He was born Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro on February 5th, 1985. Cristiano was the youngest of four children. His mother Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro was a cook and his father José Dinis Aveiro, a gardener. The family lived in a dilapidated shack in the working class district of Funchal in Madeira. The name Ronaldo came about because the young boy’s father was a big fan of actor, later to be become President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan.
As a boy Cristiano Ronaldo supported Benfica who were the arch-rivals of the team he later played for. He was absolutely obsessed with football and even played and practiced with fruit if there was no football available. He would sometimes lie about his homework just to play football a bit longer.
Ronaldo’s first club was an amateur side Andorinha. His father was kit man for the club. Ronaldo’s determination to succeed was such that he would sometimes burst into tears if he misplaced a pass or gave the ball away. However, his talent was immediately apparent, and two local professional clubs, CS Maritimo and CD Nacional were eager to sign the ten year old Ronaldo. He spent two years with Nacional helping them win the title in his second season. It was then that Sporting Lisbon offered the young Ronaldo a trial. This meant that the young footballer had to live away from his parents as he had to go and stay in Lisbon. However he wanted to experience better coaching and develop as a player with a bigger club.
Sporting Lisbon have some of the world’s best facilities for young players. Here Ronaldo thrived and managed to impress his fellow players with his skills. At the end of one game his teammates swarmed round to congratulate the talented player, such was his impact on the game. He was often teased because of his Madeiran accent, but it only served to make him stand up for himself. Jose Mourinho watched Ronaldo play for Sporting Lisbon’s youth team and was amazed at his skill, and speed and his technique.
It was here that he started to perfect his trademark ’stepover’ trick. In one season Ronaldo developed through the Under 16s, Under 17s, Under 18s, B-team and then first team, such was the speed that he was developing at. He scored three times in twenty five games during his first two seasons. However, his main chance came during a friendly against Manchester United. He terrorized United’s players down the wing to such an extent that at half time United’s players were asking Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him. This happened soon after and Cristiano Ronaldo was on a journey that would see him crowned FIFA 2008 World Player of the Year.