In the latest edition of World Soccer Presents,we delve into the archives to tell the story of Cristiano Ronaldo’s rise from a skinny Sporting wonderkid to one of football’s all-time greats

World Soccer Presents: Rise of Ronaldo

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The first-ever mention of Cristiano Ronaldo in World Soccer can be found in the September 2003 issue; a mere line on the teenager’s transfer to Manchester United from Sporting. Since then, he’s gone on to be named the magazine’s World Player of the Year a joint-record five times. Who could have predicted that almost two decades ago?

His elite mentality is undoubtedly one of the reasons he stakes claim to be one of the game’s greatest-ever players, and that’s something that resonates throughout this issue. In a standout quote from his 2008 ESM Golden Shoe interview, a 23-year-old Ronaldo speaks about age.

“Age is not the most important thing. If you do the right things on the pitch, people don’t care about age. If you have talent, you have to play. In Italy, if you are a player of 35 and you are a better player than a boy of 20 or 21, you have to play. Age is not important”

Back then it was a marker of respect to his elders, and an understanding that talent is more important than age. But it’s just as salient a quote today, as he continues to impose himself on games in one of Europe’s toughest leagues in his mid-30s, while other players of a similar age seek a kinder pre-retirement in lesser leagues

Clearly still with ability and stamina in abundance, this special edition bookazine doesn’t see itself as a “bon voyage” – or better said, “boa viagem” – to the superstar. Moreover, his Manchester homecoming marked an exciting opportunity to celebrate his career thus far, from his Red Devils rise to European dominance at Real Madrid, his Serie A switch to Juventus and recent return to the Premier League.

We also take a closer look at his five World Player of the Year awards, plus his Portugal progress from Euro 2004 teenage starlet to Euro 2016 championship-winning captain. Simply put, there’s something for everyone – even the Lionel Messi disciples.

Jared Tinslay, World Soccer Assistant Editor