Undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers to ever play the game, Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the epitome of the modern footballer. Throughout his career he has showcased his incredible talent, with successful spells in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, as well on the international scene.
Let’s take a look at what makes CR7 such an iconic player and pick out the highlights of an incredible football career that is still not over.
Player profile: Style of play
When people speak of the 21st century footballer, they speak of Cristiano Ronaldo. In terms of all-round ability, it’s hard to think of a player in the history of football who has as much to their game as the Portuguese legend.
He’s not just lethal with both feet – whether finishing clinically inside the box or striking from distance. Ronaldo is also one of the greatest aerial goal scoring threats in recent times. All of this amounts to one of football’s greatest ever goalscorers.
Of course, aside from the goals, he is perhaps best known for his searing pace and incredible dribbling skills, particularly in the early to mid-years of his career. Before reinventing himself as an out-and-out centre forward, Ronaldo was a flying winger with incredible ball control and a trick for every occasion. Yet this winger would outscore any centre forward on the planet.
All of this natural ability is backed up by a fierce desire to win, as well as an obsessive attention to detail when it comes to conditioning and maintaining peak physical fitness.
Professional football career
There aren’t players in the modern game who have enjoyed the kind of success that Cristiano Ronaldo has. He’s won an incredible 32 trophies, including seven league titles, five Champions League titles, a Uefa Championship and the Nations League.
His career has not been without controversy. Cristiano has had a reputation for petulant behavior and unsportsmanlike actions, most notably the infamous ‘wink’ towards the bench after club teammate Wayne Rooney’s red card for England at World Cup 2006.
Still, he’s generally revered in England, where he returned towards the end of his career to play for Manchester United, the team where he began his ascent to stardom.
In 2003, United paid £12.5 for a little known 18-year old from Sporting Lisbon. In the early days of his United career, Cristiano Ronaldo was dubbed a ‘show pony’ because of his constant tricks, flicks and step overs. The likes of hardman Roy Keane would regularly scream at the talented youngster to stop showing off and start producing the goods.
It didn’t take long. Within three seasons, he was the team’s top goalscorer and, by the end of his United career, Ronaldo had an incredible scoring record for Manchester United. He eventually left to become a ‘galactico’ at Real Madrid, although it wouldn’t be the last time United fans would see him in the famous red shirt. (Read about Man United’s predictions this season)
If Ronaldo was mesmerising at Man U, at Real Madrid he was a phenomenon. His extraordinary performances led Real to multiple trophies, while he himself won countless individual awards during his time in Madrid.
His nine seasons playing in La Liga saw him go head-to-head with Leo Messi, as football fans across the globe were treated to two of the greatest players in the history of football playing at their peak, at the same time. Will we ever see anything like it again? (Read about Real Madrid’s predictions this season)
Ronaldo left Real in less than happy circumstances, moving to Italy in a bid to win trophies in a third country. While critics say his time at Juventus was a failure, the stats prove otherwise.
Now into his mid-30s, Ronaldo adapted his game to account for his lack of explosive speed and fitness. Playing as an out-and-out striker, he played for critical moments, springing to life with short sprints and devastating finishing. After three seasons playing for the Old Lady, Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford, the club where the boy became a man. (Read about Juventus FC’s predictions this season)
Portugal National Football Team
Aside from his club success, CR7 has also enjoyed one of the greatest moments of his career, when Portugal won the European Championships in 2016.
Although he was injured midway through the first half of the final, Ronaldo remained an inspiration on the sidelines. After Portugal won, he described it as “one of the happiest moments of my career … a unique moment for me … unforgettable.”
Cristiano Ronaldo: Stats
After his team success at Euro 2016, he won the golden boot at Euro 2020, becoming the top goalscorer in the Portuguese national team’s history and the all time top scorer in the European Championships.
Ronaldo scored 84 goals in 196 appearances for Manchester United, including 31 in 34 during the 2006/2007 season, equalling Alan Shearer’s record for most goals in a season.
In 292 performances for Real Madrid, Ronaldo scored an astonishing 311 goals, in nine seasons. His extraordinary performances led Real to two La Liga wins and five Champions League victories, while he himself won four Ballon d’Or awards during his time in Madrid.
In Italy, he won two Serie A titles, two Supercoppe Italiana and a Coppa Italia, scoring a total of 81 goals in 98 games.
Ronaldo’s all time goals record stands at 802 and counting – the top goalscorer in the history of football.