was described as one of the greatest ever,[138] and scored another brace in a 5–1 victory against Newcastle United on 23 February.[139]

On 19 March 2008, Ronaldo captained United for the first time in his career in a home win over Bolton, again scoring both goals in the 2–0 victory.[140] The second of the goals was his 33rd of the campaign, which set a new club single-season scoring record by a midfielder and thus topped George Best's forty-year-old total of 32 goals in the 1967–68 season.[141] In the championship run in, Ronaldo scored against Middlesbrough in a 2–2 draw,[142] an equalising retaken penalty against Arsenal in a 2–1 win a week later,[143] and the opening two goals against West Ham United in a 4–1 victory.[144] Ronaldo scored his final league goal of the season, a goal which put United 1–0 in front, from the penalty spot in the title decider against Wigan on 11 May before Ryan Giggs scored the second to clinch the title for United.[145]

In the knockout stage of the Champions League against Olympique Lyonnais on 4 March, Ronaldo scored the decisive goal in the second leg which helped United advance 2–1 on aggregate,[146] and in the Champions League quarter final, he played as a striker and scored against Roma with a header,[147] Despite him missing a penalty in the semi-final first leg against Barcelona,[148] United eventually advanced to the 2007–08 Champions League final via a Paul Scholes goal.[149] In the final, which took place on 21 May against league rivals Chelsea, Ronaldo scored the opening goal after 26 minutes, which was negated by a Chelsea equaliser in the 45th minute as the match ended 1–1 after extra time. His penalty was saved in the shoot-out which put Chelsea in position to win the trophy,[150] but Chelsea captain John Terry shot wide right after slipping on the pitch surface, and Manchester United emerged victorious 6–5 on penalties.[151][152] Ronaldo was named the UEFA Fans' Man of the Match,[153]

"Ronaldo is better than George Best and Denis Law, who were two brilliant and great players in the history of United."

— Dutch legend Johan Cruyff on the 23-year-old Ronaldo, April 2008.[154]

After scoring 31 league goals, he was awarded with the Premier League Golden Boot and the Premier League Player of the Season awards,[155] and again won the PFA Players' Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards, as well as being named in the PFA Team of the Year for a third consecutive year.[156][157]

Ronaldo finished the season with a career-high 42 goals in all competitions, four short of Denis Law's team-record mark of 46 in the 1963–64 season. The top scorer in the Champions League, Ronaldo was named best forward and player of the tournament.[158] Ronaldo's 31 goal haul was rewarded with his becoming the first winger to win the 2007–08 European Golden Shoe, finishing eight points ahead of Mallorca's Dani Güiza.[159]


Ronaldo playing for United against rivals Liverpool during the 2008–09 season.

In May, Manchester United chief executive David Gill and manager Alex Ferguson both stated that Ronaldo would stay at the club,[160] while David Beckham said: "I believe he's at the right club now, a club he should stay at".[161] However, on 5 June, Sky Sports reported that Ronaldo had expressed an interest in moving to Real Madrid if they offered him the same amount of money the team had allegedly promised him earlier in the year.[162][163] Manchester United filed a tampering complaint with FIFA on 9 June over Madrid's alleged pursuit of Ronaldo, but FIFA declined to take any action.[164][165]

In July, FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed that Ronaldo should be allowed to leave, saying: "If the player wants to play somewhere else, then a solution should be found because if he stays in a club where he does not feel comfortable to play then it's not good for the player and for the club", and described the situation as "modern slavery",[166] comments Ronaldo agreed with.[167][168] The comments annoyed United manager Alex Ferguson, who said "I do not want to dignify this kind of statement with a response but when you consider the history of slavery, it was a very unfortunate statement".[169] Speculation that a transfer would happen continued until 6 August, when Ronaldo confirmed that he would stay at United for at least another year, stating: "I will play for Manchester with all my heart and soul. I will fight and honour that shirt with the same commitment and dedication as always".[170][171][172] When rumours surfaced again in December about a move to Real Madrid, Ferguson quipped: "Do you think I would enter into a contract with that mob? Absolutely no chance. I would not sell them a virus".[173][174]

Prior to the new season, Ronaldo underwent ankle surgery in Amsterdam on 7 July,[175] ruling him out for up to three months.[176] He returned to action earlier than expected on 17 September in United's goalless UEFA Champions League group stage draw with Villarreal as a substitute for Park Ji-Sung,[177] and scored his first goal of the season in a 3–1 League Cup third round win over Middlesbrough on 23 September.[178]

On 29 October, Ronaldo began to show similar form to the previous season when he scored both goals in a 2–0 victory against West Ham,[179] and scored two goals three days later against Hull City in a 4–3 win.[180] He again scored twice in a 5–0 win over Stoke City on 15 November 2008, with the goals being his 100th and 101st goals in all competitions for Manchester United, both coming from direct free kicks.[181] The goals also meant that Ronaldo had now scored against each of the other 19 teams in the Premier League at the time.[182] On 30 November, he received the third red card of his career when he was sent off for a second bookable offence against Manchester City for handball.[183]

"All these great players over the years, the Maradonas, Cruyffs, Pelés – they all took a kick. It didn't deter them at all. I remember wee Jimmy Johnstone at Celtic: he'd go straight at the defender who'd just fouled him to let him know he wouldn't be bullied. Cristiano has a similar thing. He had an operation in the summer, which was the result of consistent tackling on him, but he's naturally brave. I don't think it ever stopped Maradona, I don't think it stopped Pele. If you're them, you don't think of that when you have a ball at your feet, because that's what you want. It won't stop Cristiano and that's not getting recognised. He's always wanting to do something with the ball, yet the fans chant, 'Cheat!' Well, who is the cheat? Who's cheating football? Not Cristiano."

— Alex Ferguson.[184]

On 2 December, Ronaldo became Manchester United's first 1968. He finished with 446 points, 165 ahead of runner-up Lionel Messi,[185] and said that it was "one of the most beautiful days of my life".[186] On 18 December, Ronaldo scored in the 5–3 semi-final victory over Japanese club Gamba Osaka in the FIFA Club World Cup,[187] and, after assisting the winning goal as United beat LDU Quito 1–0 in the final in Yokohama,[188] was awarded the Silver Ball as the second best player in the tournament, finishing runner-up to teammate Wayne Rooney.[189] On 12 January, he became the first Premier League player ever to be named the FIFA World Player of the Year, in addition to being the first Portuguese player to win the award since Luís Figo in 2001.[190]

On 27 January, Ronaldo scored two goals in a 5–0 win against West Bromwich Albion,[191] before scoring a penalty in a 1–0 win against Everton four days later.[192] He again scored the winning goal, this time against Blackburn Rovers on 21 February with a free-kick which helped put United eight points clear at the top of the table.[193] On 5 April, Ronaldo scored another two goals against Aston Villa, but was overshadowed by debutant Federico Macheda, who scored a last-minute winner to put United top of the league following consecutive defeats to Liverpool and Fulham.[194] Another brace came on 25 April, as United came from 2–0 down at half-time to beat Tottenham Hotspur 5–2, with Ronaldo scoring the first from the penalty spot, as well as the crucial third goal.[195] On 10 May, he scored his final ever goal for United in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford with a free-kick which put United 1–0 up.[196]

On 11 March, Ronaldo scored his first Champions League goal of the season, and first since the final against Chelsea, in a 2–0 victory over Inter Milan that sent United into the quarter-finals.[197] In the second leg against Porto on 15 April, Ronaldo scored a 40-yard game-winning goal as United advanced to the semi-finals. For this goal, Ronaldo holds the distinction of being the first player to win the FIFA Puskás Award, in 2009, an honour handed by FIFA to the best goal of the year.[198] He later called it the best goal he had ever scored.[199][200] In the semi-final second leg, Ronaldo scored two against Arsenal including a free-kick from 39.1 yards as United advanced to the Champions League final,[201] where he made little impact in United's 2–0 loss to Barcelona.[202][203] He finished with 53 appearances in all competitions, which was four higher than the previous year, but scored sixteen fewer goals (26) than his career-best total of 42 from the previous season. He was also named in the PFA Team of the Year for a fourth consecutive year.[204]

On 11 June, Manchester United accepted an "unconditional" offer of £80 million from Real Madrid for Ronaldo after it was revealed that he again had expressed his desire to leave the club.[205] It was confirmed by a representative of the Glazer family that the sale was fully condoned by Ferguson.[206] When Ronaldo had eventually completed his transfer to Real, he expressed his gratitude towards Ferguson for helping him develop as a player, saying, "He's been my father in sport, one of the most important factors and most influential in my career".[207]

Real Madrid


"I have nothing but praise for the boy. He is easily the best player in the world. His contribution as a goal threat is unbelievable. His stats are incredible. Strikes at goal, attempts on goal, raids into the penalty box, headers. It is all there. Absolutely astounding."

— Alex Ferguson, after Ronaldo's transfer to Real Madrid.[208]

On 26 June 2009, Real Madrid confirmed that Ronaldo would join the club on 1 July 2009 from Manchester United for £80 million (€94 million) becoming the most expensive footballer in history,[209] after agreeing terms and signing a six-year contract. Ronaldo's contract was worth €11 million per year[210] and had a €1 billion buy-out clause.[211] He was presented to the world media as a Real Madrid player on 6 July,[212] where he was handed the number 9 shirt.[213] The shirt was presented to him by Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stéfano.[214] Ronaldo was welcomed by between 80,000 and 85,000 fans at his presentation at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, surpassing Diego Maradona's record of 75,000 fans when he was presented in Italy, after he was transferred from Barcelona to Napoli in 1984.[215]

Ronaldo and Real Madrid against Diego Forlán and city rivals Atlético Madrid.

