Ageless Cristiano Ronaldo challenges the odds as he locks in the record of goals

Cristiano Ronaldo tells us who he is through his body. It’s his personal creation, always perfect at 36: that incredibly tight waist and straight leg, the abdominal muscles of a realistic socialist statue, the standing jump of a basketball star, the furrowed aspects of a band singer. guys, and the heart of the ultramarathoner. that the battle will hardly end on Saturday when the reigning Portuguese champions face Germany at Euro 2020. God has made him his football rival Lionel Messi, but Ronaldo is proud to have done it himself.

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

A nostalgic teenager at the Sporting academy in Lisbon, he was teased for his Madeira accent. At the age of 18, his splendor brought him to England and Manchester United. A year later, Portugal lost the Euro 2004 final against Greece, but by then it had already recovered.

Smart enough to analyze his game, he realized that his only trick – the step above – didn’t make him the best player in the world. Nor could he succeed well, face or make free throws. He learned these skills himself, and through daily repetition he memorized a repertoire of fakes.

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 built his body into muscle. Even on vacation, he exercises constantly. His ice baths and his instant glance every time he suspects he’s in the company of amateurs frightens his teammates into professionalism.

He has become a role model for the Portuguese generation who emigrated after the financial crisis, said Raquel Vaz-Pinto, a political scientist at the Portuguese Institute for International Relations and Security. He defined his message as, “If you have talent and ambition, if you sacrifice a lot, you will succeed.”

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 off Iran’s world record Ali Daei


The Champions League titles have been won, one with Manchester United and four with Real Madrid. It is the marker of competition


Number of followers on Instagram since June 2021. She has more followers than any other celebrity

He was also rebuilt in 2014. Noticing chronic damage to his left knee, he was converted by an all-rounder into a center-forward attacker who usually takes at most one touch before shooting. He lets himself be defended by teammates, the extras in his personal drama.

In the Euro 2016 final, playing for Portugal’s first grand prix, he left injured after 25 minutes, then was coached by the bench as if the manager did not exist. Portugal beat France in extra time, and in his speech to the team, Ronaldo launched the trophy mainly as a personal event: “There was the award that I always missed in my career. An award that I have won thanks to you. ”

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

“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 Ronaldo’s affections in his room, and he believes he is unparalleled for anyone.

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

Ronaldo and Messi in 2014

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

Messi and Ronaldo belong to the cohort of great moderns who have challenged aging thanks to improved professionalism, nutrition and medical care: tennis stars Roger Federer and Serena Williams are 39 years old, while Tom Brady has won the Super Bowl. year to 43 years.

Ronaldo’s will remains intact: every defeat is a personal insult, the failure of every teammate to provide a tragedy. He is also a perfectionist off the field: he helped get his brother Hugo out of drugs and donated to charity. Three of her four children are born to surrogate mothers, who are not involved in raising the children, as if no single partner could meet their parental standards.

Yet, for all of his 148m Facebook followers, most of them human, Ronaldo’s successes have not made him universally loved outside of Portugal. Unsurprisingly, the brightness on demand may seem mechanical. Opposition fans mocked him for singing “Messi!”, While the Hungarian crowd on Tuesday tried homophobic abuse. Unfazed, he scored twice in a 3-0 victory.

At the pre-match press conference, he wiped with disgrace billionaires of the Coca-Cola stock price pulling out two bottles of Coca Cola placed in front of him, and pouring water instead.

Ronaldo now has 106 goals in 176 international matches. At the head of a Portuguese team stronger than five years ago, he sits on Iran’s Ali Daei international record of 109. It doesn’t seem like it’s just over.

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