Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo is a global superstar, an icon of the game and one of the greatest ever players to kick a football.
The 37-year-old has over the course of his career won numerous titles and shattered multiple personal records in his illustrious career spanning over two decades. However, it was not always easy for the Portuguese champion, who almost quit football in his early days at Sporting Lisbon.
According to a report by The Mirror, a young Ronaldo was constantly at the end of bullying and personal attacks from Sporting Lisbon fans and players who mocked him for his accent and locked him out of the team gym on more than one occasion.
The Mirror reports on these incredible Ronaldo revelations, “Ronaldo was teased for his heavy Madeiran accent by the other boys and cried every day because he missed his family and local friends. The young starlet was said to have been involved in a series of bust-ups and scrapes with other boys in the schoolyard.”
So acrimonious was Ronaldo’s time in school that he once threw a chair at one of his teachers! He was soon after allowed to drop out and focus solely on his football career.
“Sporting prevented Ronaldo from using the gym as he pleased. Therefore, he struggled to bulk up and found himself being knocked off the ball in games. Sporting had strict policies when it came to ‘children’ using the gym. They blocked youngsters from lifting weights and working out regularly as they wanted them to grow naturally.”
However, Ronaldo was not to be deterred from using the club’s gym facilities. He would often wake up in the middle of the night and sneak to the gym to lift weights. Once Sporting’s coaches found out, they gave him detention. The club went to the extent of locking the gym with a giant padlock to keep the five-time Ballon d’Or winner out.
Ronaldo got creative and started doing squats with large buckets of water in the shower. The club’s coaches also confiscated his buckets. The resilient Ronaldo resorted to strapping weights to his ankles and racing after cars – which helped to build the explosive speed he once boasted of.
As per The Mirror, the United striker used to do keepie-uppies with oranges to practise close ball control, which annoyed his coaches even more!
Ronaldo’s hard work paid off when Sir Alex Ferguson brought him to Old Trafford in 2003 for £12m. Even while at United, he struggled to impress the older players and once had a training ground bust-up with Ruud van Nistelrooy who grew frustrated at the Portuguese’s erratic and selfish nature with the ball.
Ronaldo greatly benefitted from the support of Ferguson and Carlos Queiroz who were staunch defenders of him and had immense belief in him – their faith was not misplaced.
At United, Ronaldo formed one of the deadliest partnerships with Wayne Rooney, helping the club to win numerous trophies including three consecutive Premier Leagues and a Champions League. Ronaldo also won a Ballon d’Or during his time with the Red Devils.
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