- 6'0" (1.84m)
- 174 lbs (79 kg)
- February 5, 1985
A much-vaunted prodigy when snapped up by Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, Ronaldo is now, alongside Lionel Messi, the best-known player on the planet, and a hero for Real Madrid and Portugal.
It had been expected that Ronaldo would be eased in gently to the first-team picture at Old Trafford but a captivating cameo on his debut against Bolton Wanderers gave a glimpse of a special talent that could not be held back. By the end of his first season, he had his first trophy -- scoring the opening goal in the FA Cup final victory over Millwall.
Ronaldo kept getting better and better with each season that passed and so confident was Sir Alex Ferguson in the young Portuguese's abilities that he began to build a team around him, even selling prolific terrace hero Ruud van Nistelrooy. It took a couple of years for the risk to come off but in 2006-07 United started to really reap the rewards; Ronaldo broke the 20-goal barrier for the first time, with 17 coming in the league -- including a majestic solo effort to secure a late victory at Fulham, hailed as one of the key results in the race for the title.
Ronaldo and United went a step forward the following season, as the Red Devils No. 7 plundered an unbelievable 42 goals across all competitions as United won another Premier League title, and he added a Champions League winners' medal to his collection, scoring in the final against Chelsea, though he did miss a penalty in the ultimately victorious shootout. Ronaldo's performances saw him crowned the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year and that summer, Real Madrid -- Ronaldo's boyhood club -- came calling. Ferguson refused to part with his star man, insisting he would "not sell that club a virus," such was his unhappiness with the way they pursued Ronaldo.
The player himself was initially frustrated at not being able to move but, still at Old Trafford, set about his job in his customary fashion. Twenty-six goals in 53 games helped United to a third successive Premier League title and Ronaldo hit crucial goals in the quarterfinal against Porto and semifinal against Arsenal as Ferguson's side reached another Champions League final. Barcelona were the opponents in Rome in 2009 but it was not to be a happy night for Ronaldo -- upstaged by Lionel Messi, Barca won 2-0 in a match that proved to be Ronaldo's last in a United shirt.
Just a few weeks later, Ronaldo made a world record 80-million-pound move to Madrid, fulfilling a lifetime ambition as he became a Bernabeu galactico.
Totally unfazed by the price tag, Ronaldo hit 33 goals in 35 games in his first season; that was, however, only the start of things to come. The 2010-11 season saw Ronaldo earn the Pichichi as La Liga's top scorer with a remarkable 40 goals in 34 games, while he also scored the winning goal against Real Madrid's bitter rivals Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.
Ronaldo's upward curve continued in 2011-12 as he won the Primera Division title with Real, netting 46 goals in 38 games along the way. In any other year it would have been enough to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or but despite his outrageous strike-rate was bettered by Barca rival Messi, whose 73 goals earned the Argentine the individual prize.
Rather than crying over spilled milk, though, Ronaldo came back even stronger, with his performances for club and country in 2013 -- including a virtuoso display in Portugal's vital 3-2 World Cup playoff victory versus Sweden -- saw him finally land a second FIFA Ballon d'Or. It got better still, as Ronaldo netted a Champions League record 17 goals as Madrid also ended their long wait for a tenth European Cup.
For Portugal, Ronaldo's teenage tears won the hearts of a nation as the hosts lost to Greece in the Euro 2004 final and came of age at the 2006 World Cup -- converting the winning penalty in the quarterfinal shootout victory over England. In Euro 2008 qualifying he was his nation's top scorer and, though he managed just one goal at the tournament, he soon established himself as Portugal's talisman and captain. The 2010 World CUp was expected to be Ronaldo's chance to really steal the show on the greatest stage of them all but he wilted in South Africa, scoring just one goal as Portugal were eliminated by Spain in the round of 16.
At Euro 2012, Ronaldo finally showed what he could do at a major tournament, taking Portugal to the semifinals before an agonising penalty shootout defeat to Spain, in which the Real Madrid star did not even take a spot-kick, as his side had lost before he could take the fifth. Still he finished as joint-top scorer and then played a vital roles in Portugal's qualification for the 2014 World Cup. In a playoff against Sweden, he scored the winning goal in the first-leg and then a match-winning hat-trick to send his team to Brazil.
Strengths: Ronaldo will take on any defender with searing pace, and mesmerising footwork to boot. His ability to beat a player and to find the goal from any angle in open play, and at set-pieces.
Weaknesses: On occasion, he goes to ground far too easily which attracts the ire of supporters and sometimes tries a trick when a simple pass would do.
Career high: Winning the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or and following it up by guiding Real Madrid to their tenth European Cup a few months later.
Career low: Losing to Greece in the final of Euro 2004 on home turf. His tears were caught on camera for all to see.
Style: Fast, tricky, powerful, a world-beating phenomenon.
Quotes: "I have nothing but praise for the boy. He is easily the best player in the world. He is better than Kaka and better than Messi. He is streets ahead of them all. His contribution as a goal threat is unbelievable. His stats are incredible. Strikes at goal, attempts on goal, raids into the penalty box, headers. It is all there. Absolutely astounding." Sir Alex Ferguson, July 2009.
Trivia: Cristiano's name Ronaldo came from his father's favourite actor, Ronald Reagan.