A young Cristiano Ronaldo cut his 11-a-side teeth with local side Nacional de Madeira. News of his prodigious ability travelled to mainland Portugal and in 1997 he packed his suitcase and signed for Sporting CP.
After impressing in the Lisbon club's youth ranks, a 16-year-old Cristiano got a call up to play with the first team.
He continued to impress and soon his dribbling skills start catching the attention of some of the world’s most prominent managers, most notably Alex Ferguson, who earmarked the pimply-faced teenager when Manchester United suffered a 3-1 humbling at the hands of Sporting CP in a 2003 friendly match.
The Scotsman convinced Manchester United to part with 17 million euro to sign the Portuguese wonderkid, making him the most expensive teenager in English football history up until that point. Cristiano is given the daunting task of carrying the no. 7 jersey on his narrow shoulders, a shirt worn by Red Devil legends like David Beckham, George Best and Eric Cantona. Needless to say, the pressure didn’t seem to affect him.
That's not to say it was all plain sailing from the get-go. While his undeniable talent was always there for all to see, his habit of overrunning the ball during his early Old Trafford days earned him a reputation as a showboater in a league not found of needless trickery.
But it wasn’t long before his ball-hogging tendencies were (somewhat) drilled out of him and his offensive attributes soon became the talk of the town in England and further afield.
It was during his six seasons with the Red Devils that Cristiano developed a taste for silverware: 3 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 Football League Cups, 1 FA Community Shield, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 FIFA Club World Cup….. and his first Ballon d’Or (2008).
By this stage Cristiano’s was the most sought-after signature in world football and, ahead of the 2009/10 season, Real Madrid splashed 104.7 million euro to lure the Premier League MVP to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Since joining Los Blancos, the Portuguese marksman has taken a sledgehammer to too many club records to mention here, but surpassing the legendary Alfredo di Stefano’s tally to become Real Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer undoubtedly merits a tipping of the hat (385 goals and counting).
That insatiable appetite for trophies has been satisfied with the Spanish giants: 1 LaLiga, 2 Copas del Rey, 1 Spanish Super Cup, 2 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 2 FIFA Club World Cups. Oh yeah, and a further 3(!) Ballon d'Ors.