How Cristiano Ronaldo Almost Quit Football In Portugal before He Joined Man United In 2003

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Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest football players the world has ever known, but not much is known about the rocky lanes he traveled before an explosive career success.

Kid Cristiano Ronaldo was unhappy and frustrated at Sporting Lisbon Academy.

Dark years at Sporting Lisbon Academy

Born in 1985 on the island of Madeira in Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly considered quitting football and was bullied at Sporting, where he started his football journey.

At some points, he was said to be ‘lonely and homesick’ while playing at the Sporting academy and has struggled to fit in with other kids and was having difficulties with teachers at school.

Additionally, he was prevented from hitting the club’s gym as a child and only had a breath of fresh air when he joined Manchester United Academy in 2003.

However, things did not go on perfectly at United. He was reportedly involved in a training ground bust-up with Ruud van Nistelrooy shortly after he arrived and struggled to get the older players on his side.

Ronaldo’s early career struggles is captured in a book called: Messi vs Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATs, and the Era That Remade the World’s Game.

In the book, it was revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo was caught up in a dilemma of continuing to pursue a career in football or quitting due to his difficulties while at the Lisbon Academy.

Other kids constantly taunt him for his heavy Madeiran accent in Lisbon, and he cried every day because he misses his family and local friends.

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Ronaldo struggled to control his emotions at such a young age and began lashing out as a result of his circumstances.

The young starlet was said to have been involved in a series of bust-ups and scrapes with other boys in the schoolyard in Lisbon.

Additionally, Ronaldo is said to have thrown a chair at one of his teachers after they made fun of the way he spoke.

At Sporting Lisbon, Ronaldo and others were prevented from using the

As a result of his difficulties at school, Ronaldo was allowed to quit his studies and focus solely on football. He was called up to the Sporting first XI soon after.

Speaking about his formal education, Ronaldo once said: ‘I always felt that I wasn’t cut out for school. So what was the point?’.

Despite dropping out of school and reaching Sporting’s first XI, it wasn’t until Ronaldo was sold to United for £12million that he started to fall in love with his career.

This is because Sporting prevented Ronaldo from using the gym as he pleased. Therefore, he struggled to bulk up and found himself being knocked off the ball in games.

Sporting had strict policies when it comes to ‘children’ using the gym. They blocked youngsters from lifting weights and working out regularly as they wanted them to ‘grow naturally’.

Academy executive Aurelio Pereira once said: ‘We never put children in gyms. That is one of the secrets behind our players’ long careers. It’s important to let them grow naturally.’

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Therefore, Ronaldo – who would tell his team-mates he would be ‘the best in the world one day’ – would reportedly sneak out of his dormitory at night to lift weights.

Ronaldo’s night-time adventures didn’t stay secret for long. Once the Sporting coaches found out, he was sentenced to detention.

The club’s hierarchy even locked the gym doors with a padlock to prevent the youngster from trying his luck again.

However, this didn’t stop Ronaldo from pursuing his goal of getting strong. He decided to get creative and use buckets of water in the shower to perform squats.

Sporting’s coaches intervened once again. They reportedly took the buckets away from Ronaldo.

So, he began strapping weights to his ankles and racing cars in his free time to build up his explosive power.

Ronaldo was also caught using the cafeteria’s oranges for keepy uppys after the coaches took their balls away from him to prevent him from overdoing training.

When discussing Ronaldo’s persistence, Sporting fitness coach Carlos Bruno said: ‘He always wanted more. Most players, when the training goes on too long, they say, ‘Hey, coach, too much water kills the plant, you know?’ Cristiano was a guy who always wanted more water in the plant.’

Beginning to hope at Manchester United


However, things were not also prefect at United for Ronaldo either. After joining the Red Devils as a relatively unknown teenager, Ronaldo was involved in an altercation with Van Nistelrooy.

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Speaking about the incident, Rio Ferdinand once said that Van Nistelrooy had gotten so fed up with Ronaldo’s failure to provide a cross, he told the Portugal star he belonged ‘in a circus’.

Ferdinand said Van Nistelrooy’s criticism of Ronaldo forge a desire within him to become one of the world’s best.

Following Van Nistelrooy’s departure in 2006, Ronaldo went on to form a lethal partnership with Wayne Rooney.

The struggle to adapt continues

Ronald and Ruud Van Nistelrooy

After joining the Red Devils as a relatively unknown teenager, Ronaldo clashed with Van Nistelrooy. He even had a difficult relationship with Gary Neville.

But Neville later commended Cristiano Ronaldo for a drastic and sudden change after he came back from 2006 FIFA World Cup with Portugal.

His maturity and his decision-making, his experience, his physical attributes completely changed overnight.

His scrawny, really thin, wiry look gave way to a strong, agile, resilient person.

Gary Neville described Cristiano Ronaldo’s transformation as absolutely incredible mind-blowing.

The making of the football icon


From a timid, erratic, unpredictable, and unfriendly fellow, Cristiano Ronaldo has emerged as one of the greatest football stars.

Gary Neville attributed Ronaldo’s rise to Sir Alex Ferguson, who was able to manage and believed in the player despite his unpredictability.

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