LeBron James may be the greatest athlete in the world but Cristiano Ronaldo is hands down the biggest name in sports on a global scale. He started his semi-professional career at the age of 14, while making it to a professional team in a youth team at the ripe age of 16. A year later, he made his debut in one of the 10 top soccer leagues in Europe and never looked back. Ronaldo quickly rose to the highest level of the game, where he has remained for over a decade.
The Portuguese footballer has wowed fans everywhere, while befuddling defenders and maintaining the highest level of professionalism on and off the field. In this piece, we will highlight why CR7 is an incredible role model to follow for young soccer players, young professionals, children and even adults. Ronaldo had to overcome all the odds that were stacked against him in order to become the athlete and man he is today, and he makes no apologies for it. We may not reach the footballing heights that he has, but perhaps looking at what Ronaldo does on a day-to-day basis could go a long way into helping us soar to the tip of whatever we put our minds to.
15 He is Charismatic
The Real Madrid forward is loved by his teammates due to his easygoing nature and his ability on the field. Over the years, he has inspired soccer players around the world to play the game with a certain degree of swagger, intimidating and unsettling opponents with his exuberant movement on and off the ball, drawing hate from his critics and praise from his fans. He is also a sweet talker, occasionally convincing refs to call a foul they didn’t initially see.
Off the field, he doesn’t fare too bad as he has dated some of the most beautiful and classiest ladies in the world, including supermodel Irina Shayk, Brazil TV personality Andressa Urach, reality star Kim Kardashian, trust-fund queen Paris Hilton and the list goes on. The fact that he has made so many enemies over the years goes to show how much people envy him, even if they wouldn’t like to admit it. The one thing no one can deny is that they want CR7 on their side rather than against them.
14 He is Well-Groomed
Look, not everyone is going to look like Cristiano Ronaldo, regardless of how often they go to the gym, how much hair product they spray on, how many tanning beds they try out and how many socks they stuff in their underwear. However, what the athlete offers with his look is one impeccable taste and presentation. He has made the GQ cover before, and in one feature he sported a $1,700 jacket and $600 jeans designed by Dior, along with $165 shoes from his own brand: CR7 footwear.
The magazine follows him as he goes about his day, showing off his collection of figurative paintings alongside his pristine pool. He proceeds to put on his athletic attire, rolling up his shorts in order to be more aerodynamic on the field. His hair looks perfect, and his eyebrows and lashes aren’t far behind. Some see it as vanity, but what Ronaldo is emitting with this look is confidence and the highest of standards when it comes to his appearance. It is in our nature to judge a book by its cover whether we like it or not as our subconscious begins to form an image of who a person is before we get to know them. And if you’re not convinced about the man behind the tan, keep on reading.
13 He is Not Afraid to Make a Fool of Himself
Ronaldo changed his appearance down by dressing as an overweight, older man with a thick beard walking down the streets of Madrid who happens to be OK at soccer. He pulls out a ball, starts playing on the streets against strangers and absolutely dominates them with his skills. Quickly, a crowd gather round and witness the mystery man’s chops. After a few minutes, he takes off his prosthetics and reveals who it is, sharing laughs and hugs as he takes selfies with fans.
You could argue that he was showing off for that prank, but there have been other situations in which he was completely taken by surprise and made to look like an idiot. He walks over to grab his new boots at the Portuguese national team’s clubhouse and out comes teammate Ricardo Quaresma, jumping out of the table and scaring the living crap out of Ronaldo. He laughs and hugs the prankster, showcasing his sense of humor and friendly disposition. The athlete has no problem taking pictures with fans in public even though it takes up a chunk of his time, proving there’s time to do it all in this life.
12 He Overcame a Life-Threatening Illness
He almost never made it as a footballer due to the fact that Ronaldo had a major heart condition early in his life. The winger was 15 years old when doctors diagnosed him with an illness that threatened his career and life due to the fact that his heartbeat was greater than most. If left untreated, such a condition can cause seizures, losses of consciousness and perhaps even a heart attack. However, the condition only proved that Ronaldo’s heart is stronger than most.
Ronaldo received treatment with a catheter ablation, which consisted of a wire being inserted through his leg to the area of the heart that causes the imperfection. Surgery was risky but it was the only way, and doctors were able to save CR7’s before anyone knew what the man was capable of. It was only one year later that he broke through to the professional level of the game.