Ronaldo made his Madrid debut on 21 July in a 1–0 win over Shamrock Rovers. His first goal came a week later with a penalty in Madrid's 4–2 win over LDU Quito.[216] On 29 August, Ronaldo capped his La Liga debut with a goal, scoring Real's second from the penalty spot in a 3–2 home win against Deportivo La Coruña.[217] On 15 September, Ronaldo scored two free kicks in a 5–2 away victory over Zürich, his first Champions League goals for Real.[218] He broke a Madrid club record when he scored in a league match against Villarreal and thus became the first ever player to score in his first four La Liga appearances.[219]

Ronaldo and Raúl.

An ankle injury suffered on 10 October, while Ronaldo was on international duty with Portugal against Hungary, kept him out until 25 November, which in turn caused him to miss both of Madrid's Champions League group stage matches against Milan.[220][221] Ronaldo made his first post-injury start in a 1–0 El Clásico defeat to Barcelona on 29 November. On 6 December, he was sent off for the first time in his Madrid career during Real's 4–2 victory against Almería, a match which also saw him miss a penalty. He was carded first for removing his shirt during a goal celebration, then for kicking out at an opponent three minutes later.[222] Ronaldo was second in the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year award and also second in the 2009 Ballon d'Or award.


On 5 May 2010, Ronaldo scored his first Real Madrid hat-trick in an away game against Mallorca.[223] Although his first season at Real Madrid ended trophyless, Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuaín scored 53 league goals during the course of the season and became Real's highest scoring league duo in their history.[224]

With the departure of Raúl during the summer of 2010, Ronaldo was handed the number 7 shirt for Real Madrid.[225] On 23 October 2010, Ronaldo scored four goals against Racing de Santander, the most goals he had ever scored in a single match.[226] This completed a goalscoring run of six consecutive matches (three in La Liga, one in the Champions League, and two for Portugal) in which Ronaldo scored in each match, totalling 11 goals, which is the most Ronaldo has scored in a single month. On 20 November, Ronaldo scored his second La Liga hat-trick of the season in a 5–1 win over Athletic Bilbao.[227] His final match of the calendar year saw him score a hat-trick in an 8–0 trashing of Levante in the Copa del Rey.[228]

Ronaldo during a friendly game against Peñarol before the beginning of the season

Ronaldo began 2011 with a very promising outlook, especially after Real Madrid acknowledged he had broken numerous goalscoring records, previously settled and held by classic players such as Alfredo Di Stéfano, Hugo Sánchez and Manuel Alday. Ronaldo began his scoring spree by scoring two vital goals in a tight 3–2 victory away to Getafe. He then consolidated his massive performances by scoring a hat-trick and assisting Kaká in a 4–2 victory over Villarreal on 9 January.[229] On 3 March 2011, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in a 7–0 trashing of Málaga, but was affected by a muscle injury at the end of the match, which forced him to spend 10 days on the sidelines.[230]

Ronaldo against Tottenham's (and future team-mate) Gareth Bale in the UEFA Champions League

In April, he made another massive comeback from injury, sustaining a three-game scoring streak (including two goals in Champions League quarter-finals against Tottenham Hotspur), thus arriving to the first of a historical series of four El Clásico encounters two goals short of breaking his personal record of 42 goals in all competitions in a single season.

During the second league edition of El Clásico, Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot and took his tally to 41 goals, also taking his scoring streak to four games. On 20 April, Ronaldo scored the winning goal against Barcelona in the 103rd minute of the Copa del Rey final.[231] On 7 May Ronaldo scored four goals in a 6–2 victory against Sevilla.[232] These four goals took him to 46 for the season which surpassed his previous record of 42 in a season playing for Manchester United.[233] Three days later he reached 49 goals for the season, by scoring another hat-trick in a 4–0 home win against Getafe.[234] On 15 May, after scoring two free-kick goals in a 3–1 win over Villarreal, he equalled the La Liga record with most goals in a season with 38, a record previously held by Telmo Zarra and Hugo Sánchez.[235]

On 21 May, he scored two goals in the last league match of the season against Almería, taking his Pichichi total to 41, and La Liga total to 40, becoming the only player to score 40 goals in a La Liga season.[236][237] By doing this, he won the European Golden Shoe award once again, becoming the first player to win the trophy in two different leagues.[238] The sports newspaper Marca, which awards the Pichichi Trophy, included the goal scored on 18 September 2010 against Real Sociedad in Ronaldo's goal count, which had been officially attributed to Pepe.[239] Ronaldo also broke Zarra's record of most goals per minute, with a goal scored every 70.7 minutes. Ronaldo's record-breaking figures became a source of major attention from public media, such as being included in the Sports Illustrated World XI,[240] rating him as one of the world's best footballers. Ronaldo ended his second season at Real Madrid with a total of 53 goals in all competitions.[241]


Ronaldo against Ajax during their group stage match in the UEFA Champions League on 27 September 2011

On 17 August 2011, Ronaldo scored his 100th goal with Real Madrid with a first-half equaliser against Barcelona in the second leg of the 2011 Spanish Supercup in the Camp Nou. On 27 August 2011, he opened the 2011–12 La Liga season with a hat-trick in a 6–0 win at Real Zaragoza.[242] On 24 September, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, including two penalties in Real Madrid's 6–2 win over Rayo Vallecano.[243] This was his ninth La Liga hat-trick and tenth hat-trick for Real Madrid. On 27 September, Ronaldo scored Real's opening goal in a 3–0 victory over Ajax in the UEFA Champions League.[244]

After not scoring in his previous three games, Ronaldo scored his tenth La Liga hat-trick in a match away to Málaga on 22 October, which Real Madrid won 4–0.[245] His twelfth Real Madrid hat-trick followed on 6 November in a 7–1 victory over Osasuna.[246] On 26 November 2011, Ronaldo scored two penalties in a 4–1 defeat of Atlético Madrid in the Madrid derby,[247] and then scored another hat-trick in a 6–2 win away to Sevilla on 17 December 2011 to put Real Madrid back on top of the league.[248]

Ronaldo was third in the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, behind Lionel Messi and Xavi, and second in the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or, behind Lionel Messi and ahead of Xavi. In Real Madrid's next game in La Liga at home to Granada, Ronaldo scored the fifth goal in a 5–1 win. On 22 January 2012, Ronaldo scored two penalties in a 4–1 win over Athletic Bilbao, and on 28 January scored Real Madrid's second goal in a 3–1 win against Real Zaragoza. Ronaldo also scored two goals against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, which Real lost 4–3 on aggregrate. On 12 February 2012, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in a 4–2 home win over Levante which stretched Real Madrid's lead over Barcelona to 10 points.[249]

Ronaldo playing against CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League last 16 in February 2012

On 24 March 2012, Ronaldo reached more than 100 goals in La Liga in just three seasons at Real Madrid when he scored the first of his two goals in the match against Real Sociedad, the second quickest La Liga player to reach that milestone in the league after Isidro Lángara, reaching the milestone in 92 matches and breaking the previous club record held by Puskás.[250]

On 11 April, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Atlético Madrid in a 4–1 win, as well as assisting the last goal.[251] His hat-trick, one goal from a free kick, one from 30 yards on the left wing and one penalty, gave him 40 league goals in the season, making him the only player in La Liga history, or in any other major European league, to score 40 goals in two seasons. Ronaldo officially broke his previous record of 40 goals in a La Liga season on 14 April, scoring in a 3–1 win against Sporting Gijón. On 25 April, in the second leg of the semi-finals in the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League against Bayern Munich, Ronaldo scored two goals, including a penalty. Extra time ended with the tie level at 3–3, and Real Madrid were eliminated in the shootout with Ronaldo's kick being saved by Manuel Neuer.[252]

On 13 May 2012, the last matchday, Ronaldo scored against Mallorca which made him the first player ever to score against every team in a single season in La Liga.[13] He ended his third season at Real Madrid by winning his first league title with the club, with a record 100 points, notching a total of 46 league goals and 60 goals in all competitions, breaking the Real Madrid record he had set the previous season. Real Madrid's attacking trio of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín became the most prolific trio in Spanish league history, scoring 89 league goals, and surpassed the 72 league goals of Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry from the 2008–09 season.[253]


Ronaldo during a friendly game against Milan before the beginning of the season

Ronaldo started the season by lifting the Supercopa de España with Real Madrid, scoring two goals in a 4–4 away goals aggregate win against Barcelona. The goal in the first leg made him the first Madrid player in the history of El Clásico to score for the fourth game in a row at the Camp Nou,[254] with the winning goal in the second leg, Ronaldo equalled the Real Madrid record of Iván Zamorano of scoring in five consecutive El Clásico matches.[255] On 30 August, Ronaldo was second (tied with Lionel Messi) in the 2011–12 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award with 17 votes, behind winner Andrés Iniesta.[256]

On 2 September 2012, Ronaldo scored his first two league goal of the season in a 3–0 win over Granada, with the second being 150th goal for Real Madrid.[257] This goal made him the 10th highest scorer for Real Madrid in all competitions. Ronaldo was substituted at the 63rd minute by team mate Gonzalo Higuaín, due to a minor thigh injury. Afterwards, Ronaldo claimed that he was unhappy with a "professional issue" after he refused to celebrate his 149th and 150th goals for the club. This led to reports of controversy between the player and the club, with coach José Mourinho believing that UEFA's decision to elect Iniesta as the best player in Europe in 2011–12 could have been one of the reasons behind Ronaldo's unhappiness.[258]

On 18 September, Ronaldo scored his first Champions League goal of the season in a 3–2 victory over Manchester City. On 30 September, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick (including two penalties), his first La Liga hat-trick of the season in a 5–1 win over Deportivo de La Coruña. On 4 October, Ronaldo scored his first career hat-trick in the Champions League as he led Real Madrid to a 4–1 victory over Ajax.[259] He hit a brace four dats later against Barcelona in a 2–2 draw at Camp Nou, making him the first and only player to score in six consecutive El Clásicos.[260] On 1 December, after not scoring in his previous three games, Ronaldo scored a goal from a free kick and assisted Özil to score the second goal in a 2–0 victory over Atlético Madrid.[261]

"If Messi is the best on the planet, Ronaldo is the best in the universe. If you are going to give out the Ballon d'Or because a player is the best, give it to Cristiano or Messi. But I ask: if the two are on the same level, is it normal that one wins four and the other one? It is not."

