Is Athletic Bilbao’s Cantera Policy Leading Them to Relegation

Founder members Athletic Bilbao (along with traditional Spanish superpowers Real Mardrid and Barcelona) are the only club that has never been relegated from the Primera Division since the league was founded in 1928. This statistic is remarkable considering the Basque club’s policy of never buying a non – Basque player.

This tie with tradition could come back to haunt the Rojiblancos who find themselves in the relegation zone following a string of defeats. Founded by Sunderland miners (hence their red and white stripes and their name being the English Athletic rather than Atletico), Bilbao narrowly retained their top flight status last term but this season the squad lacks quality and could find themselves dropping to Segunda for the first time in their illustrious history.

The pro-Basque policy known as cantera is upheld because of their patriotic fans and stems from the time of Franco when the Basque culture and language was suppressed. Strangely Athletic have had foreign managers in the past most notably Howard Kendall in the 1980’s.

The development of cantera as a policy resulted from both a revival in Basque nationalism and the emergence of the Basque Country. Supporting the club became a legitimate way of expressing Basque nationalism, especially during the Franco years after the Spanish Civil War.

The cantera policy (which unofficially started in 1912) is seen by many neutrals as restricting Bilbao’s progress and crippling the clubs ambitions. Their ethical policy of only allowing Basque born players to represent them is admirable, but costing them dear (as the threat of relegation hangs over the club).

Atheltic Bilbao do not have a sponsor and this highly commendable effort to stay as a people’s club is looking more and more unrealistic in what is the strongest La Liga in recent memory. Following a history including 8 league titles and 24 Copa Del Reys, Athletic could next season be challenging for a new competition – the Segunda Division title.

The majority of Athletic Bilbao’s passionate fans at the San Mames stadium would prefer their club to be relegated than end their policy of Cantera. Unfortunately for the most traditional top level club side in Europe, a real lack of quality will probably see the club do one or the other – buy some none-Basque players or suffer relegation.

The hope is that they can survive and continue their traditional values – something that is all too scarce in modern day football.

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Football – No Where to Hide!

There is a game full of passion and excitement. A game where anything can change in 30 seconds. A game called ‘FOOTBALL’. I can proudly say that it is the ‘in’ thing in the sporting world. The popularity of football is increasing at a very fast rate in India. A country which is fully engulfed in cricket has started to finally bend towards football. Here, football can be considered as breath of fresh air. Different football academies are trying to increase the craze further by having competitions and coaching programs for the children.

Many professional players have also visited India in the last few years giving a wealth of knowledge to everyone interested in the game.

One would also remember that recently Germany’s most decorated club Bayern Munich came to India to play against East Bengal in a friendly. The match was witnessed by a full crowd. All these activities are only going to increase the fan base of football in India.

People of all age groups are interested in the game including the girls. This is one sport you can talk about with your girlfriend. Many different football leagues in the world also have women’s football team which is further creating interest in girls. Girls are also keeping track of football matches through the usage of internet. All sort of information is available on the net relating to any form of football.

Even the film industry is doing its part in creating soccer mania. Films like bend it like Beckham, in which a woman aspires to be a footballer just like David Beckham has created a stir among women about football, or Goal (international version) showed a man willing to do anything to play football, or Goal (Indian Version) which also showed how Indians living in England love to play football etc. This is not all, even the actors in bollywood like John Abraham, who has a large female following has be supporting football on television. He was also present in the commercial for euro championships which are currently going on. All this shows that football fever is going to affect not only in India but globally.

The craze is so much that you can notice a significant increase in clubs jerseys in India. On the streets, one of every 5 person will have a football jersey on. This sudden surge only supports the fact that football is the ‘in’ thing. The euro championships have taken the craze of football to the next level. Everywhere you go you can see hoardings of football players or teams on the walls or the malls etc. All in all the tournament has given a boost of football to the people and after the tournament is over, there would be the start of the football season with the leagues like Premier League, La Liga, Seria A etc will get started. All this keeps the fans craving for more.

Also the mobile companies have come up with schemes that help you keep track of your favorite team wherever you go. You can check live scores, match updates, live commentary, in-depth analysis by the pundits etc on the go. The internet has also played a pivotal role in creating football mania. Many informative sites like gives the viewers all the information needed in knowing about football, keeps us up to date with current transfer news occurring around the world, what all is happening in FIFA community etc. You can even check how your team is doing while checking your e-mail as many sites sent you latest news as when it happens. Many sites also have competitions section where you can test your knowledge about football. TV shows also help bring football to the viewers from different countries, most notably being nokia football crazy.

All in all I would like to say that the FIFA mania will never end and you should also be part of it if you don’t want be a social outcast. I would like to finish off with a quote that’s says enough about the passion of football.

