Cristiano Ronaldo is a name everyone is aware of, whether they follow football or not. He just cannot be ignored, the superstar that he is. We wish the supernova a very happy birthday, as he turns 32 today on 5th February. He has never peaked so high in his career. He is often ranked the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time. He has often been compared to Lionel Messi, but as of now, there is no doubt that he is right at the top, and it will be a while before someone knocks him off his perch.
The Portuguese currently plays for Real Madrid and of course, for the national team. The forward/winger and captain won his first Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards back in 2008. He then won the FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2013 and 2014. In 2016, he received his fourth Ballon d'Or, the most for a European player in the history of the award, and the inaugural Best FIFA Men's Player. In 2015, Ronaldo scored his 500th senior career goal for club and country.
Ronaldo was named the best Portuguese player of all time by the Portuguese Football Federation, during its 100th-anniversary celebrations in 2015. He is the only player to win four European Golden Shoe awards. One of the most marketable athletes in the sport, in 2016 Forbes named Ronaldo the world's best-paid athlete and in June 2016, ESPN ranked him the world's most famous athlete. Honestly, we can go on and on.
A versatile attacker, Ronaldo is capable of playing in the center as well as either wing, owing to his equal strength with both feet. He ranks among the world's fastest footballers, both with and without the ball. He loves using his pace and acceleration to take on opponents in one-on-one situations. He is noted for his dribbling and flair, often displaying an array of tricks and feints, such as the step-overs that became his trademark.
Already known for his pace and near aerodynamic body type, he also underwent a major physical transformation, developing a muscular body type, which would allow him to be more aggressive in terms of retaining possession of the ball. All this only added to his strength and with a height of over 6 feet, he began aerial domination as well. When it comes to set pieces, he is an accurate penalty kick taker, and is renowned for his powerful, bending free kicks. He has also grown to be a mature player and has insisted that his competitive nature should not be mistaken for arrogance.
Ronaldo began his senior club career playing for Sporting CP, before signing with Manchester United at the age of 18. After a few trophies, he became the most expensive association football transfer when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009. The transfer was worth $132 million.
Apart from the trophies in Spain, Ronaldo holds the record for most goals scored in a single UEFA Champions League season and also the fastest player to score 200 goals (in just 178 games) in La Liga. He is the only player in the history of football to score more than 50 goals in a season on six consecutive occasions. In 2015, Ronaldo became the all-time top goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League, and he also became Real Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer. He is the second highest goalscorer in La Liga history behind Lionel Messi.
It was in 2003 when Ronaldo made his international debut for Portugal, at the age of 18. He is Portugal's most capped player of all time, with over 130 caps, and has participated in seven major tournaments. He is the first Portuguese player to reach 50 international goals, making him Portugal's all-time top goalscorer.
In 2014, Ronaldo became the all-time top scorer in the UEFA European Championship with 23 goals. At Euro 2016, he became the most capped player of all-time in the tournament, the first player to score at four consecutive European Championship finals, and also equalled Michel Platini's all-time record for most goals scored in the competition. Ronaldo lifted the trophy after Portugal defeated France in the final, and he received the Silver Boot as the second-highest goalscorer of the tournament.
Ronaldo is showing no signs of slowing down whatsoever. He will continue to push his limits almost as if there are no boundaries. And it is only when an athlete knows how to push the envelope, is when he becomes, truly great.