José Mourinho, when asked about the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or.[262]

On 6 January, following the 2012–13 winter break, Ronaldo scored a brace to lift 10-man Real Madrid to a 4–3 victory over Real Sociedad. The match represented the first time that Ronaldo captained Real Madrid in an official match,[263] but received his fifth yellow card of the season and was suspended for the team's next league game at Osasuna serving a one-game ban. This was the first time Ronaldo was suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards, having only previously missed games when being given a straight red card.[264] On 7 January, he was second in the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or, for the fourth time behind Lionel Messi.[265] On 9 January, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Celta Vigo in the second leg of a Copa del Rey game.[266] Following a first leg victory over Valencia in the Copa del Rey on 15 January, Ronaldo got into an argument with manager José Mourinho.[267][268] On 27 January, Ronaldo scored a perfect hat-trick against Getafe in a 4–0 win, including his 300th club goal.[269] On 30 January, against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, Ronaldo made his 500th club appearances. He was the first non-Spanish to captain Real Madrid in a Clásico in the last 60 years.[270]

Ronaldo faced his former club Manchester United for the first time on 13 February in the Champions League Round of 16 and scored the equaliser in a 1–1 draw at the Santiago Bernabéu.[271] On 21 February, Ronaldo scored another hat-trick against Sevilla, his 21st hat-trick of his career and his 17th in La Liga.[272] On 26 February, Ronaldo scored twice against Barcelona in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals, making this the sixth consecutive trip to the Camp Nou in which he had scored.[273] Ronaldo then scored the winning goal in a 2–1 victory against Manchester United on 5 March, which was his return to Old Trafford for the first time since his world-record £80 million move to Real Madrid in 2009.[274] Thereafter, Ronaldo stated he was "sad" and had a "strange feeling" after his goal knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League.[275]

On 10 March, Ronaldo struck twice against Celta Vigo to send Real Madrid above city rivals Atlético into second place in La Liga.[276] The second goal, his 138 goal in La Liga, earned him a place in the top 25 goalscorers in the history of La Liga in just 127 games, recording an average of 1.08 goals per game, the highest of all the top 25 goalscorers.[277] On 16 March, Ronaldo scored the equaliser in a 5–2 victory against Mallorca, which was his 350 goal in his career.[277][278] On 3 April, Ronaldo scored the opening goal against Galatasaray in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.[279] On 9 April, Ronaldo scored twice in the second leg against Galatasaray to send Real Madrid to the semi-finals in the Champions League, winning 5–3 on aggregate.[280]

Ronaldo picked up a thigh muscle injury while warming up for the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg on 24 April, where he scored an away goal in a 4–1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund.[281] He was absent from Real Madrid's next game against Atlético Madrid, but returned to action on 30 April for the 2–0 second leg victory against Dortmund (a 4–3 aggregate defeat).[282] On 4 May, Ronaldo scored two headers against Real Valladolid in a 4–3 home win.[283] The British media reported that Manchester United chief executive David Gill was in Madrid to talk with Ronaldo's agent about a return to Old Trafford,[284] but other media outlets reported that United would struggle to re-sign him after the announcement of Alex Ferguson's retirement as manager of Manchester United.[285]

Ronaldo scored his 200th goal for Real Madrid on 8 May in a 6–2 win against Málaga. This figure made him sixth in the list of the club's all-time top scorers and the player that took fewest matches (197) to reach 200 goals.[286] On 17 May, Ronaldo headed the opening goal from a Mesut Özil corner in the 14th minute of the eventual 2–1 Copa del Rey final defeat to Atletico Madrid, which was also his 111th goal (201st overall) in his 100th home appearance.[287] He was shown a straight red card in the 114th minute of extra time of the final for an altercation with Gabi.[288] He was charged for the accumulation of yellow cards and violent conduct by the RFEF, banned for the two games in the last 16 of the 2013–14 Copa del Rey.[289]

Ronaldo ended his fourth season at Real Madrid as the Champions League top goalscorer for a second time in his career with 12 goals. In the league, Real Madrid failed to defend their La Liga title, finishing runners up to arch-rivals Barcelona, and were eliminated in the semi-finals in the UEFA Champions League for the third consecutive year. Accounting for all competitions, Ronaldo ended the season with a total of 55 goals, having scored 19 goals with his right foot (excluding free kicks and penalty kicks), 16 with his left foot and 9 with his head.[290]


Ronaldo against Galatasaray during their group stage match in the UEFA Champions League on 17 September 2013

Real Madrid's failure to win major silverware last season and reports of division in the dressing room had prompted speculation that Ronaldo, whose contract runs until June 2015, might be seeking a move away from the Spanish capital.[291][292][293] On 8 June, Ronaldo moved to quell the speculation over his future by insisting that he would reach a deal to renew his contract with Real Madrid.[294] On 3 July, Ronaldo admitted that he was missing the English Premier League, but ruled out an imminent move back to Old Trafford.[295]

On 18 August, Ronaldo made his 200th competitive appearance for Real Madrid in a 2–1 home win over Real Betis.[296] Ronaldo had not scored during the first two league games, but against Athletic Bilbao on 1 September 2013, he scored his first of the season in a 3–1 home victory.[297]

After months of speculation surrounding his future,[298] Ronaldo signed a new contract with Real Madrid on 15 September that would keep him at the club until 2018, with a salary of €17 million (after taxes), making him the highest paid player in football.[299][300]

On 17 September, Ronaldo scored the second Champions League hat-trick of his career in Real Madrid's opening group match of the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League, a 6–1 away win against Galatasaray.[301] On 22 September, Ronaldo scored twice in a 4–1 home victory against Getafe CF, with his second goal coming from a backheel which made him the fifth highest scorer in the club's history with 208 goals.[302] In his 100th game in the European competitions against Copenhagen on 2 October, Ronaldo scored a brace as Real Madrid went on to a 4–0 home victory.[303] On 5 October 2013, Ronaldo scored a 94th-minute winner against Levante.[304] On 23 October, Ronaldo scored twice in a 2–1 home victory against Juventus to become the Champions League's third all-time highest goalscorer with 57 goals.[305] On 30 October, Ronaldo scored his 18th La Liga hat-trick in a 7–3 home win against Sevilla.[306]

In a debate at Oxford Union in October, when asked whether FIFA president Sepp Blatter preferred Messi or Ronaldo, Blatter paid tribute to the work ethic of the Argentine before taking a swipe at Ronaldo, claiming "one of them has more expenses for the hairdresser than the other". Real Madrid demanded – and promptly received – a full apology, and the Portuguese issued his own riposte with a mock-salute celebration after scoring a penalty against Sevilla, after Blatter had described him as a "commander" on the pitch.[307]

In his 106 away appearances for Real Madrid on 2 November, Ronaldo scored his 100th away goal as he hit a brace in a 3–2 away victory against Rayo Vallecano, averaging 0.94 per game.[308] On 5 November 2013, Ronaldo broke the record held for Champions League goals scored in a calendar year with 14 goals, after he equalised for Real Madrid in a 2–2 draw at Juventus. On 9 November 2013, Ronaldo scored his 19th La Liga hat-trick (one from open play, a penalty and a direct free kick) in a 5–1 home victory against Real Sociedad, which made him second in the all time League hat-trick list. The direct free kick was his 20th direct free kick goal for Real Madrid, one more than free kick specialist Ronaldinho scored with Barcelona.[309]

After his strong form in the 2013–14 campaign by which he had scored 32 goals from 22 matches played for both club and country by the middle of November, including five hat-tricks, Ronaldo suggested that he could be in the "best form of his life".[310] On 23 November 2013, Ronaldo was replaced by Jesé in the 52nd minute against Almería after suffering a muscle strain, which would keep him out for one to two weeks.[311] Ronaldo made his return in a 2–0 away victory against Copenhagen in the Champions League on 10 December and went on to break the record for most goals scored in the Champions League group stages with 9 goals.[312] His final match of the calendar year saw him score a header in a 3–2 away win against Valencia, ending the year with a tally of 69 goals in 59 appearance, his highest year-end goal tally.[313][314] With the goal, he became the club's fourth top scorer in the league with 164 league goals, equalling the tally gained by Hugo Sánchez. He also become the second top scorer in matches played away from home with 72 goals, 15 behind the record holder Raúl with 87.[315]

"Ronaldo is a unique player for all of his talent and his professionalism. He is a player who is extraordinarily consistent."

—Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti.[316]

In Real Madrid's first match following the 2013–14 winter break, Ronaldo score twice in a 3–0 home victory against Celta Vigo, including his 400th professional career goal in 653 games for club and country. He dedicated his two goals to Eusébio, who had died two days before.[317] On 13 January 2014, Ronaldo won the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or, beating Lionel Messi, who had won the prize the previous four years, and Franck Ribéry.[318] This was his second Ballon d'Or overall, becoming the 10th multiple winner of the football's top individual prize. He also became the third player to win the award after playing at least a full calendar year at Real Madrid.[319] Ronaldo had been runner-up on another four occasions: 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012.[320] A tearful Ronaldo described receiving the accolade as "no words to describe this moment" and "it's hard to win this award".[321] The achievement fuelled media to recognise Ronaldo as one of the greatest players in football history,[322][323][324] with Pelé stating that Ronaldo must continue to maintain his exceptional high standards.[325]

On 18 January 2014, Ronaldo netted a long-range finish from 30 yards in a 5–0 away win over Real Betis.[326] On 11 February 2014, in the Spanish Cup's semifinals second leg, Ronaldo scored a brace in a 2–0 away win against Atlético Madrid to surpass Luis Aragonés as the top scorer in the history of 'Copa' games between Real and Atlético with 5 goals.[327] His seventh-minute penalty meant Ronaldo had scored in every single minute of a 90-minute football match.[328] With a brace against Schalke 04 in a 6–1 victory on 26 February 2014, Ronaldo become the first player to score 10 or more goals in 3 consecutive Champions League campaigns.[329]

Ronaldo against city rivals Atletico Madrid on 28 September 2013

On 15 March 2014, after he scored the only goal of the match against Málaga, Ronaldo become the first player to score 25 goals in five consecutive league seasons.[330] On 18 March 2014, Ronaldo scored two goals against Schalke 04 in the second leg of the Champions League's round-of–16, allowing him to surpass his personal record of 12 goals in a single UEFA Champions League season, putting him just one behind Lionel Messi's record of 14 goals from the 2011–12 season. On 29 March 2014, with a goal against Rayo Vallecano, Ronaldo equalled Lionel Messi's record of scoring in 10 consecutive games.[331]

In Ronaldo's 100th Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund on 2 April 2014,[332] he scored his record-equalling 14th Champions League goal of the season in a 3–0 home victory, which also tied him with Alfredo Di Stéfano as Real Madrid's joint second top scorer in European competition with 49 goals, behind only Raúl with 66 goals.[333] With the goal, Ronaldo also became the first player to score in 8 consecutive Champions League matches.[334] Ronaldo was substituted with 10 minutes to play due to a thigh injury, and missed four matches, including Real Madrid's Copa del Rey final victory against Barcelona at Mestalla Stadium.[335]

Ronaldo made his return on 23 April 2014 in the Champions League semi-final first leg win over Bayern Munich.[336] He scored twice in the next match against Osasuna, his 100th and 101st league goals at the Santiago Bernabéu.[337] On 29 April 2014, with his two goals against Bayern Munich in a 4–0 away win at the Allianz Arena for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, Ronaldo set a new record by becoming the first player to score 16 goals in a single Champions League/European Cup season.[338]

On 4 May 2014, Ronaldo scored a last-minute backheeled volley in the 2–2 home draw with Valencia, to bring his goals total to 50 for the fourth consecutive season.[339] For this goal, Ronaldo holds the distinction of being the first player to win the LFP Best Goal, in 2014, an honour handed by LFP to the best goal of the season.[340] In the Champions League final against cross-town rival Atlético Madrid, he became the first player in history to score in two European Cup finals for two different winning teams, as Los Blancos won their tenth European Cup.[341] Ronaldo was the competition's top goalscorer for the second consecutive season and third overall, with a record 17 goals in a single season as well as a total of 67 goals.[342] In a 2014 UEFA poll, he was named the greatest goalscorer to play in the UEFA Champions League.[343]

Ronaldo finished the season with 31 goals in 30 league games, winning the Pichichi as the top goalscorer in Spain, and shared the European Golden Shoe with Liverpool striker Luis Suárez.[344] Real Madrid's attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano, dubbed "BBC", finished the season with 97 goals.[345]


"In your life you do not win without sacrifices and you must take risks. If I had stopped I would have been fine. I did not want to miss the final of the Champions League or the World Cup. I was not fully fit, but I forced the issue."

—Ronaldo, on his patellar tendinitis problems in 2014.[346]

Following his patellar tendinitis problems that troubled him during the last few games of the 2013–14 season and at the 2014 FIFA World Cup,[347] Ronaldo scored twice in Los Blancos' first competitive game of the season (a 2–0 victory) against Sevilla in the 2014 UEFA Super Cup.[348] With his two goals, Ronaldo tied second in the list of top scorers in European club competitions with 70 goals.[349]

After the opening game of the La Liga season, where he scored the second in a 2–0 home win against Córdoba, Carlo Ancelotti announced that Ronaldo would do "specific work to improve his condition".[350] On 28 August 2014, Ronaldo won the 2013–14 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, after making the final three nominees in each of the four years that the accolade was held.[351] He returned to action in a 2–1 defeat to Atlético Madrid on 13 September, where he played on the right wing and provided 10 crosses into the penalty box.[352]

On 20 September, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Deportivo in an 8–2 away win,[353] scoring his first goal at the Estadio Riazor.[354] It was his 20th La Liga hat-trick, two away from Telmo Zarra and Alfredo Di Stéfano's all-time record of 22 hat-tricks.[355] Ronaldo also equalled Lionel Messi's record of hat-tricks away from home with seven hat-tricks.[356] Three days later he scored four goals, including two penalties, in a 5–1 victory against Elche. This was his 25th hat-trick for Real Madrid in all competitions, 3 hat-tricks behind the record holder, Alfredo Di Stéfano.[357] Having scored seven goals in 72 hours his coach Carlo Ancelotti stated: "The movements he makes are very quick and that's why they come as a surprise. He is always in just the right position because he has a unique gift for movement".[358] With 186 goals in 169 La Liga matches, Ronaldo broke into the top ten scorers in La Liga.[359]

On 5 October, he scored yet another hat-trick, this time against Athletic Bilbao in a 5–0 win.[360] With two goals against Levante in a 5–0 win, Ronaldo set a record scoring start in a Spanish league season, increasing his league-leading tally to 15 goals in eight rounds despite missing one game due to injury.[361] On 22 October away at Liverpool, where he scored the opening goal in a 3–0 win, Ronaldo become the first player to score in ten consecutive Champions League away games and equalled Messi's record of scoring in 22 different stadiums in Europe.[362] With his strike against Barcelona in a 3–1 home victory three days later, Ronaldo had scored 15 goals in his last seven league games, breaking the Real Madrid record set by Ferenc Puskas who scored 13 times across seven consecutive league matches in both the 1959–60 and 1960–61 seasons.[363] On Ronaldo's prolific goal-scoring, former Manchester United player Bobby Charlton stated; "Cristiano Ronaldo is changing the game in Spain. With all that pace and power and athleticism, he is driving Real Madrid back into dominance both there and in Europe."[364]

On 6 December 2014, Ronaldo became the fastest player in La Liga history to score 200 goals when, in his 178th La Liga game, he scored a hat-trick against Celta Vigo; his 23rd hat-trick was also a La Liga record.[15] Three days later, Ronaldo surpassed former Real Madrid team-mate Raúl's previous competition record by claiming his 72nd in the Champions League to close in on record-holder Lionel Messi.[365] On 20 December 2014, Ronaldo won the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, winning the fourth title of the year with Real Madrid; he was awarded the Silver Ball as the second best player of the competition, behind team-mate Sergio Ramos.[366]

Ronaldo playing against FC Schalke 04 in the Champions League on 11 March 2015

On 4 January 2015, Ronaldo scored the opening goal in a 2–1 defeat against Valencia CF at Mestalla Stadium to become Real Madrid's highest scorer in away La Liga games with 88 goals in 91 matches.[367] On 12 January 2015, Ronaldo won the 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or;[368][369] he joined Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo in being crowned the best player in the world by FIFA for the third time.[370][371] Ronaldo was given the ninth red card of his career in a 2–1 win over Córdoba on 24 January for kicking and slapping Edimar, which resulted in a two-match ban.[372] Following the winter break, his prolific goal-scoring form dropped, which prompted speculation that he may still be suffering with the tendonitis in his left knee that hampered him at the World Cup finals in Brazil.[373][374]

On 18 February 2015, Ronaldo scored against Schalke 04 in a 2–0 Champions League victory to extend his run of scoring away in the competition to 12 matches.[375] In the round of 16 second leg, he scored twice in a 3–4 defeat to become the outright top scorer in UEFA club competitions with 78 goals, and also become the joint all-time top-scorer in the UEFA Champions League alongside Messi, with 75 goals.[376]

