Cristiano Ronaldo cried after joining Sporting Lisbon

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These days, Cristiano Ronaldo is seen as one of the most confident and charismatic characters in world football and rightly so.

His critics will argue he is arrogant but it is that part of his personality which has driven him to enjoy so much success throughout his career.

However, that hasn't always been the case and one of the men credited with discovering Ronaldo as a youngster has revealed just how different he used to be.

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The Portuguese forward joined Sporting Lisbon aged 12 when Aurelio Pereira was the youth coordinator at the club.

Ronaldo was picked up from playing for Nacional's youth teams but Pereira admitted the big move away from home almost drove the three-time Ballon d'Or winner into quitting the game before his career had even started.

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"When Ronaldo came to Lisbon, he was only 12 and it was very difficult for him to adapt," Pereira told Goal.

"He cried many days.

"He left his village, his family, he came to a big and distant city, in a difficult atmosphere, and with some facilities not as good we have now... just imagine how hard it was!

"If he wasn't so strong and so convinced that his dream was to become a footballer, he would have quit."

Sporting's player Cristiano Ronaldo (R)

It is hard to imagine one of the world's best players having such difficulty as a youngster but if anything, it makes Ronaldo's rise to the top even more impressive.

It is also a great testament to the character which has taken the Real Madrid star so far in the game and proves that the drive and determination against adversity we now witness on a weekly basis has been a key trait throughout Ronaldo's life.

But Pereira was in little doubt he had brought an exciting prospect to Sporting after seeing how skilful he was from such a young age.

He added: "Cristiano was very talented at 11. He had fantastic control, his mentality was great, and he had a great attitude and determination.

Vitoria de Guimaraes's Ricardo Silva (L) vies with

"I watched him twice and suggested the transfer to the executives, fortunately! All the rest of the kids older than Cristiano felt that he was there, that he was different, extraordinary. [Even] when he was young, he already trained with weights."

Ronaldo has only just returned from the injury he suffered in the final of Euro 2016 but Pereira believes he has already done enough to secure another Ballon d'Or triumph.

"Ronaldo is the clear favourite to win the Ballon d'Or," Pereira continued. "After winning the Champions League and Euro 2016, I can't see any other player capable of winning the Ballon d'Or. It would be the final touch for his current season."


The Madrid star faces a return to Sporting this week as Zinedine Zidane's men host the Portuguese side for the first match of the Champions League group stages.

The defending champions will be hoping to become the first team to retain the title when the final takes place in Cardiff's Principality Stadium next May.

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