Ronaldo Reveals Inspirational Story Behind His Success: How His Father Sparked His Passion and Daily Pursuit of His Dream

One vivid memory from my childhood stands out clearly even now, when I was just 7 years old. Recalling it fills me with warmth, as it revolves around my family.

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He had just started playing real football. Before, I just played on the streets of Madeira with my friends. And when I say street, I don’t mean an empty road. I really mean a street. We didn’t have goals or anything and we had to stop the game every time the cars passed by. I was completely happy doing that every day, but my father was the kitman for CF Andorinha and he kept encouraging me to go play in the youth team. I knew it would make him very proud, so I went.

The first day there were a lot of rules that I didn’t understand, but I loved it. I became addicted to the structure and the feeling of winning. My father was on the sidelines of every game with his big beard and work pants. He loved it. But my mother and my sisters were not interested in football.

So every night at dinner, my dad kept trying to recruit them to come see me play. It was like he was my first agent. I remember coming home from games with him and telling me: “Cristiano scored a goal!”

They would say, “Oh, great.”

But they didn’t really get excited, you know?

Then he would come home the next time and say: “Cristiano scored two goals!”

There is still no excitement. They were just like, “Oh, that’s really nice, Cris.”

So what could I do? I kept scoring and scoring.

One night, my father came home and said: “Cristiano scored three goals! It was amazing! You have to come see him play!

But still, before every game I would look over at the bench and see my father standing there, alone. Then one day (I’ll never forget this image), I was warming up and I looked over and saw my mom and my sisters sitting together in the stands. They looked like… how do I say this? They seemed welcoming. They were packed close together and they weren’t clapping or shouting, they were just waving at me, like I was in a parade or something. They definitely looked like they had never attended a football game before. But they were there. That’s all I cared about.

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I felt so good at that moment. It meant a lot to me. It was like something changed inside me. I was really proud. At that time we didn’t have much money. Life was then a struggle in Madeira. I was playing with old boots that my brother or cousins handed down to me. But when you’re a kid, you don’t care about money. You care about a certain feeling. And that day, this feeling was very strong. I felt protected and loved. In Portuguese we say little boy dear to the family.

I look back at the memory with nostalgia, because that period of my life turned out to be short. Football gave me everything, but it also took me far from home before I was really ready. When I was 11 years old I moved from the island to the Sporting Lisbon academy and it was the most difficult time of my life.

It’s crazy for me to think about this now. My son, Cristiano Jr., is 7 years old when I write this. And I just think about how I would feel if I packed his suitcase in four years and sent him to Paris or London. It seems impossible. And I’m sure my parents found it impossible to do it with me.

But it was my chance to pursue my dream. So they let me go and I left. I cried almost every day. I was still in Portugal, but it was like moving to another country. The accent made it like a completely different language. The culture was different. I didn’t know anyone and I felt very alone. My family could only afford to come visit me about every four months. I missed them so much that every day was painful.

Football kept me going. I knew I was doing things on the field that the other kids at the academy couldn’t do. I remember the first time I heard one of the kids say to another kid, “Did you see what he did? “This guy is a beast.”

I started listening to it all the time. Even from the coaches. But there was always someone who said: “Yes, but it’s a shame it’s so small.”

And it’s true, she was skinny. He had no muscles. So I made a decision at 11 years old. I knew I had a lot of talent, but I decided I was going to work harder than everyone. I was going to stop playing like a child. He was going to stop acting like a child. I was going to train as if I could be the best in the world.

I don’t know where this feeling came from. It was right inside me. It’s like a hunger that never goes away. When you lose, it’s like you’re starving. When you win, it’s still like you’re starving, but you ate a little crumb. This is the only way I can explain it.

I started sneaking out of the bedroom at night to go exercise. I got bigger and faster. And then he walked out into the field, and the people who used to whisper, “Yeah, but he’s so skinny”? Now they would be looking at me like it was the end of the world.

When I was 15, I turned to some of my teammates during training. I remember it very clearly. I told them: “Someday I will be the best in the world.”

They were laughing a little about it. I wasn’t even in Sporting’s first team yet, but I had that conviction. I really meant it.

When I started playing professionally at 17, my mother could barely watch due to stress. She came to see me play at the old José Alvalade Stadium and got so nervous during important games that she fainted sometimes. Seriously, he fainted. The doctors started prescribing sedatives only for my games.

I told him: “Do you remember when you didn’t care about football?” ?

I started dreaming bigger and bigger. I wanted to play for the national team and I wanted to play for Manchester because I watched the Premier League on TV all the time. I was fascinated by how fast the game moved and the songs the crowd sang. The atmosphere was very moving for me. When I became a Manchester player, it was a very proud moment for me, but I think it was an even prouder moment for my family.

At first, winning trophies was very emotional for me. I remember when I won my first Champions League in Manchester, it was an overwhelming feeling. The same with my first Ballon d’Or. But my dreams continued to get bigger. That’s the point of dreams, right? I had always admired Madrid and wanted a new challenge. I wanted to win trophies at Madrid, break all records and become a club legend.

In the last eight years I have achieved incredible things in Madrid. But to be honest, winning trophies later in my career has become a different thrill. Especially in these last two years. In Madrid, if you don’t win everything, others consider you a failure. This is the expectation of greatness. This is my job.

But when you’re a parent, it’s a completely different feeling. A feeling I can’t describe. That’s why my stay in Madrid has been special. I have been a footballer, yes, but also a father.

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There is a moment with my son that I will always remember so clearly.

When I think about it, I feel warm.

It was the moment on the pitch after we won the last Champions League final in Cardiff. We made history that night. When I was on the field after the final whistle, I felt like I had sent a message to the world. But then my son came on the field to celebrate with me… and it was like a snap. Suddenly, the whole emotion changed. He was running around with Marcelo’s son. We held the trophy together. Then we walked through the field, hand in hand.

It is a joy that I did not understand until I became a father. There are so many emotions happening simultaneously that you can’t describe the feeling in words. The only thing I can compare it to is how I felt when I was warming up in Madeira and saw my mother and sister huddled together in the stands.

When we returned to the Bernabéu to celebrate, Cristiano Jr. and Marcelito were playing on the field in front of all the fans. It was a very different scene than when I played in the street at his age, but I hope the feeling for my son is the same as the one I felt for myself. Dearest child of the family.

After 400 games with Madrid, winning is still my greatest ambition. I think I was born that way. But the feeling after winning has definitely changed. This is a new chapter in my life. I had a special message engraved on my new boots. It’s right on the heel, and the words are the last thing I read before I strap them on and head to the tunnel.

It’s like a final reminder… a final motivation. It says: “The child’s dream.”

The child’s dream.

Maybe now you will understand.

In the end, of course, my mission is the same as always. I want to continue breaking records in Madrid. I want to win as many titles as possible. This is simply my nature.

But what means the most to me about my time in Madrid, and what I will tell my grandchildren when I am 95 years old, is the feeling of walking through the countryside like a champion, hand in hand with my son.

I hope we do it again.

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