On 5 April 2015, Ronaldo scored five times in one game for the first time in his career, including an eight-minute hat-trick, in a 9–1 defeat of Granada in La Liga.[377] With these goals, Ronaldo equalled Alfredo Di Stéfano's record of 28 hat-tricks for Real Madrid.[378] Post match, his team-mate Karim Benzema labelled him a "phenomenon".[379] On 8 April, Ronaldo scored his 300th goal for Real Madrid in a 2–0 win at Rayo Vallecano.[380] 10 days later, he became the first player in the history of football to score 50 or more goals in a season on five occasions, when he scored the third goal in a 3–1 victory against Málaga.[16] Ronaldo broke Di Stéfano's hat-trick record with his 29th treble for the club in a 3–2 win at Sevilla on 2 May.[381] On 13 May, he scored his 307th goal for Real Madrid from a penalty, in a 1–1 home draw against Juventus, in the second leg of the Champions League semi-finals. With this goal, he equalled Aldredo Di Stéfano as Real Madrid's second highest goal-scorer in all competitions, behind only Raúl, also equalling Messi as the all-time top scorer in the UEFA Champions League, with 77 goals.[382]

In Real Madrid's final match of the season on 23 May (his 200th appearance for Real Madrid in La Liga and his 300th for the club in all competitions), Ronaldo registered his eighth hat-trick of the season against Getafe to equal Messi's all-time Spanish league record of hat-tricks in a season. With these goals, he set a new personal best for goals in one season with 61, improving on the 60 goals he scored in all competitions during the 2011–12 season; he also bettered his personal figures in the domestic league, setting a new personal best of 48 goals (two short of Messi's record), an improvement upon the 46 he scored during the 2011–12 edition of La Liga. As a result, Ronaldo won the Pichichi as the top goalscorer for the second consecutive year in Spain, and he also secured the European Golden Shoe as the most prolific player in European league action for a record fourth time.[383][384] With 10 goals, he was also the top-scorer in the UEFA Champions League for a third consecutive season, and the fourth time overall, alongside Messi and Neymar.[385] Real Madrid's season ended in disappointment, however, after failing to win both La Liga and the Champions League, earning a second-placed league finish, and a semifinal exit in Europe.[386]


Ronaldo playing against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on 15 September 2015.

After failing to score in the first two matches of the season, Ronaldo scored five goals in a 6–0 away win over Espanyol, whilst also providing an assist for teammate Karim Benzema. With the five goals, he set his Spanish league goal tally to 230 goals in 203 games, surpassing Raúl's record of 228 goals in 550 games for Real Madrid in La Liga, becoming the all-time top scorer for Real Madrid in the Spanish league.[387][388] Three days later, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Shakhtar Donetsk in Real's first group stage match of the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League, which took his Champions League goal tally to 80, making him the all-time top goalscorer in the history of the competition, ahead of Messi (77).[389]

On 30 September, Ronaldo scored both goals in Real Madrid's 2–0 away win over Malmö, and reached 500 career goals for both club and country in the process.[4] With these two goals, he also became Real Madrid's joint all-time top goalscorer in all competitions, alongside Raúl, with 323 goals according to most record books; Madrid's official record book however had Ronaldo ahead with 324 goals (as they attributed to him a 74th-minute goal in a 2–1 win over Real Sociedad on 18 September 2010, although Pepe had deflected Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick), and to celebrate this achievement he was presented with a trophy from the club.[390][391] On 17 October 2015, all doubt surrounding the record was cast aside as Ronaldo scored Real Madrid's second goal in a 3–0 league win at home over Levante to take his tally to 324 goals (325 according to Real Madrid).[392]

International career

Cristiano started his international youth career in 2001 being part of the under-15 Portugal team, amassing 34 youth caps and scoring 18 goals overall.[393] Apart from the under-15 team, Ronaldo also represented the under-17, under-20, under-21, and the under-23 national sides, scoring for each team.[393] Ronaldo earned his first senior cap for Portugal in a 1–0 victory against Kazakhstan on 20 August 2003.[394]

2004-05: Early success

Ronaldo (bottom center) with Jaap Stam (top center) and Giovanni van Bronckhorst (right) during Portugal's Euro 2004 semi-final against the Netherlands

Ronaldo was called up for Euro 2004,[395] scoring his first international goal in a 2–1 group stage loss to eventual champions Greece[396] and scoring again in a 2–1 semi-final win over the Netherlands.[397] He was featured in the UEFA Euro All-Star Team of this competition, providing two assists,[398] and scoring two goals.[399]

Ronaldo also represented Portugal at the 2004 Summer Olympics, scoring a goal in the tournament, although the Portuguese Olympic football squad was eliminated in the first round, finishing bottom of their group with three points after 4–2 defeats to eventual semi-finalists Iraq and quarter-finalists Costa Rica.[400][401]

2006-07: World Cup and first captaincy stint

Ronaldo was the second-highest scorer in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification in the European zone with seven goals,[399] and scored his first World Cup goal against Iran (2–0) with a penalty kick in Portugal's second match in the group stage.[402]

During a quarter-final match against England on 1 July 2006, Ronaldo's United teammate Wayne Rooney was sent off for stamping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho. The English media speculated that Ronaldo had influenced referee Horacio Elizondo's decision by aggressively complaining, after which he was seen in replays winking at the Portuguese bench following Rooney's dismissal. After the match, Ronaldo insisted that Rooney was a friend and that he was not pushing for Rooney to be sent off.[403] On 4 July, Elizondo clarified that the red card was due to Rooney's infraction and not the fracas between Rooney and Ronaldo that followed.[404]

The angry reaction from the English press caused Ronaldo to consider leaving United,[405] and he allegedly told Spanish sports daily Marca that he wished to move to Real Madrid.[406] In response to the speculation, Ferguson sent Portuguese assistant manager Carlos Queiroz to speak to Ronaldo in attempt to change his mind, a sentiment that was shared by Rooney.[407][408] Ronaldo stayed, and signed his new five-year extension in April 2007.[409]

Ronaldo captained Portugal for the first time during this friendly match against Brazil in February 2007 at the Emirates Stadium

Ronaldo was booed during Portugal's 1–0 semi-final defeat to France,[410] and missed out on the competition's Best Young Player award due to a negative e-mail campaign from England fans.[411] Though the online vote only affected the nomination process, FIFA's Technical Study Group awarded the honour to Germany's Lukas Podolski, citing Ronaldo's behaviour as a factor in the decision.[412]

Post World Cup, one day after his 22nd birthday, Ronaldo captained Portugal for the first time in a friendly against Brazil on 6 February 2007.[413] This move was in honour of Portuguese Football Federation president Carlos Silva, who had died two days earlier. Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari explained, "Mr. Silva asked me to make [Ronaldo] captain as a gesture... [he] is too young to be captain, but Mr. Silva asked me, and now he is no longer with us".[414]

2008–10: Permanent captaincy

Ronaldo scored eight goals in Portugal's UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying campaign,[415] behind Poland's Ebi Smolarek, but finished with only one goal in the tournament. When Portugal's squad for the tournament was announced, Ronaldo was given the number 7 shirt for the first time in a major tournament.[416] He was named man of the match in the group match against the Czech Republic, in which Portugal won 3–1.[417] Portugal were eliminated in the quarter-finals with a 3–2 loss against eventual finalists Germany.[418]

Ronaldo was made full-time captain of Portugal after Euro 2008.

After Portugal's unsuccessful performance in the European Championship, Luiz Felipe Scolari was replaced as Portugal coach with Carlos Queiroz.[419] In July 2008, Queiroz named Ronaldo as the new permanent captain of the Portugal national team.[420]

On 15 June 2010, in Portugal's opening 2010 World Cup match against Côte d'Ivoire, Ronaldo was tackled by right-back Guy Demel, which led to an argument and both being booked. The next day, Portugal contacted FIFA to suggest that Ronaldo's yellow card be rescinded since he was "pulled into" the confrontation after having already moved away from the spot where he was tackled, but the appeal was rejected.[421]

Ronaldo was named man of the match in all three of Portugal's group matches against Côte d'Ivoire (0–0), North Korea (7–0) and Brazil (0–0).[422][423][424] His only goal of the tournament came in Portugal's 7–0 group stage thrashing of North Korea on 21 June,[425] which marked his first international goal in 16 months.[426] The World Cup ended for Portugal with a 1–0 loss against eventual champions Spain in the Round of 16.[427]

2011–13: Individual and Euro success

Ronaldo scored seven goals in Portugal's UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, including two strikes against Bosnia in the play-offs for the tournament, and finished behind Germany's Miroslav Klose and the Netherlands' Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (not including the play-offs round). Portugal were drawn in Group B with Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, which was widely referred to as the "group of death" of the tournament.[428] In an interview with Kicker Magazine, Ronaldo stated that: "I will only be fully content with my career when I have lifted a trophy with Portugal".[429][430]

Ronaldo against Germany in their group stage match at UEFA Euro 2012

After the opening 0–1 defeat against Germany, Ronaldo was criticised for under performing, showing frustration at his and his team-mates' errors and for walking off into the changing-rooms straight after the match, rather than thanking the crowd with the team. Ronaldo's team-mate, Nani, later defended him, stating that he had left the pitch as he needed to instantly be treated for a possible injury, also adding that he was under excessive pressure, as football is a team sport.[431]

