The foot­baller grew up in a poor Catholic fam­i­ly, but dreamed of a lux­u­ri­ous life.

Cris­tiano Ronal­do was born on the Por­tuguese island of Madeira, in the city of Fun­chal with a pop­u­la­tion of about 112 thou­sand peo­ple. Ronal­do’s fam­i­ly was not rich: his moth­er was a cook, his father was a gar­den­er. They took on sev­er­al jobs so that the future foot­ball star would not be bul­lied because of pover­ty.

Ronaldo smashed windows with a ball and ran away from neighbors

On their home street, Ronaldo’s fam­i­ly was hat­ed, because Cris­tiano con­stant­ly kicked the ball into the walls, break­ing glass. The future foot­ball play­er ran away, and if he was grabbed by the scruff of the neck, he blamed oth­ers.

When dis­grun­tled neigh­bors came to his moth­er, she refused to pay for the dam­age. “He annoyed some­one every day,” recalled Joel San­tos, who owned a bar 50 meters from Cristiano’s house.

Ronaldo was bullied at Sporting’s academy because of his accent

Ronal­do joined Sport­ing Lis­bon’s acad­e­my as a teenag­er and quick­ly became a star — he was bril­liant on the pitch. Despite this, Cris­tiano was bul­lied by his team­mates. This is due to the accent that is com­mon in Madeira. Ronal­do was very wor­ried about ridicule: he locked him­self in the room and cried, miss­ing his fam­i­ly and friends.

Ronal­do once lost his tem­per when the teacher asked him to stand up and intro­duce him­self. The foot­baller said in a creepy island accent: “Hi, I’m Cris­tiano Ronal­do and I’m from Madeira.”

His class­mates and even the teacher laughed, after which Ronal­do got angry. He grabbed a chair and warned the teacher: if you con­tin­ue to laugh, I will throw the chair at your head (accord­ing to anoth­er ver­sion, at the age of 14, Ronal­do threw a chair at a teacher who was talk­ing about the pover­ty of his fam­i­ly, which is why he was expelled).

It was dif­fi­cult for Ronal­do at the Sport­ing acad­e­my: almost every evening he called his moth­er ask­ing him to take him home. Then the foot­baller admit­ted that this strength­ened him and allowed him to set­tle into Man­ches­ter Unit­ed with­out any prob­lems. But in his youth he was called a whin­er — Ronal­do cried con­stant­ly.​​​​​​​​​​​​

Ronaldo stole food and dropped out of school to play football

To stop peo­ple laugh­ing at him, Ronal­do worked on his accent — he repeat­ed words in his room until he brought his pro­nun­ci­a­tion to Lis­bon. “The kids laughed at him a lot. But he is smart and knows how to quick­ly grasp infor­ma­tion. Every­one says he’s stu­pid, but he was able to learn Span­ish and Eng­lish at a con­ver­sa­tion­al lev­el,” said his sis­ter Elma Aveiro.

Ronal­do had behav­ior prob­lems at school. One day, the direc­tor received a com­plaint that Cris­tiano, along with a team­mate, stole a can of iced tea, two yoghurts from the can­teen and ate the lunch of the sick Ruy Lopes with­out his per­mis­sion.

Sub­se­quent­ly, Ronal­do aban­doned his stud­ies and focused on foot­ball. “I always felt like I wasn’t cut out for school. So what’s the point?” — Cris­tiano recalled.

Ronaldo constantly wanted to train — because of him they hung a lock in the gym

Ronal­do’s spe­cial­ty is incred­i­ble hard work. He was very unhap­py that he was not allowed to work out at the gym at a time con­ve­nient to him. The club had rules for youth team play­ers that pro­hib­it­ed this.

Aure­lio Pereira, head of the club’s acad­e­my, recalled: “We nev­er train minors in the gym. This is one of the secrets of our play­ers’ long careers. It’s impor­tant that they grow nat­u­ral­ly.”

​​​​But Ronal­do didn’t care about the rules: he ran away at night, made his way into the gym and trained alone. One day he was noticed and pun­ished. The club had to put a large lock on the door to pre­vent the play­er from get­ting in again.

Cris­tiano was so unstop­pable that he decid­ed to lift buck­ets of water and even tied weights to his ankles. “He always strived for more,” says strength coach Car­los Bruno. “Cris­tiano was a guy who always want­ed to train.”