11 He is Loved Everywhere He Goes
Since CR7 left Manchester United in 2009 to join Real Madrid’s ranks, the winger is constantly being linked back to his former club. Every single summer, the same rumor of Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford where he was to be reunited with Sir Alex Ferguson (before the coach left) seemed to dominate the back pages, and for good reason. He left a void in the front of the park with the Red Devils that they have been unable to fill even though it’s been seven and a half years. He scored a whopping 118 goals in his six years in England.
Before United, he played for Portuguese side Sporting CP, where the locals have a glimmer of hope that Ronaldo will one day return due to his love for his country. In 2004, Ronaldo lost the European Championship in the final with his beloved Iberian nation. He cried on the field, helping fellow Portuguese citizens to mourn what could’ve been. Since then, the athlete has done nothing but express his undying love for his country, as well as the promise that he would one day win them a big one. But more on that later.
10 He Has Top-Notch Skills
Some have referred to Ronaldo’s flawless game as poetry in motion—a form of artistry that can only be matched by the likes of Lionel Messi, as well as Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona and Pele before him. However, the way CR7 plays his game is unlike any other player the world has ever seen as he is capable of sprinting from one end of the pitch to the other with the ball, performing step-overs that baffle defenders as he appears to glide above ground with gravity eluding him.
Cristiano is very creative at scoring goals too, banging in headers with his sharp-razor focus, finding dozens of different way of tapping the ball in, shooting from distance, back-heel flicks, and even one outrageous goal where he ran against the goal with the ball, then stepped in front of the ball, kicked backwards with his heel and scored, beating the goalkeeper and several defenders who were stunned by the motion.
9 He Can Score a Penalty
The spot kick or penalty in soccer is one of the easiest to do in the sport from a technical level, but it is extremely hard to succeed at scoring one from a psychological level. An average of 74% of penalties in the professional game are scored, which is not that much considering you can place the ball either in the middle, top-right, top-left, bottom-right or bottom-left of the goal and score. The goalkeeper can only jump to one side, and even if he guesses right, there’s a large chance it will still be a goal.
Ronaldo’s penalty numbers are astronomical as he hit his 100th career penalty last March. The kick was also his 86th successful strike, giving him an 86% success rate in these opportunities. CR7 has ice in his veins as he stares down the opposition, picks his spot without revealing where he is going, and smashes it far into the corners of the goal, making it impossible for goalkeepers to save. In some cases, he even chips it down the middle to fool the goalkeeper and he usually beats out the keeper.
8 He Can Shoot a Free-Kick
The Portuguese stallion may be an impressive penalty kicker, but his real trademark is his free-kick shooting ability. Cristiano has cemented his place in soccer lore as one of the greatest shooters of free kick in the game. He is equipped with a diverse and effective arsenal of shots that makes it difficult for keepers to predict where he is going. Taking a free kick is especially hard as he is shooting from distance, where he has to beat a wall of defenders and a goalkeeper.
Ronaldo has hit dozens of bullets from free kicks, many of which are lasers that hit the perfect spot on the goal, making plenty of keepers flinch. In a couple of cases, he has struck the ball from 40 yards out and scored. CR7 can also curl the ball around the goal and into the net, giving off the illusion that the ball won’t go in. But his real trademark is his knuckled strikes, which start off high in the air without any rotation on the ball, then sink violently with the ball spinning uncontrollably in the same manner baseball pitchers have knuckleballs.
7 He is Not as Selfish as People Say
The argument of who is better between Messi and Ronaldo is tired and unnecessary as they are different players who possess different skill sets and excel at their craft. However, one reason why Messi fans sometimes hate on Cristiano has to do with the argument that he is selfish and he is only trying to score goals to boost his stats. However, the statistics tell a different story.
Ronaldo has provided his teammates with 189 assists in 567 games, amounting to one assists every three games, or 33.33% of the time. In comparison, Messi has 223 assists in 663 games, which is only a tick higher at 33.63% of games he plays. CR7’s passing ability comes in a variety of manners as he will offer off the ball in a straight line, ahead of his teammate so they can make a run for it, back-heeled to keep defenders on their toes and even crosses towards a teammate’s head with the hopes of assisting them.
6 He Loves to Win
It is no secret that Cristiano loves to win and hates to lose. Much like most super-competitive and ultra-successful athletes in the world, the Madeira native’s first and foremost goal on the soccer pitch is to win games. Through his leadership, talent and unrelenting work ethic, CR7 has won some of the world’s biggest titles at the club and international level, beginning with his days at Manchester United.
