Ageless Cristiano Ronaldo defies the odds as he moves closer to scoring record

Cristiano Ronaldo tells us who he is through his body. It’s her personal creation, still perfect at 36: that incredibly narrow waist and straight back, the abdominal muscles of a realistic socialist statue, the standing jump of a basketball star, the sulky looks of a boy band singer and ultramarathoner heart whose pace will barely increase on Saturday when reigning champions Portugal meet Germany at Euro 2020. God made his football rival Lionel Messi, but Ronaldo is proud of himself. be done itself.

The odds were against Ronaldo when he was born on the island of Madeira, the poor outskirts of poor outlying Portugal. Her mother had wanted to abort the abortion, but Portuguese law did not allow it in 1985. Her father, a veteran of the Angolan war, was “drunk almost every day,” Ronaldo later recalls. The unwanted child has acquired a constant need to prove his right to exist, theorizes a biographer, Jan-Cees Butter.

A nostalgic teenager for the Sporting academy in Lisbon, he was teased for his Madeiran accent. At 18, his genius took him to England and Manchester United. A year later, Portugal lost the Euro 2004 final to Greece, but it was already recovering.

Smart enough to analyze his game, he realized that his one turn – the step forward – wouldn’t make him the best player in the world. He also couldn’t direct, tackle or shoot free kicks well. He learned these skills himself and, through daily repetition, memorized a repertoire of feints.

A lean sprinter, he didn’t seem destined for a long career, but through obsessive workouts – he can do 142 sit-ups in 45 seconds – he locked his body in his muscles. Even on vacation, he is constantly exercising. His ice baths and instant glare whenever he suspects he’s in the company of amateurs terrifies his teammates in professionalism.

He has become a role model for the Portuguese generation who emigrated after the financial crisis, said Raquel Vaz-Pinto, political scientist at the Portuguese Institute for International Relations and Security. She defined her message as: “If you have talent and ambition, if you sacrifice a lot, you are going to be successful.

Ronaldo in numbers

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates at the 2016 European Championships where he led the team to the trophy, despite an injury in the final


Number of international goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo, three out of the world record held by Iranian Ali Daei


Titles won in the Champions League, one with Manchester United and four with Real Madrid. He is the top scorer in the competition


Number of followers on Instagram as of June 2021. He has more followers than any other celebrity

He recovered again in 2014. Warned of chronic damage to his left knee, he converted from an all-rounder into a center-forward who usually takes at most one touch before shooting. He lets his teammates defend the extras in his personal drama.

In the Euro 2016 final, playing for Portugal’s very first major prize, he got injured after 25 minutes, then coached from the bench as if the manager didn’t exist. Portugal beat France in overtime, and in his speech to the team, Ronaldo presented the trophy above all as a personal event: “It was the prize that I still missed in my career. A prize that I won thanks to you.

He has won the Ballon d’Or for best player in the world five times, compared to Messi’s six. The argument over who’s better is as silly as arguing over whether Michelangelo surpasses Leonardo. The personal duel of the two players improved them both.

“Messi was good for Ronaldo and Ronaldo was good for Messi,” said Kylian Mbappé. The young French striker, considered the best player of the new generation, grew up with posters of Ronaldo in his bedroom and believes he is no match for either man.

“If you tell yourself you’ll do better than them, it’s beyond ego or determination – it’s lack of awareness. These players are incomparable ”, Mbappé said in an interview with Esquire this spring.

Ronaldo and Messi in 2014

Ronaldo shakes hands with Lionel Messi ahead of a friendly between Portugal and Argentina in 2014 © Paul Ellis / AFP via Getty Images

Messi and Ronaldo belong to the cohort of modern greats who have defied aging through improved professionalism, nutrition and medical care: tennis stars Roger Federer and Serena Williams are 39, while Tom Brady has won the Super Bowl of this year at 43.

Ronaldo’s motivation remains intact: every loss is a personal insult, the failure of every teammate to provide him with a tragedy. He is just as a perfectionist off the pitch: he helped get his brother Hugo off drugs and quietly donates to charities. Three of her four children were born to surrogate mothers, who are not involved in raising the children, as if no single partner can meet her parenting standards.

Yet for all of his 148 million Facebook followers, the most, Ronaldo’s accomplishments have not made him universally loved outside of Portugal. Unfairly, on-demand shine may seem mechanical. Opposing fans taunt him with chants of “Messi!”, While the Hungarian crowd attempted homophobic abuse on Tuesday. Unperturbed, he scored twice in a 3-0 victory.

In a pre-match press conference, he casually wiped billion dollars on the Coca-Cola share price by removing two Coke bottles placed in front of him and renting water instead.

Ronaldo now has 106 goals in 176 international games. At the head of a Portuguese team stronger than five years ago, he is approaching the international record of 109 of Iranian Ali Daei. He seems far from finished.

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