Cristiano Ronaldo may be known for becoming one of football’s greatest ever players at Manchester United and Real Madrid, but his childhood was a world away from the glamorous lifestyle the multi-millionaire now leads.
Ronaldo was born into a working-class family in Madeira in 1985. Ronaldo has previously spoken of his modest upbringing – where Christmases and birthdays were skipped and he and three siblings shared a cramped bedroom – but there is one tragic aspect of Ronaldo’s childhood that’s often brushed under the rug: his alcoholic father, Jose Dinis Aveiro.
A former soldier who fought in an unpopular war in Portugal’s bid to prevent the colony of Angola from winning their freedom, Ronaldo’s father was a heavy drinker who would later graduate into a self-destructive alcoholism that would eventually take his life.
According to an ESPN article, in his later life Aveiro would work a little and drink a lot and, although he never hit his children, he would beat Ronaldo’s mother, Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro.
Ronaldo, who believed as a teenager that he was only good enough to play semi-professionally, stepped onto a plane for the first time when he signed for United from Sporting Lisbon in 2003.
Under the wing of Sir Alex Ferguson, Ronaldo would go on to become one of the best players in world football, earning himself a move to Real Madrid in 2009. The rest is history.
Aveiro, who would spend what little he earned on alcohol during Ronaldo’s teenage years, would allegedly sell his son’s United jerseys to fund the rotten habit he couldn’t rid himself of.
But two years after Ronaldo signed for United, his father’s liver would fail. And, although the Portuguese superstar had a strained relationship with his dad, he flew him to England to receive treatment. Unfortunately for Ronaldo and Aveiro, it was too late.
Aged 52, Dinis Aveiro would die in London in the care of his son. In spite of it all, Ronaldo refused to turn his back on his father, and keeps a framed portrait of Aveiro in his home.
With an alcoholic father who drank himself to death and a drug-addicted brother, it’s little wonder that Ronaldo has been teetotal since 2005 and is renowned for his immaculate professionalism.
Ronaldo’s talent has only been half the battle, the reason he appears superhuman is his relentless physical conditioning. His upbringing and father’s premature death may go some way to explaining his tireless pursuit of perfection.
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