Cristiano Ronaldo: World's Best Scorer of the 21st Century

Illustration by Jeannette Khouri

On August 27, 2021, it was a surprise for all soccer fans after it was announced that Ronaldo would head back home to Manchester United. Let's know how did his journey start before joining United and until he returned.

Ronaldo's full name is Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, known as Cristiano Ronaldo. He is a Portuguese footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester United in the English Premier League and is the captain of the Portuguese national team. He is considered the best player in the world and is considered by many to be one of the greatest players in the history of football.


Ronaldo was born on February 5, 1985, in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, a small island off the western coast of the country to Maria Dolores dos Santos and José Dinis Aveiro.  He was named after Ronald Reagan, one of his father's favorite actors.

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His father was a gardener while his mother worked as a cook. Ronaldo was the youngest child among four children; others being a son and two daughters.

His mother revealed that she wanted to abort him due to poverty and his father's alcoholism and that she had already given birth to many children, but her doctor refused to do the operation. Ronaldo grew up in a poor Catholic house, sharing a room with all his brothers.

In his teens, Ronaldo's talent and legend had grown considerably. After a stint with Nacional da liha da Madeira where he spent two years, Ronaldo played for the amateur club Andorinha from 1992 until 1995 and was introduced to the game of soccer through his dad, who worked as an equipment manager at a boy's club at that time. In 1997, when Ronaldo was 12, he went for a three-day trial with Sporting Lisbon, where he was signed on for £1,500.


He signed with Manchester United at the age of 18 in 2003. After winning his first tournament, the FA Cup, during his first season in England, he helped United win three consecutive Premier League titles and one League Championship, European Champions and one Club World Cup.

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In 2003, for the first time, Manchester United paid such a young player 12 million pounds as a signing amount.

At the age of 23, he was awarded the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award. In 2009, Ronaldo became the most expensive player in football history when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in an £80m transfer deal. There, Ronaldo won 15 titles, including two League titles, two Cup titles and four Champions League titles, and became the club's all-time top scorer.

After joining Madrid, Ronaldo finished second in the Ballon d'Or three times, behind Lionel Messi before winning the Ballon d'Or back-to-back in 2013 and 2014, and repeated it in 2016 and 2017. After winning the Champions League for the third time in a row in 2018, Ronaldo became the first player to win the title five times in the modern version. 

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In 2018, he signed with Juventus in a £88m transfer deal, the highest transfer fee paid to a player over the age of 30 and the highest-paid by an Italian club isnhistory. He won two Serie A titles, two Italian Super Cups and one Coppa Italia title in his three seasons with the club before returning to Manchester United in 2021.


Ronaldo was named the best Portuguese player in history by the Portuguese Football Federation in 2015. He played 180 caps, including participating and scoring in ten major tournaments, becoming the most participated player in Portugal and historic scorer for his country.

Ronaldo has won five Golden Balls as the most awarded European player and is the first player to win four European Golden Shoes. He won 32 official titles in his career, including seven league titles, five Champions League titles, one European Championship title and the inaugural UEFA Nations League title. Ronaldo holds the record for the most goals (134) in the history of the Champions League.

Ronaldo Completes Medical Ahead of Man United Move - Sky Sports

He is the all-time top scorer of the European Championship (14), and holds the record for the most goals scored in international football (111). He is one of the few players who participated in more than 1000 official matches in their career and scored more than (780) official goals for clubs and the national team.

The Portuguese player was named World's Best Athlete by Forbes in 2016 and 2017, as well as World's Most Popular Athlete by ESPN from 2016 to 2019. Listed by Time magazine in 2015 in List of the 100 Most Influential People in the world. Ronaldo has been named as Player of the Century at the 2020 Globe Soccer Awards after he finished ahead of Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Mohamed Salah.

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