During the group stage match between Denmark and Portugal (3–2 win), Ronaldo missed two gilt-edged one-on-one chances.[432][433] In the final group match between Portugal and the Netherlands, Ronaldo scored two goals and had two other chances go against the woodwork to secure a 2–1 victory for Portugal, allowing the team to advance to the quarterfinals;[434] he was named "Man of the Match".[435]

Ronaldo was further praised for his performance against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals, where he darted in from behind his marker in the 79th minute and headed a cross from Joao Moutinho, sending Portugal into the semifinals with a 1–0 victory. After scoring the winning goal, he ran to the camera and chanted "para ti" as he had dedicated the goal to his son;[436][437] he was named "Man of the Match" for a second time throughout the tournament.[438]

In the semi-final against Spain, Ronaldo had several chances, but he sent three shots over the bar.[439] His best chance came in the 90th minute, but shot the ball high and wide.[440] The match ended with penalties, but Ronaldo did not take a penalty in the shootout as he had been slated to take the fifth one, but it never got that far.[441] The Portugal coach, Paulo Bento, knocked back criticism of Ronaldo not being employed earlier in the shootout: "Well we had this plan and if it would have been 4–4 and he would have taken the last penalty we would talk in a different way".[442][443]

Before and throughout the tournament, Ronaldo was particularly hailed by Diego Maradona, who described Ronaldo as "the best player on the planet" and went on to say that "[Ronaldo] has shown his countrymen that he does deserve a monument in Lisbon". Ronaldo was included in the UEFA Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament, the second time after 2004, and finished the competition as the joint-top goalscorer with three goals, along with five other players, although Spain's Fernando Torres took the Golden Boot. Though there was no third place playoff, UEFA decided for the first time to award both of the semi-final losers bronze medals.[444]

2014: World Cup and Portugal's record goalscorer

Ronaldo taking on Real Madrid team-mate Luka Modrić during a friendly match against Croatia

On 17 October 2012, Ronaldo won his 100th cap for the Portugal national team in a World Cup qualification match against Northern Ireland (1–1) at Porto's Estádio do Dragão. He became the third youngest European ever to reach that figure in the process, after Germany's Lukas Podolski and Estonia's Kristen Viikmäe.[445]

On 14 August 2013, Ronaldo scored his 40th goal for Portugal in a 1–1 friendly draw against the Netherlands.[446] On 6 September 2013, Ronaldo netted his first international hat-trick in a 15-minute spell in the second half at Windsor Park against Northern Ireland (4–2) in a World Cup qualification match to become Portugal's second-highest scorer ahead of Eusébio. With his goals against Northern Ireland, Ronaldo also established a personal record, since it was the first time that he scored in three consecutive matches with Portugal.[447]

Ronaldo scored eight goals in Portugal's FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign, including all four of the team's goals in the two-legged play-off against Sweden which ensured Portugal's place at the finals.[448] His hat-trick in the second-leg made him tied for Portugal's all-time top goalscorer after equalling Pauleta's record tally of 47 international goals.[449]

On 5 March 2014, Ronaldo netted twice in Portugal's 5–1 friendly win over Cameroon to take his tally to 49 goals, thus becoming his country's all-time leading goalscorer.[450] Going into the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as the team's only star player, any Portugal success at the tournament largely rested on the shoulders of Ronaldo.[451] However, Ronaldo was hampered by thigh injuries towards the end of the 2013–14 season with Real Madrid,[452] and the Portuguese Football Association confirmed on 4 June 2014 that he had a "muscle injury on the back of his left thigh as well as left-leg patellar tendinitis".[453]

Ronaldo regularly trained apart from Portugal's training session in order not to further aggravate his knee and thigh problems and frequently left training early to ice his knee.[454] Though Ronaldo was doubtful for Portugal's 2014 World Cup opener against Germany, he managed to play the full 90 minutes as his side lost 4–0.[454] In relation to his knee injury, on 18 June his doctor, Jose Carlos Noronha, warned Ronaldo that he risks threatening his career by playing on for Portugal at the World Cup.[455] Despite ongoing doubts over his fitness, Ronaldo played in the second match against the United States and delivered an assist for Varela's equaliser in the fifth minute of injury time as the match finished 2–2, keeping alive Portugal's slender World Cup hopes.[456] Playing with strapping on his left knee, Ronaldo scored the late winner against Ghana in a 2–1 victory, but Portugal were kept out of the qualification spots on goal difference.[457] The strike was his 50th goal for Portugal, and he became the first Portuguese player to play and score in three World Cup tournaments.[458]

2015: Euro 2016 qualification

After missing the first game of the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying against Albania due to injury,[459] Ronaldo scored the winner in stoppage time on the 95th minute to help Portugal grab a 1–0 away win in Denmark.[460] With his goal, Ronaldo became the competition's joint all-time leading goalscorer (including qualifying) with 22 goals.[461] A month later, with the only goal to defeat Armenia in Faro, Ronaldo reached a record 23 goals in the European Championship, surpassing Jon Dahl Tomasson of Denmark and Hakan Şükür of Turkey.[462] On 13 June 2015, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in Portugal's 3–2 win in Armenia.[463]

Player profile

Style of play

Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid against Espanyol in December 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo plays an attacking role, most often playing as either a striker,[464] or as a winger,[465] and is known in particular for his finishing, pace, dribbling, crossing and ability on free kicks.[208][466] He is able to play on either wing as well through the center of the pitch, making him a versatile attacker, capable of playing in any offensive position.[467] From a tactical standpoint, he usually plays in a free role, often drifting from the left wing into the centre when moving off the ball.[468] Ronaldo is known to be mentally sharp, with good vision and positioning, often predicting certain plays; he also possesses quick reactions, opportunism, balance, and agility.[468] Although right-footed, he is also able to control the ball, cross, and finish well with his left foot.[468]

Ronaldo is known for his technical skill, control and dribbling ability, as well as his flair in beating players during one on one situations.[464] A prolific goalscorer, he is able to finish well both inside the area and from distance with an accurate and powerful shot.[208][469] He is also an accurate penalty kick and set piece specialist, who is renowned for his powerful, bending free kicks.[470] His height, strength, jumping ability and heading technique have given him an edge in winning aerial challenges for balls, with many of his goals often being headers.[464][471] He is also known for his stamina, and in particular, his great pace and acceleration, both with and without the ball; in 2014 he was named one of the fastest football players in the world.[472]

Following his arrival at Manchester United, Ronaldo underwent a major body transformation, from a slender youth to an athletically built adult. His well-built, muscular body type allows him to retain possession of the ball.[473] Some figures in football, such as Mike Clegg (former Manchester United strength and conditioning coach) and French great Zinedine Zidane, have praised Ronaldo's work ethic and dedication to improvement on the training field.[474][475] His drive and determination is fuelled by a desire to carve his name in history alongside footballing legends such as Pelé and Diego Maradona,[476] but he has also stated that he would rather be remembered as a role model than one of world football's best players.[477]

Ronaldo controlling the ball on his chest during a La Liga game against UD Almería

Ronaldo has also undergone several tactical evolutions throughout his career. While at Sporting Lisbon, and during his first season at Manchester United, in his youth, he was deployed as a traditional winger, on the right side of midfield, although he would occasionally drift into the centre or switch onto the left wing. In this position, he was able to use his pace, agility, quick feet, and technical skills to take on opponents in one on one situations, often displaying creativity and an array of tricks and feints, such as stepovers; after beating defenders on the wing, he would subsequently play accurate curling crosses into the penalty area.[464] He often undertook individual dribbling runs during his youth.[468] Despite his talent, he was also criticised at times by manager Alex Ferguson, team mates and media for being selfish or overly flamboyant.[478][479] During the next few seasons, however, Ronaldo developed into more of a team player, and his work-rate, strength, and ability to find the net with more consistency improved drastically on the left wing, where he was able to participate in build-up plays, and move into the centre to take shots on goal, after beating defenders. He also began to play a more creative role for his team, functioning as a playmaker at times due to his vision and passing ability.[468] During the 2006–07 season, he managed 19 assists in all competitions.[480] In his final seasons at Manchester United, he began to play an even more prolific, attacking, and central role, playing both as a striker and as a supporting forward, or even as an attacking midfielder on occasion.[468]

Ronaldo in action with Portugal in 2012

At Real Madrid, Ronaldo continued to play a more offensive role for his team, shown by his record breaking goalscoring feats, while his creative and defensive duties became more limited.[468] He also became a more efficient and consistent player at Real Madrid where he was also able to excel due to their counter-attacking style of play.[481] While he was initially deployed as a centre-forward, he was later moved back onto the left wing, but in a free tactical role, which made it harder for defenders to track his runs Into the penalty area, allowing him to find the back of the net more often.[482][483]


Despite receiving acclaim for his skill and prolific goalscoring, Ronaldo has at times been criticised for diving when tackled, about which his former Real Madrid manager José Mourinho responded: "Cristiano is a player who does not have the culture of the swimming pool, he has no culture of simulation, he is a British-trained player, Ferguson trained. In some cases, the simulators are given more protection, and those who are honest are often the losers. I'm not a hypocrite if I say that they [defenders] hit Cristiano very hard, and that the yellow cards do not arrive or are slow in coming".[484]

