Welcome to World Class: Cristiano Ronaldo

You can’t score more than 750 career goals for a club and a country, win countless trophies, break all kinds of individual records, and not be considered world class. It’s impossible.

Ronaldo has been at this level for the best part of 15 years and, even now, quickly approaching 36, he is still one of the best in the world. It is truly remarkable longevity and an incredible achievement, not only to reach unprecedented heights, but to stay there.

He is absolutely irrepressible.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo has scored over 750 goals for his club and country | Jonathan Moscrop / Getty Images

Former Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri worked with Ronaldo during the player’s first season at Turin in 2018/19. He has worked with many other greats over the years including Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gattuso and Giorgio Chiellini, but considers Ronaldo a cut above in terms of mentality and drive.

“Ronaldo is the best player for mentality,” Allegri said earlier in 2020.

“Ronaldo has a different face for everyone. He’s won five Ballons d’Or, five Champions Leagues and a European Championship for Portugal, and it’s so difficult, and he’s always the one who makes the difference. Every year he has a new goal.

Never satisfied with what he has done, he always seeks to do more and more.

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Liverpool FC"
Ronaldo always wants to win more | VI-Images / Getty Images

Ronaldo has been a superstar from a young age. Manchester United were already interested in him ahead of an iconic performance in a friendly against them for Sporting CP, but that only sealed the deal and allowed the teenager previously offered to Liverpool for 4million to be transferred to Old Trafford for just over £ 12million. He was initially reluctant to take the club’s number seven vacated by David Beckham and previously worn by other club legends, but Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted due to his talent.

In the days leading up to social media and even YouTube, Ronaldo was a stranger outside of Portugal when he made his United debut at 18 as a replacement against Bolton. But it was immediately evident to anyone who saw him play that day that this kid was special, the way he played with such confidence and no fear.

How the biggest optimists could never have predicted.

As part of a developing team, Ronaldo has improved year after year at Manchester, but 2006 was the real turning point in his career when he transformed from a promising but inconsistent and sometimes frustrating youngster into a world class game changer.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo CE
Ronaldo is still world class since 2006 | PAUL ELLIS / Getty Images

He had learned how to make the most of his immense talent in the right situations, while also developing physically to be an incredible athlete.

In his three second seasons at United, Ronaldo scored 91 goals and won three Premier League titles, as well as the Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup and his first Ballon d’Or. That in itself was world class, but he reached unfathomable new levels after a world record £ 80million transfer to Real Madrid in 2009. His first season tally of 33 was incredibly his worst in nine years. over there.

Six years in a row between 2010 and 2016, Ronaldo scored more than 50 goals each season for Real. He’s twice the 60-goal mark in that race and more often than not he’s averaged one goal per game.

Real have struggled to consistently break Barcelona’s domestic dominance in La Liga but they were the ones who had the upper hand in Europe and Ronaldo won his second, third, fourth and fifth Champions League titles in 2014, 2016, 2017. and 2018 respectively. The last three were part of a historic race in which Real became the first club in the Champions League era to retain the trophy, and the first to win three in a row from big Ajax sides. and Bayern Munich of the 1970s.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo has 12 top three at the Ballon d’Or | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images

By then, Ronaldo had already won five Ballon d’Ors, including 12 in the top three overall. In 2019, he was third in the final vote and would have been there again in 2020 had the ceremony not been canceled due to the coronavirus. Ultimately, he was still honored to secure a spot on the all-time Ballon d’Or Dream Team alongside other all-time greats.

Even at 33 in 2018, Juventus saw fit to pay € 100million for Ronaldo, taking the superstar to his fourth different country. Juve maintained their dominance in Serie A and Ronaldo continued to score goals, despite having to adapt to a new league. His two Italian titles brought his domestic league trophy tally to seven and his 31 league goals in 2019/20 were his best since 2015/16. This shows that despite his age, he is still able to perform at the highest level.

Internationally, Ronaldo has always scored goals, but the past four years have also seen him step up. He got 13 of 13 appearances for Portugal in 2016 becoming European champion, his first international trophy. He has scored 34 times in 34 games since then to reach a century of international goals – only the second male player and the first European.

Sweden v Portugal - UEFA Nations League
Ronaldo has scored over 100 senior international goals | David Lidstrom / Getty Images

The numbers don’t lie and it is impossible to argue them again. That’s why Ronaldo, even now, is still one of the top five left-wing strikers on the planet and that makes him world-class.

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