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The Rebuilt Series: Cristiano Ronaldo logo 14-06-2016

On October 23, Forbes listed Cristiano Ronaldo as the most valuable brand in football. He is, in short, qualified to be the game’s proverbial face that will launch a thousand ships.

But before Ronaldo was this larger than life, perfectly groomed player he was a teenager with braces and acne and was even photographed holding his mother’s hand while crossing a street during his early Manchester days.

His move to Manchester United, in 2003 at the age of 18, was the making of him not only as a player but the superstar he has gone on to become.

If the £12.24 million price tag wasn’t an indicator, Ronaldo said he knew he had arrived when he got on the plane to Manchester. “It was the first time I’d ever been on an airplane,” he said. “This was when I knew I had made it as a footballer.”

Ronaldo, named after former US President Ronald Reagan, was brought up far from the riches of football that surround him nowadays. He was born in Funchal, Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

While the islands are famous for its wine and luxury resorts, Ronaldo lived on a tiny street up a hill in a house with a tin roof. His father José Dinis was a municipal gardener and his mother, Maria Dolores, worked as a cook and a cleaner to make ends meet. He was the youngest of four children.

“I was brought up with nothing, we were very poor,” he recalled. “I had no toys and no Christmas presents. I shared a room with my brother and two sisters and my parents slept in the other.

“It was a small space. But I didn’t mind. I’m incredibly close with my brother and sisters and we loved being together. For us it was normal, it was all we knew. Everyone around us lived the same way and we were happy.”

The only privilege he did have was his skill on the ball and like Gillette rebuilt shaving with its latest Flexball Technology, Ronaldo used his talent to rise above the hardship of his childhood to become one of the finest players the world has ever seen.

He started his football career at an amateur club called Andorinha, where his father was a kit man. While Real Madrid bought him from United for £80 million, making him the most expensive signing at the time, Ronaldo’s first ever transfer-- from Andorinha to Nacional - was done in exchange of two tracksuits.

But Ronaldo was on the fast track to stardom. At his first professional club, Sporting CP, Ronaldo went from under-16 to first-team player within a season. His obvious talent caught the eye of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson who brought him to the north of England and threw him into the deep end of the Premier League before he was still out of his teens.

It was at United that Ronaldo transformed from a man of few tricks, trademarked by that step over, to a full-fledged genius. He won three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Champions League medal with the team.

His star has only further risen at Real Madrid, since making the move in 2009. He doesn’t always cut a popular figure at the Santiago Bernabeu, with his own fans known to boo him, but Ronaldo’s discipline and hard work, and an obsessive drive to improve has made him one of the best players in the world. Ronaldo has won the Ballon d‘Or, the ultimate recognition of individual talent, for the past two years.

Most recognize Messi’s ability to mesmerize, but Ronaldo has always been relentless in his quest for perfection, something he continually pursues.

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