Earlier in his career, Ronaldo had occasionally been criticised for being a "selfish" or overly flamboyant player;[478] he had also been described as having an "arrogant image" on the field, with Ronaldo stating that he had become a "victim", because of how he was portrayed in the media.[485] He is often seen moaning, gesticulating and scowling while trying to inspire his team to victory, with Ronaldo insisting that his competitive nature should not be mistaken for arrogance.[485] His managers, team-mates and various journalists have commented that this reputation has caused an unfair image of him.[468][486][487][488][489][490][491] In 2014, Ronaldo told France Football that he had made a "mistake" when he said in 2011, "People are jealous of me as I am young handsome and rich", adding that he had matured since then and fans understood him better.[492]

Widely regarded as one of the two best players in the world within his generation (the other being Lionel Messi),[493][494] and as one of the best players to ever play the game,[495] Ronaldo's talent, skill and consistent goalscoring ability have led him to be considered a decisive player, who stands out in games, and who can be a match changer.[496]

"Maturity brings many things. When I went to see them play against City, some of his decision-making in terms of passing was brilliant. One-touch passing, good crosses. In the six years we had him, you just saw his game grow all the time, and he was a fantastic player. Now you see the complete player. His decision-making, his maturity, his experience, plus all the great skills he has got, they all make him the complete player".[497]
— Alex Ferguson on the 27-year-old Ronaldo, January 2013

Comparisons to Lionel Messi

Ronaldo with Lionel Messi before an international friendly between Portugal and Argentina in Geneva, Switzerland, on 9 February 2011

Both players have scored in two Ayrton Senna-Alain Prost rivalry from Formula One.[499][500]

"It's part of my life now. People are bound to compare us. He tries to do his best for his club and for his national team, as I do, and there is a degree of rivalry with both of us trying to do the best for the teams we represent."

—Cristiano Ronaldo commenting on his rivalry with Messi.[501]

Some commentators choose to analyse the differing physiques and playing styles of the two,[502] while part of the debate revolves around the contrasting personalities of the two players: Ronaldo is sometimes depicted as an arrogant and theatrical showoff, while Messi is portrayed as a shy, humble character.[503][504][505][506]

In a 2012 interview, Ronaldo commented on the rivalry, saying "I think we push each other sometimes in the competition, this is why the competition is so high",[507] while Ronaldo's manager during his time at Manchester United, Alex Ferguson, opined that "I don't think the rivalry against each other bothers them. I think they have their own personal pride in terms of wanting to be the best".[508] Messi himself denied any rivalry, saying that it was "only the media, the press, who wants us to be at loggerheads but I've never fought with Cristiano".[509] Responding to the claims that he and Messi do not get on well on a personal level, Ronaldo commented; "We don't have a relationship outside the world of football, just as we don't with a lot of other players", before adding that in years to come he hopes they can laugh about it together, stating; "We have to look on this rivalry with a positive spirit, because it's a good thing."[501] Representing arch rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, the two players face each other at least twice every season in the world's biggest club game, El Clásico, which had a global audience of 400 million viewers in March 2014.[510]

Outside football

Personal life

Ronaldo during his spell at Real Madrid

Ronaldo's father, José Dinis Aveiro, died of an alcoholism-related liver condition at the age of 52 in September 2005 when Ronaldo was 20.[511][512] Ronaldo has said that he does not drink alcohol and he received libel damages over a Daily Mirror article that reported him drinking heavily in a nightclub while recovering from an injury in July 2008.[513]

In October 2005, a month after his father died, Ronaldo was arrested on suspicion of raping a woman in a London hotel and released on bail.[514] Ronaldo denied the allegations and charges were dropped by Scotland Yard in November 2005 due to "insufficient evidence". Ronaldo issued a statement saying: "I have always strongly maintained my innocence of any wrong-doing and I am glad that this matter is at an end so that I can concentrate on playing for Manchester United".[515]

Ronaldo became a father on 17 June 2010 following the birth of a son.[516] The child, named Cristiano, and nicknamed by the family 'Cristianinho',[517] was born in the United States,[518] and Ronaldo announced that he had full custody.[519] Ronaldo has never publicly revealed the identity of his son's mother.[520]

Ronaldo has previously dated English models Alice Goodwin[521] and Gemma Atkinson. In 2010, he began dating Russian model Irina Shayk, who he allegedly met through their Armani Exchange campaigns.[522] The couple ended their relationship in January 2015.[523] He is a Roman Catholic.[524] Ronaldo does not have tattoos as it would prevent him from donating blood, which he does several times a year.[525] In August 2015, Ronaldo bought an $18.5 million loft in Trump Tower in New York City.[526]


Television footage of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami showed an eight-year-old boy survivor named Martunis wearing a No. 7 Portuguese football shirt who was stranded for 19 days after his family was killed. Following this, Ronaldo visited Aceh, Indonesia, to raise funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction.[527][528] After accepting undisclosed damages from a libel case against The Sun newspaper in 2008, Ronaldo donated the damages to a charity in Madeira.[529] In 2009, Ronaldo donated £100,000 to the hospital that saved his mother's life in Madeira following her battle with cancer, so that they could build a cancer centre on the island.[530] In support of the victims of the 2010 Madeira flood, Ronaldo pledged to play in a charity match in Madeira between the Primeira Liga club FC Porto and players from Madeiran-based clubs Marítimo and Nacional.[531]

In 2012, Ronaldo and his agent paid for specialist treatment for a nine-year-old Canarian boy with apparently terminal cancer.[532] In November 2012, Ronaldo sold the golden boot he had won in 2011 for €1.5 million and gave the money to fund schools for children in Gaza.[533] In December 2012, Ronaldo joined FIFA's '11 for Health' programme to raise awareness amongst kids of how to steer clear of conditions including drug addiction, HIV, malaria and obesity.[534][535]

In January 2013, Ronaldo became mangrove conservation.[537]

In November 2014, Ronaldo appeared in FIFA's "11 against Ebola" campaign with a selection of top football players from around the world, including Neymar, Gareth Bale, Xavi and African superstar Didier Drogba.[538] Under the slogan "Together, we can beat Ebola", FIFA's campaign was done in conjunction with the Confederation of African Football and health experts, with the players holding up eleven messages to raise awareness of the disease and ways to combat it.[538]


In May 2014, Forbes ranked Ronaldo first in their list of the world's highest paid football players, with earnings of $73 million in combined income from salaries, bonuses and off-field earnings for the previous 12 months.[539]

On the most recently published ranking of 'The World's Highest-Paid Athletes' by Forbes, Cristiano Ronaldo was second (behind boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr.) with total earnings of $80 million over a 12-month period.[540]


One of the most marketable athletes on the planet, Ronaldo has signed many endorsement deals as his reputation rapidly grew from his time at Manchester United.[541][542] In October 2009, Ronaldo was named the new "spokesmodel" for Emporio Armani men's underwear and jeans.[543] In February 2010, he re-upped his endorsement contract with American sportswear company Nike until 2014.[544]

He has worn Nike Mercurial boots his entire career,[545] alternating between the Vapor & Superfly models depending on which is the top tier Nike boot at the time. Since 2010 Nike have created signature Ronaldo boots, the first the Superfly II Safari CR7,[546] and the latest in 2014 the Mercurial Superfly CR7.[547] Ronaldo's other endorsement deals include Coca-Cola, Castrol, Konami, Banco Espirito Santo, Motorola, Jacob & Co, KFC, Tag Heuer, Fly Emirates, Samsung, Sacoor Brothers, Herbalife and Pokerstars.[542][548][549][550][551][552][553]


In 2006, Ronaldo opened a fashion boutique under the name "CR7" (his initials and shirt number) on the island of Madeira, Portugal. Ronaldo expanded his business with a second clothes boutique in Lisbon in 2008. The stores include diamond-studded belts, jeans with leather pockets and patented buckled loafers. The store also sells slinky outfits for women.[554]

In 2013, in partnership with Danish company JBS Textile Group and the New York fashion designer Richard Chai, Ronaldo co-designed a range of underwear.[555] He later grew his CR7 fashion brand by launching a line of premium shirts[556] and shoes.[557] In June 2015, Ronaldo announced that he would be releasing his fragrance later in the summer.[558]


Ronaldo's autobiography, titled Moments, was published in December 2007.[559] In June 2010, during the build-up to the World Cup, Ronaldo became the fourth footballer – after Steven Gerrard, Pelé and David Beckham – to be represented as a waxwork at Madame Tussauds London.[560] In December 2013, the Madrid Wax Museum represented a waxwork of Ronaldo.[561] Ronaldo is sponsored by the U.S. sportswear company Nike and features in their television advertisements.[562]

Ronaldo was featured on the front cover of the video games FIFA Street 2 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. He was later featured on the cover of Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 and was involved in promotional campaigns for the game.[563] In December 2011, Ronaldo launched an iPhone game called Heads Up with Cristiano. The game is created by developer RockLive.[564] He was then the face of Pro Evolution Soccer 2013, and was also involved in the motion capturing and the trailers.[565] Ronaldo also features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series as well as the spin-off franchise FIFA Street, appearing in every game since FIFA Football 2004. The series features Ronaldo's "Thigh Flex" (FIFA 13), "The Bear" (FIFA 14), "Calm Down" (FIFA 14) and "Right Here Right Now" (FIFA 15) celebrations.[566]

