That being said, when he signed his new deal in 2016, Ronaldo said that ideally he wanted to sign another contract that would keep him at Real Madrid until he was 41, after which he’d call it a career.
But no matter what anyone thinks of his decision to switch continents, his loyalty to his family is unwavering.
Ronaldo is the youngest of four, born Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro in the city of Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira to José Dinis Aveiro, a municipal gardener and equipment manager for the local team CF Andorinha, and Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro, who worked as a cook. As a little boy he kicked a soccer ball around in the street, as so many kids start out doing, and when he was 7 he joined his first youth team at his father’s urging.
In a 2017 essay for The Players’ Tribune, Ronaldo remembered his father, who died in 2005 at the age of 52, always attending his games alone because his mother and sisters had no interest in football. But finally, one day, they showed up.
“Life was a struggle back then in Madeira,” he recalled. “I was playing in whatever old boots my brother passed down to me or my cousins gave me. But when you’re a kid, you don’t care about money. You care about a certain feeling. And on that day, this feeling, it was very strong. I felt protected and loved. In Portuguese, we say menino querido da família.“