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"Football kept me going” — Cristiano Ronaldo opens up about his childhood

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Cristiano Ronaldo empathizes the importance of work ethic and persistence in his latest article

Real Madrid v Espanyol - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Welcome to Tuesday’s quote round-up. Today, we have excerpts from Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest article in The Player’s Tribune, some quotes from his conversation with Rio Ferdinand, and Raphael Varane’s appreciation for Zinedine Zidane.


“Football kept me going”

"I cried almost every day," Ronaldo wrote in The Players' Tribune. "I was still in Portugal, but it was like moving to another country. The accent made it like a completely different language. The culture was different. I didn't know anybody, and it was extremely lonely. My family could only afford to come visit me every four months or so. I was missing them so much that every day was painful.

"Football kept me going. I knew I was doing things on the field that the other kids at the academy couldn't do. I remember the first time I heard one of the kids say to another kid, 'Did you see what he did? This guy is a beast'.

"I started hearing it all the time. Even from the coaches. But then somebody would always say, 'Yeah but it's a shame he's so small'.

"And it's true, I was skinny. I had no muscle. So I made a decision at 11 years old. I knew I had a lot of talent, but I decided that I was going to work harder than everybody. I was going to stop playing like a kid. I was going to stop acting like a kid. I was going to train like I could be the best in the world.

"I don't know where this feeling came from. It was just inside of me. It's like a hunger that never goes away. When you lose, it's like you're starving. When you win, it's still like you're starving, but you ate a little crumb. This is the only way I can explain it.

"I started sneaking out of the dormitory at night to go work out. I got bigger and faster. And then I would walk onto the field - and the people who used to whisper, "Yeah, but he's so skinny?' Now they would be looking at me like it was the end of the world.

"When I was 15, I turned to some of my team-mates during training. I remember it so clearly. I said to them, 'I'll be the best in the world one day'. They were kind of laughing about it. I wasn't even on Sporting's first team yet, but I had that belief. I really meant it."


“If you don't win anything, it's empty.”

"Inside the pitch, the most important thing is to win trophies," Ronaldo told Rio Ferdinand for Nike Football. "We work 10, 11 months; if you don't win anything, it's empty.

"I like to win trophies, collective and individual, because I work hard for that.

"Outside, it's the family and friends that I have [that are the most important thing] and to try to be the most happy person in the world."

"When I landed here, I started to feel the atmosphere," he said. "I thought it was a game. All these people coming just to see me. It was an unbelievable day. I'm so proud.

"I just thought 'I want to go there to show my level, to show I'm a different player'. This is what I did. I did a fantastic season and I've improved every season.

"But I never forget the Red Devils. I learned to be better and better, to be around the best players in the world. If you have talent and you work hard, you can be a huge player."

"...... In 10 years, it will be tough. Maybe I'll do boxing like you!" he said.


Raphael Varane takes an opportunity to praise Zinedine Zidane

"He has given me a lot, in my attitude, in my play and in the risks that I take," Varane told Marca.

"He is someone that doesn't allow me to remain in my comfort zone, he has a lot of experience and it is a great opportunity for me to learn from him."

"I have my style of play and people can criticise me for that which is not a problem.

"I try to play to my strengths and I think I am a more rounded player now aged 24 than I was aged 18.

"In my position you talk about a mature player being around 28 and it is normal that you improve."