In August 2010, Ronaldo became the first sportsperson to reach 50 million followers on Facebook;[567] In October 2014, Ronaldo became the first sportsperson, and the second person after Shakira, to reach 100 million followers on Facebook.[568] He also tops the list of most-followed athletes on Twitter with over 30 million followers.[568] According to Forbes, Ronaldo had the 5th highest social rank in the world in 2012, bettered only by Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry.[569] He is the most-followed footballer on Instagram with 33.6 million as of October 2015, ahead of Neymar's 33.3 million.[570]

In September 2011, Ronaldo's physical performance was subject to scrutiny by world media, after Castrol released a television film named Ronaldo: Tested to the Limit where he was tested in several fields, including mental and physical tests.[571] In July 2012, computer security company McAfee produced a report ranking footballers by the probability of an internet search for their name leading to an unsafe website. Ronaldo's name led the list.[572]

The opening of the Cristiano Ronaldo Museum, "CR7", in Funchal, Madeira, on 15 December 2013

In 2012, SportsPro rated Ronaldo as the fifth most marketable athlete in the world,[573] but he slipped to eighth position in 2013 with Brazilian star Neymar topping both lists.[574] A January 2014 report on the market value of Lionel Messi rated Messi as "five times more marketable" than Ronaldo.[575] In May 2014, international sports market research company Repucom named Ronaldo the most marketable football player in the world.[576]

In December 2013, Ronaldo opened a museum, Museu CR7, in his hometown of Funchal, to house trophies and memorabilia of his life and playing career,[577] and launched a dedicated social networking website and mobile app.[578]

At a ceremony held at the Belém Palace in January 2014, President of Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva raised Ronaldo to the rank of Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry, "to distinguish an athlete of world renown who has been a symbol of Portugal globally, contributing to the international projection of the country and setting an example of tenacity for future generations".[579] In April 2014, he was named in the Time 100, Time Magazine‍ '​s annual list of the most influential people in the world.[580]

In May 2014, Ronaldo appeared with his then-Russian model girlfriend Irina Shayk on the front cover of Vogue's Spanish edition.[581] A bronze statue of Ronaldo, designed by artist Ricardo Madeira Veloso, was unveiled in his hometown of Funchal on the island of Madeira on 21 December 2014.[582][583]

A 2014 documentary, Cristiano Ronaldo: The World at his Feet, narrated by the actor Benedict Cumberbatch, was released via Vimeo and Vision Films.[584] A documentary film about his life and career, titled Ronaldo, is in post-production. Directed by BAFTA-winner Anthony Wonke, the film is produced and distributed by Universal Pictures, while Asif Kapadia is the executive producer.[585]

CR7 galaxy

In June 2015, astronomers led by David Sobral from Lisbon and Leiden discovered a galaxy which they named CR7 (Cosmos Redshift 7) in tribute to Cristiano Ronaldo in reference to his CR7 mantle (his initials and shirt number).[586][587]

Career statistics


As of 31 October 2015
Club statistics
Club Season League Cup[1] League Cup Europe Other[2] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Sporting CP 2002–03[588] Primeira Liga 25 3 3 2 3[3] 0 0 0 31 5
Total 25 3 3 2 3 0 0 0 31 5
Manchester United[589] 2003–04 Premier League 29 4 5 2 1 0 5[4] 0 0 0 40 6
2004–05 33 5 7 4 2 0 8[4] 0 0 0 50 9
2005–06 33 9 2 0 4 2 8[4] 1 47 12
2006–07 34 17 7 3 1 0 11[4] 3 53 23
2007–08 34 31 3 3 0 0 11[4] 8 1[5] 0 49 42
2008–09 33 18 2 1 4 2 12[4] 4 2[6] 1 53 26
Total 196 84 26 13 12 4 55 16 3 1 292 118
Real Madrid 2009–10[590] La Liga 29 26 0 0 6[4] 7 35 33
2010–11[591] 34 40[7] 8 7 12[4] 6 54 53
2011–12[592] 38 46 5 3 10[4] 10 2 1 55 60
2012–13[593] 34 34 7 7 12[4] 12 2 2 55 55
2013–14[594] 30 31 6 3 11[4] 17 47 51
2014–15[595] 35 48 2 1 12[4] 10 5 2 54 61
2015–16 10 8 0 0 3 5 13 13
Total 210 233 28 21 66 67 9 5 313 326
Career total 431 320 57 36 12 4 124 83 12 6 636 449
  1. ^ Includes the Taça de Portugal, FA Cup and Copa del Rey
  2. ^ Includes the FA Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and Supercopa de España
  3. ^ one appearance in UEFA Champions League, two appearances in UEFA Cup
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l All appearance(s) in UEFA Champions League
  5. ^ Appearance in FA Community Shield
  6. ^ All appearances in FIFA Club World Cup
  7. ^ Does not include one goal scored on 18 September 2010 against Real Sociedad. Marca, which awards the Pichichi Trophy, attribute it to Ronaldo, while La Liga and UEFA attribute it to Pepe.[239]


Ronaldo (left) playing against Argentina in Geneva, Switzerland on 9 February 2011
As of 8 October 2015.[3][596][597]
National team Year Apps Goals
Portugal 2003 2 0
2004 16 7
2005 11 2
2006 14 6
2007 10 5
2008 8 1
2009 7 1
2010 11 3
2011 8 7
2012 13 5
2013 9 10
2014 9 5
2015 5 3
Total 123 55



Manchester United[598]
Real Madrid[598]


Ronaldo presenting his second FIFA Ballon d'Or to fans at the Santiago Bernabéu in January 2015



(As of 24 October 2015)



  • Most goals scored in European competitions (club football): 85 goals[615][616][617]
  • Most goals scored in the UEFA Champions League: 82 goals[618]
  • Most goals scored in a UEFA Champions League/European Cup season: 17 goals in 2013–14[619]
  • Most goals scored in the UEFA Champions League group stage: 9 goals in 2013–14 (shared with Luiz Adriano)[312]
  • Most goals scored in UEFA Champions League knockout phase: 39 goals
  • Most UEFA Champions League goals scored in a calendar year: 15 goals in 2013[620]
  • Only footballer to have won the European Golden Shoe in two different leagues: English Premier League (2007–08) and Spanish La Liga (2010–11, 2013–14, 2014–15) [621]
  • Most goals scored in the UEFA European Championship, including qualifying: 26 goals, for Portugal[462]
  • First footballer to ever score 10 goals in four consecutive UEFA Champions League seasons: 2011–12 to 2014–15[622]
  • Only footballer to score for two different winning teams in the European Cup: Manchester United (2007–08) and Real Madrid (2013–14)[623]
  • Most away goals scored in Champions League history: 41 goals[624]
  • Most consecutive UEFA Champions League away games scored in: 12
  • Most wins in the UEFA Champions League Knockout phase: 28 wins
  • Most braces scored in the UEFA Champions League: 20
  • Most consecutive UEFA Champions League matches scored in: 8 matches in 2013–14[625]
  • Most European Golden Shoe awards: 4[621]
  • Most UEFA Team of the Year appearances: 9 times[626]
  • Most consecutive appearances in the UEFA Team of the Year: 8 (2007–2014)[627]
  • Only player to be among the finalists for all the editions of the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award: 2010–11 to 2014–15[628]


  • Most hat-tricks in La Liga history: 28[629]
  • Fastest La Liga player to score 150 league goals[630]
  • Fastest La Liga player to score 200 league goals[15]
  • Most consecutive Clásicos matches scored in: 6 matches[631]
  • Best scoring start in a Spanish league season: 15 goals in eight rounds[361]
  • Fastest footballer to score 20 league goals: 12 games (missed one game due to injury)[632]
  • Only player to reach 30 goals in five consecutive La Liga seasons[633]
  • Most teams scored against in a season (2012/13): 19 (shared with Ronaldo and Lionel Messi)[634]
  • Most La Liga hat-tricks in a season: 8 hat-tricks (shared with Lionel Messi)[635]
  • Most hat-tricks scored in all competitions: 33[636]

Real Madrid

  • Real Madrid Record Goalscorer: 326 goals[637]
  • Top goalscorer in La Liga: 233 goals[638]
  • Fastest player to reach 50 league goals[639]
  • Fastest player to reach 100 league goals[640]
  • Fastest player to reach 200 official goals[641]
  • Most goals scored in seven consecutive league matches: 15 goals[363]
  • First player to score in eight consecutive matchdays[642]
  • Most hat-tricks in Real Madrid's history: 33[636]
  • Real Madrid Record Goalscorer in UEFA Champions League: 67 goals
  • Real Madrid Record Goalscorer in European Competitions: 69 goals*


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  630. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo is the player who hits the 150 goal mark the fastest in Liga history". Real Madrid C.F. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  631. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo is the first player to score in six consecutive Clasicos". 8 October 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  632. ^ "The quickest to hit the 20 mark". (English). 26 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  633. ^ "Another Record For Ronaldo". Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  634. ^ "Leo Messi's record-breaking run". 30 March 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  635. ^ 2014–15 La Liga#Hat-tricks
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  640. ^ "Fastest player to score 100 goals in La Liga with Real Madrid". Real Madrid C.F. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
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  642. ^ "Ronaldo, the first Madrid player to score in eight consecutive matchdays". Real Madrid C.F. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Real Madrid official profile
  • Cristiano Ronaldo – UEFA competition record
  • Cristiano Ronaldo – FIFA competition record
  • Cristiano Ronaldo at
  • Cristiano Ronaldo career statistics at Soccerbase
  • BDFutbol profile