In 2008, Cristiano and the Red Devils won the UEFA Champions League, the most prestigious award in club football as he scored an insane 8 goals in 11 appearances in that competition. He won the word twice again with Real Madrid, in 2014 where he scored an unbelievable 17 goals in 11 games, and 2016 where his goal tally reached 16 in 12 games. He also won league titles with both clubs, but his crowning achievement has to be the 2016 European Cup that he won with Portugal. The Iberian side was not given a chance in hell to come anywhere near the final of the competition, but somehow they beat the opposition and won in the final against France. While Ronaldo didn’t play in the final due to injury, he was integral to Portugal’s success throughout the competition.
5 He Apologizes For His Mistakes
One of Ronaldo’s biggest flaws is the fact that he sometimes elevates himself to dizzying heights, perhaps because he is a perfectionist and expects the best out of his teammates. In one incident, the Real Madrid forward criticized his teammates after a loss to city rivals Atletico Madrid. He said the team would’ve won if his teammates had been at his level. Cristiano extended the criticism to the rest of the club, putting down its medics and the manager. He soon apologized for this unwarranted flak, acknowledging that everyone is trying their best to help the team win.
He also apologized to fellow Euro 2016 player Antoine Griezmann after beating the Frenchman to the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2016. These comments were either a genuine expression of UEFA getting the vote wrong (as Griezmann’s numbers were through the roof in the tournament), or a piece of playful banter to ramp up the rivalry between their two clubs (Griezmann plays for Atletico). Either way, what a legend.
4 He Respects his Peers and Elders
Although Ronaldo won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2016, he publicly stated that teammate and defender Pepe should’ve won the award due to his indomitable defending throughout the course of European Cup. Pepe also plays for Real Madrid, playing a similar role to help the club win the Champions League. The bond that the two have has long-been touted as a “bromance,” due to the inspiring nature of their friendship.
CR7 has also spoke highly of his mentors, especially Sir Alex Ferguson who helped to make him the man he is today. The former Manchester United coach was at the helm throughout Ronaldo’s time in England. The athlete has spoken highly of the man who he called a father figure to him, and the two basked on a warm embrace during the most recent European Cup. Former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho and Ronaldo have had a contentious relationship at times, but the Portuguese has spoken highly of his former manager’s mind. "I have played for so many great coaches, but José Mourinho was a big thinker analytically, he went into everything in great detail,”Ronaldo said.
3 He is a Consummate Professional
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Ronaldo’s character is how hard he works every single day. The athlete’s workout routine requires great discipline as he is always at the best shape he can be. His exercises are long and intense, helping to tone his lean and flexible muscles. His workouts vary from day to day, including cardio, sprinting, technical drills, gym resistance sessions, amounting to 3 or 4 hours a day. Beyond that, he also has to train with the team.
For example, his Friday routine consists of three sets of arm deadlifts, three sets of leg deadlifts, three sets of knee tuck jumps, three sets of overhead slams, two sets of one leg barbell squats and three sets of hanging leg raises. Additionally, his diet consists of lean meats, protein shakes, plenty of vegetables split between six small meals a day. And he doesn’t eat sugary food.
2 He is a Good Father and Friend Above All
Cristiano Ronaldo never knew his father too well because he was an alcoholic, but the athlete has made sure that his son does not grow up the same way he did. The athlete has a six-year-old son who lives with him and Ronaldo raises him on his own. The two are often seen having a laugh in his Instagram account. He has also been great to the rest of his family, sending money home to his mother and the rest of his family.
Everyone knows about all the superstar friends that Ronaldo has, but the athlete has stayed true to his roots, often returning to his hometown of Madeira and taking his childhood friends out for food, bars and other social events. Although Cristiano may sometimes come off as conceited, his oldest friends speak highly of Ronaldo’s giving nature and his humility. Due to a medical issue, his mother almost died but a Madeira hospital saved her life. Thanks to these actions, Ronaldo donated 100,000 pounds (roughly $124,910) to the hospital that saved her.
1 He Gives Back to his Community, and the Rest of the World
One of the most charitable athletes in the world has to be Cristiano Ronaldo. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, a boy was shown on television wearing a Ronaldo jersey. His family was killed, and Ronaldo responded to the tragedy by visiting the kid in Indonesia, helping to raise funds to ameliorate the situation. He has given millions of euros back to charities in Madeira, and he played a charity match in support of the 2010 Madeira flood.
CR7 also helped a boy with terminal cancer get treatment, while also fighting against HIV, drug addiction, child hunger, Ebola, obesity and many other causes. He is constantly working, constantly battling to help those in need without forgetting where he comes from. Whether it be charitable donations, personal visits to victims of natural disasters or charity matches in his hometown, Cristiano Ronaldo is constantly looking for new and creative ways to make the world a better place, and there is plenty we can all learn from him.