CRISTIANO RONALDO “You could take away the money, the crowd, the fame…but I would still play football, because I love it.”


BORN INTO THE GAME The son of a cook and a kit man, Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro—known simply as Ronaldo—was born on February 5, 1985, on the tiny island of Madeira, Portugal. You could say he was born into the game: His father coordinated cleats and jerseys for Portuguese club CF Andorinha, and asked the team captain to be his youngest son’s godfather. Ronaldo’s career began with the same club at age 8.


FROM PRODIGY TO LIVING LEGEND When most are still honing their skills, Ronaldo was signing contracts. He joined famed Portuguese club Sporting CP at age 12. He was awarded the feared #7 jersey (sparking the nickname ‘CR7’) during his illustrious run for Manchester. Now at Madrid, he continues to amass goal-scoring triumphs for his team: most home games in a row with goals scored; one-plus goals averaged per game; tied for most hat tricks in La Liga history—just to name a few.


THE WAR IS WON AT PRACTICE Relentless in his quest to improve his game, Ronaldo trains with more passion than anyone in football. And it pays off: His stamina keeps him ready to strike down to the final seconds, his size gives him an edge in fighting for the ball, and his leg strength helps him win headers that are more than eight feet high. Though sought after for magazine covers the world over, he trains for function, not form. “I don’t prepare my body to be beautiful…I do that for football, to be ready for all the battles.”


FASTER, STRONGER, SMARTER Ronaldo’s explosive acceleration and instantaneous changes in direction leave defenders on their heels and out of breath. Shots fired at 80mph from either foot strike fear in the hearts of goalies. Lightning-fast football IQ, developed from thousands of hours of play, allow him to set up his teammates as a deadly and decisive ball distributor. Opponents can’t keep up, but there’s one boot that can: the Nike Mercurial, inspired by his fast-paced style of play.


THE PRIDE OF PORTUGAL Club victories aside, the ultimate glory lies in winning for one’s country. Ronaldo has inspired a nation and competed in the largest tournaments in the world. He’s Portugal’s captain, Portugal’s top goal scorer—Portugal’s best. But for a competitor this tenacious, even the best isn’t good enough: “I will only be fully content with my career,” he’s said, “when I have lifted a trophy with Portugal.”


AN INSPIRATION ON THE FIELD, AND OFF Ronaldo has said that he’d rather be remembered as a role model than a legendary football player—though he’ll likely be remembered as both. Off the pitch, between appearing on video game covers, collaborating on designs for his Nike CR7 collection and spending time with his son, he’s a dedicated philanthropist. He’s contributed to tsunami relief, cancer care, and is an ambassador for Save the Children, a global nonprofit that helps children in need.


“In your life, you do not win without sacrifices, and you must take risks.”