Early photos emerge of Cristiano Ronaldo's rags-to-riches story in Portugal

To really appreciate Cristiano Ronaldo’s story, we have to go back to the very beginning. 

The Portuguese’s journey to becoming a five-time Ballon d’Or winner came via a humble start in life, growing up in relative poverty in Madeira. 

Over the years, Ronaldo has provided plenty of inspirational interviews about some of the more difficult elements of his upbringing, having known very little about his father and providing for his mother from a young age.

His family home was so small that he shared one room with all his siblings and he later encountered further problems when he was suspended from school.

The other defining theme of his childhood, of course, was his burgeoning talent on the pitch as he attracted more and more attention as a prodigious young footballer. 

After he turned 35 this week, it’s an opportunity to reflect not only on a classic ‘rags-to-riches’ narrative but one which has the potential to inspire millions of young players around the world.

For all his promise, Ronaldo had numerous setbacks as a child – including being diagnosed with a racing heart – which makes the tale all the more remarkable. 

A photo has emerged in The Sun, via photographer Neil Munns, of his first ever registration card, which was printed when he was seven-years-old. Nobody could have predicted what he would go on to achieve in the game. 

Clube Futebol Andorinha were being graced with the presence of a player who would go on to lift six domestic titles and win five Champions Leagues. So far, that is, as he looks nowhere near finished yet. 

Ronaldo has been in phenomenal form since the turn of the year, becoming the first Juventus player since David Trezeguet to score in nine consecutive games. 

It just goes to show how the game has changed since the forward’s youth. These days, the most prolific seven-year-olds would already be slogging it out a top Academy, not sweeping the roads as Ronaldo was once pictured doing in a documentary about his life: 

When most of us tell the grandkids about the differences between Lionel Messi and Ronaldo’s paths to greatness, many will dwell on the latter’s infamous work ethic. 

The Argentine may possess the greater natural genius, but when it comes to sheer hunger, perseverance and determination, Ronaldo remains unmatched. 

That’s what makes his rise truly inspirational. 

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