Funchal, the capital of the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, is a picturesque city surrounded by hills and known for its port, gardens, and Madeira wine cellars. Its centuries-old cathedral, which blends Gothic and Romanesque styles, stands out for its intricately carved wooden ceiling. In front of the port is the São Tiago fortress, built in the 17th century and now home to the Museum of Contemporary Art with a vast collection of Portuguese works. It was in this city that one of the greatest soccer players of all time was born on February 5, 1985: Cristiano Ronaldo.
The youngest of four children born to Maria Dolores dos Santos and José Dinis Aveiro, he was named after Ronald Reagan, one of his father's favorite actors. Ronaldo began his professional career with Sporting CP at age 17 in 2002 and signed for Manchester United a year later. Ronaldo learned about soccer through his father, who worked as a team manager in a boys' club. To help keep the family fed and maintain some financial stability, Ronaldo's mother worked as a cook and cleaner.
Despite these difficult circumstances, Ronaldo was determined to make it as a professional soccer player. A year after joining Manchester United, Ronaldo scored two goals in the European Championship with Portugal, as the team finished runner-up in their homeland. He is one of the few players who has played more than 1,100 games as a professional and has scored more than 800 official goals in his professional career with the club and the country. As captain of his national team, Ronaldo led Portugal to the final of the European Championship against France.
Ronaldo won his first trophy in England, the FA Cup 2003-04, in May 2004, when Manchester United beat Millwall 3-0. He became the second fastest player to reach this milestone, after Gunnar Nordahl, and the first player in history to score 50 goals in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A. In parallel with his individual achievements, Ronaldo enjoyed his greatest success as a team in Spain to date, helping Madrid win La Décima, its tenth European Cup. Both he and Brazilian soccer prodigy Neymar have scored in several UEFA Champions League finals and have regularly broken the 50-goal barrier in a single season. The great soccer player Diego Maradona led Argentina to victory at the 1986 World Cup, although his achievements were later overshadowed by his battles against drug abuse.
Cristiano Ronaldo has lived up to great expectations with his game for FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.