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Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonel Pontes, then the academy coach for Sporting Lisbon, recalled how it was when the Portugal star left Madeira and went to Lisbon. The current Juventus player said it was one of the toughest moments of his life.
As a five time Ballon D’or winner and someone who has won many trophies throughout his career, Cristiano Ronaldo is still one of the stars of world football, despite coming towards the end of his career.
Now at Juventus after triumphing at Real Madrid and Man Utd, the Portuguese’s journey in football began at Sporting Lisbon, who he joined when he was very young. He started out at the Lisbon club, but it was not at all easy for the man for Madeira. His toughest moment was when he left the island to go to the Portuguese capital.
“My family were saying goodbye to me. They were wearing sunglasses, but I could see how tears were rolling down their face. I went with that image on the plane. It was the toughest moment of my career. I obviously cried,” Ronaldo said in a video from the Portuguese national team given to ‘Dugout’.
The man who made the move possible was Leonel Pontes, the then coach of Sporting’s academy. He recalled how he heard about Cristiano Ronaldo’s name.
“In 1997 they said there was a guy with lots of quality in Madeira. He was different to the rest. He thought about himself, he had personality and he was competitive… It’s difficult to find a guy with that talent, that emotional control and the leadership he had,” Pontes explained.
“From a very young age he thought about his body, how to improve his shots…” Leonel Pontes said. He went to watch him and despite the fact CR7 did not end up playing that game, he gave him a ball before kick off. And CR7 ended up showing his skills. “We have to sign him,” Pontes thought in that moment.
“That is where my journey began. When I like my family in Madeira, it was the most difficult moment of my professional career,” said a Cristiano Ronaldo who then became one of the best footballers in history.
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