Cristiano Ronaldo tells us who he is through his body. It’s his own making, still perfect at 36: that narrow waist and impossibly straight back, the abs, the bust of a socialist realist, the standing jump of the basketball star, the faded look of the boy band singer, the heart of an Ultramarathoner that barely rises to defeat Saturday when Portugal meet the carrier The title with Germany at Euro 2020. God made his football rival Lionel Messi, but Ronaldo is proud that he made himself.
The odds were stacked against Ronaldo when he was born on the island of Madeira, the impoverished ocean of Portugal. His mother wanted an abortion, but Portuguese law did not allow it in 1985. Ronaldo later recalls that his father, a veteran of the Angolan war, was “drunk almost every day.” The unwanted child has acquired a constant need to prove his right to exist, theories of a biographer, Jean-Cys Pater.
A homesick teenager at the Sporting Academy in Lisbon has been mocked for his Madeira accent. At the age of 18, his brilliance took him to England and Manchester United. A year later, Portugal lost the 2004 European Championship final to Greece, but by that time he had already begun to reshape himself.
He was smart enough to analyze his game, and realized that his only trick – the previous move – wouldn’t make him the best player in the world. He also cannot head the ball well or take free kicks. He taught himself those skills, and through daily repetition saved a repertoire of tricks.
As a skinny sprinter, he didn’t seem destined for a long career, but through obsessive workouts – he could do 142 sit-ups in 45 seconds – he wrapped his body in muscle. Even on vacation, he constantly exercises. Ice baths and instant glow when he suspects he’s in the company of amateurs terrorizes his teammates into turning professional.
It has become a model for the Portuguese generation that emigrated after the financial crisis, said Raquel Vaz-Pinto, professor of political science at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security. She defined his message as: “If you have talent and ambition, if you sacrifice a lot, you will succeed.”
Ronaldo in numbers
The number of international goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo, outside the world record of three goals scored by Iranian Ali Daei
He won the Champions League, one with Manchester United and four with Real Madrid. He is the tournament’s top scorer
The number of followers on Instagram as of June 2021. He has more followers than any other famous person
He made himself again in 2014. Wary of chronic damage to his left knee, he transformed himself from a versatile player to an attacking midfielder who usually scores at most one touch before taking a shot. He leaves the defense to his colleagues in the personal drama.
In the Euro 2016 final, which he played in Portugal’s first grand prix, he came off injured after 25 minutes, then trained off the bench as if the coach was not there. Portugal beat France in extra time, and in his speech to the team, Ronaldo delivered the trophy above all as a personal event: “This was an award that I still miss in my career. An award that I won thanks to you.”
He won the Ballon d’Or award for best player in the world five times, compared to six times for Messi. The debate over who is the best is as ridiculous as discussing whether Michelangelo is superior to Leonardo. Personal dueling improved both players.
“Messi was good for Ronaldo and Ronaldo was good for Messi,” said Kylian Mbappe. The young French striker, considered the best player of the new generation, grew up with Ronaldo posters in his bedroom, and is believed to be no match for either man.
“If you tell yourself that you will do better than them, it is beyond ego or determination – it is a lack of awareness. These players are incomparable,” Mbabbe said In an Esquire interview this spring.
Messi and Ronaldo belong to the group of contemporary greats who have defied aging thanks to improved professionalism, nutrition and medical care: tennis stars Roger Federer and Serena Williams are both 39, while Tom Brady won the Super Bowl this year at the age of 43.
Ronaldo’s career is still intact: every defeat is a personal insult, and every teammate fails to provide him with a tragedy. He is equally ideal off the field: he helped get his brother Hugo off drugs and quietly gave to charity. Three of his four sons were born to surrogate mothers, who are not involved in raising the children, as if no single partner could meet his paternal criteria.
However, despite all his 148 million followers on Facebook, which is more than any other human being, Ronaldo’s accomplishments have not made him universally loved outside of Portugal. Unfairly, shine on demand can appear mechanical. Opposition fans taunt him with chants of “Messi!” On Tuesday, the Hungarian public tried to mistreat gays. Unfazed, he scored two goals in a 3-0 win.
At the pre-match press conference, he wiped carelessly Billions of Coca-Cola’s stock price He takes out the two Coca-Cola bottles in front of him and praises the water instead.
Ronaldo now has 106 goals in 176 caps. Leading a Portuguese team stronger than it was five years ago, Ali Daei is close to Iran’s international record of 109. And he doesn’t seem to be close to finishing.