Cristiano Ronaldo on fate, childhood and Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo tells UEFA.com he always felt destined to be a top player – and predicts that “Portugal will win big things” some day after a near miss at UEFA EURO 2004.

On his childhood …

My cousins used to play football and I always wanted to play. I played in my neighbourhood and also at school. I was in Madeira until I was more or less 11, then I went to the mainland. Basically mine was a good childhood – the childhood of a normal child who moved to Lisbon aged 11 to try to achieve something in the world of football.

My parents gave me the opportunity to leave Madeira at a very young age; it was a very difficult decision, possibly the most difficult they ever had to make in their lives, and mine as well.

It had a positive effect because I immediately joined the youth teams at higher age groups. I started training with Sporting’s B team when I was 15 and when I was 16 I was training with the first team. Everything went very quickly. Obviously my head was already focused on becoming a professional footballer.

On his sense of destiny …

When I watched matches as a child, I always knew that one day I would be there too. It’s hard to explain, but it motivated me. It motivated me to go play and football in the streets, and say: “One day I will be a player. I will be a player, 100%.” Luís Figo, Rui Costa and Fernando Couto were the heroes when I was growing up. Obviously I focused on them, but I knew where I was going: “I will play alongside them.” I also watched a lot of domestic football – Manchester United, Real Madrid, Valencia or the Italian league with AC Milan. I knew I was going to be a professional.

On making his debut for Portugal …

That week was one of the best of my life because I made my debut for Manchester United – one of the best clubs in the history of football – and then I made my debut for the national team. I played my first United match against Bolton [16 August 2003] and that same week I also broke into the national team [v Kazakhstan, 20 August 2003]. Everything came very quickly. It was a special moment in my life, getting my first international cap here in Portugal.

On Portugal losing to Greece in the final of UEFA EURO 2004 …

That was a difficult moment, because losing a match, especially here in Portugal, against Greece – we knew we had a unique opportunity to become European champions. But that’s a part of football. Football has taught me a lot of things: nothing is certain. What is true today can be a lie tomorrow, a team can be very good one day and awful the next. So it’s all part of that. If it happened, it’s because God willed it and we have to think about the future: that the future of the national team will be positive and Portugal will win big things, like a European Championship or a World Cup.

On his relationship with the EURO …

It’s a good relationship. European Championships and World Cups are always special competitions. The final stages are always beautiful moments, unforgettable moments in a player’s career, so this will be another European Championship on my CV. Obviously I’m happy about it and I also feel privileged to have been able to participate in many final tournaments. And evidently it’s a delicate moment, a special moment because anything can happen. I think Portugal are in a good run of form, we had a very positive qualification.

On his footballing philosophy …

It’s with a lot of pride that I’ve played for the national team since I was 18 and obviously have set an example, not only in Portugal but also around the world. My priority is always to play my football and do what I can do well. And obviously off the pitch my priority is to always have a good image, especially for the children, because we are their role models and they take a lot from us.

source:uefa