Cristiano Ronaldo has blossomed from a spindly youngster with a heart problem into one of the game’s greatest ever players. Join us as we review the accomplishments of this world superstar.
Debut with Manchester United (Aug. 16, 2003)
Ronaldo became United’s first-ever Portuguese player when he joined from Sporting Clube on a $24m transfer. How different things might have been if the two other teams vying for his services – Arsenal and Barcelona – had been able to seal the deal.
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FA Cup final (May 22, 2004)
Ronaldo would score the winning goal in Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Millwall in the FA Cup final, leading him to his first piece of silverware with the Red Devils.
Man Utd via Getty ImagesMatthew Peters
Captain of Portugal national team (2007)
Ronaldo became the captain of the national team in 2007, four years after he earned his first cap but at the still young age of 22. Carlos Queiroz would hand him the armband for good in 2008 at the European Championships.
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Grasping Premier League trophy for first time (May 13, 2007)
Ronaldo broke the 20-goal barrier (all comps) with United for the first time this season, leading the Manchester giants to the title for their first honors since the previous season’s League Cup.
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Winning Champions League with Manchester United (May 21, 2008)
Cristiano Ronaldo climbed European heights for the first time by collecting the European Cup in 2008 with Manchester United. Ronaldo led the Red Devils to the trophy as the competition’s leading goalscorer and would go on to be named the Champions League’s best player that season.
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FIFA World Player of the Year (Jan. 12, 2009)
Ronaldo’s 42-goal season with United helped lead the Red Devils to the Premier League title and Champions League glory, and it was apparent that he was named the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year. He collected his first Ballon D’Or that season, as well.
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Goal vs Porto in Champions League (April 15, 2009)
Ronaldo’s forty-yard screamer to knock Porto out of the Champions League was one of the highlights of the entire tournament, earning him the first ever Puskas Award for greatest goal of the year.
Getty ImagesLaurence Griffiths
Introduction at Real Madrid (July 6, 2009)
Interest from Real Madrid soon meant a big money move for Ronaldo from the Spanish giants, taking him for a record $128m transfer fee, making him the most costly football player ever. Ronaldo would instantly invigorate Real, but to would take some time for him to get them past arch-rivals Barcelona ...
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Game-winner vs. Barcelona in Copa del Rey final (April 20, 2011)
It wasn’t until 2011 that Ronaldo was able to lead Madrid to glory, taking their first Cup in 18 long years, and finally putting Barcelona to the sword. Ronaldo scored the game winner in a cathartic final that laid the stage for glories to come.
AFP/Getty ImagesPIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
Winning La Liga with Real Madrid (May 13, 2012)
At long last, Ronaldo would taste La Liga glory when he and Jose Mourinho managed to put Barcelona in the rear view mirror and lift the crown. Real, one of the biggest teams in the world, had finally bested what is arguably the greatest club side ever assembled, over a grueling season.
Getty ImagesDenis Doyle
Champions League scoring records (2013-15)
Ronaldo broke a pair of goal-scoring records in the Champions League in 2013: the all-time mark for goals in a group stage with nine, and the most UCL goals scored in one calendar year with 15. He would go on to break his own group-stage goals record with a whopping 11 goals in 2015. Through the 2015/16 group stage, Ronaldo has amassed 88 goals excluding qualifying rounds, first all-time ahead Lionel Messi (80) and Raul (71).
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Second Ballon d'Or (Jan. 13, 2014)
The fantastic year Ronaldo enjoyed in 2013 was rewarded with his second career Ballon d'Or. Though he didn't win any trophies with Real Madrid, Ronaldo had arguably the greatest season of his career, scoring 69 goals for club and country, including all four in Portugal's World Cup qualifying playoffs tie against Sweden, sending his country to Brazil. He also added the honor of Portugal's all-time leading goalscorer to his burgeoning resume. Ronaldo would take home the prestigious award again the following January for his exploits in 2014.
AFP/Getty ImagesFABRICE COFFRINI
La Decima (May 24, 2014)
After a 12-year quest, Real Madrid finally secured their elusive 10th Champions League title. Called "La Decima," the 2013/14 European Cup ended what had become an obsession for the club. Real Madrid hadn't even made a final, let alone won one, since their 2001/02 victory, a remarkable feat when considering the stature (and wage bill) of their club. Down 1-0 to Atletico Madrid going into stoppage time, Real Madrid seemed destined for disappointment again -- until Sergio Ramos scored the equalizer in the 93rd minute. The goal proved to be the tonic Los Blancos needed as Gareth Bale, Marcelo and, yes, Ronaldo, all found the back of the net in an historic triumph.
Getty ImagesJean Catuffe
Real's all-time leading scorer (Oct. 17, 2015)
Real Madrid's history is littered with legends, from Ferenc Puskas to Alfredo Di Stefano to Raul, but only one name can stand atop the list of all-time goals scored. In October 2015, Cristiano Ronaldo became that name. Differing record books will dispute when CR7 indeed surpassed Raul to claim the throne, but he made it official on Oct. 17, 2015. His goal against Levante gave him 324 goals ... or 325, if you're using Real Madrid's record book. Either way, it was just a matter of time, and Ronaldo certainly doesn't show many signs of slowing down his pace.