«Some people think that football is a matter of life and death, I am disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you my friend, it is much more that that.»

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Cristiano Ronaldo – Read the Biography on Cristiano Ronaldo

Son of Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro and José Dinis Aveiro, Cristiano Ronaldo was born on February 5, 1985 in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal to the name Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. His second name Ronaldo was given to him by his father, who was a great admirer of U.S. president Ronald Regan. The youngest of four children, Cristiano Ronaldo has three siblings; an older brother Hugo and two sisters; Elma and Liliana Cátia who works as a singer in Portugal by the stage name Ronalda.

The Portuguese footballer who plays for Barclays Premier League 2006-2007, 2007-2008 Champions and winner of the 2007-2008 Champions League; Manchester United. Wearing the number 7 shirt, he plays as a winger, a central attacker and as a second forward. His passion for football was seen as early as age three and by age six when he started primary school this passion became even more obvious. His football career started at age eight when he first played for an amateur team Andorinha, for which his father was the kit man. In 1995 at just ten years old, his reputation grew in Portugal, this saw the two top teams in Madeira, in CS Marítimo and CD Nacional showing a keen interest in signing the youngster. He signed for CD Nacional and after a title winning season; he went on a three day trial at Sporting who immediately signed him for an undisclosed sum of money.

While at Sporting the Portuguese winger trained at the club’s football factory, the Alcochete; where his skills were nurtured. Though his progression at the club was obstructed by his growth, Cristiano Ronaldo became the only player in the club’s history to represent the Under-16, Under-17, Under-18, B team and first-team all in the same season. He scored two goals on his debut for Sporting against Moreirense and featured in Portugal’s Under 17 team for the UEFA Under 17 Championships. His appearance for Portugal at these championships sparked the interest of Liverpool’s then manager Gérard Houllier at the age of 16 but Houllier refused to sign him because he was deemed too young.

However, in 2003 the winger caught the eye of Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson when Sporting beat Manchester United 3-1 in a match that marked the inauguration of the Alvalade XXI stadium in Lisbon. With the departure of David Beckham, Manchester needed a right winger and he was signed for a fee of £12.24 million, becoming the Manchester United’s first Portuguese player ever. The Portuguese winger made his first appearance for the Red Devils at Old Trafford in a 4-0 win. He scored his first goal for Manchester United in the 2004 FA Cup Final against Millwall FC, the winger also scored Manchester United’s 1000th goal in a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in October 2005. At the end of the season, he had a tally of 10 goals and was voted by fans to be FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year 2005, an award he also won in 2006.

In the summer of 2006, the Portugal winger was at the center of a controversy with fellow Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney; when both teams met in the world cup quarter finals. The incident saw Rooney being shown a red card and the resulting elimination of England from the world cup on penalties; the last of which was taken by the winger. Despite the incident both players remained friends and in November 2006, he won the Barclays Player of the Month award again an award he also won in December 2006. He scored his 50th goal for Manchester United which proved to be the decisive goal that gave Manchester United their first Premiership title in four years against rivals Manchester City.

In April 2007, the Portuguese national signed a new five year deal worth £120,000 a week, making him the highest paid player in Manchester United’s history. Among his accolades, the Portuguese footballer won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the PFA Young Player of the Year awards, the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year, the Football Writers’ Association Award and 2007 Portuguese Footballer of the Year at the end of his 2006-2007 season at Old Trafford.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2007-2008 season for the Barclays Premier League Champions saw him exceeding George Best’s forty year old record for the most goals scored by a midfielder in a season, at 32 goals by scoring 42 goals in all competitions helping Manchester United to back to back Premiership titles and the coveted UEFA Champions League title. Ronaldo who also placed third in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards in 2007 will be looking to place first in the same awards this year as he has proven to be the best player on the planet, with this season’s stellar performances. Cristiano Ronaldo however had a very disappointing Euro 2008 campaign with Portugal, which saw him scoring only one goal for his country that was eliminated by Germany in the quarter finals. He has also been linked to a lucrative transfer deal worth approximately EUR100 million euros to La Liga giants Real Madrid.

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Football Player’s Position

If we are talking about playing football, I think most of us want to be a striker or forward player, it’s because we think that the striker is the best position in the game and the others just for supporting the striker. And also we think that the striker is a hero for the team because he makes scores and finally wins the game. Sometimes common people say that they win only because of the Forward players or the strikers. But actually, their assumption is wrong, because the main thing that is important in football game is teamwork. Each player in the game must be discipline and do their duty based on their position. Without that, the play will be bad and the team won’t win the game.

In football game, basically we know about 4 positions of players; Goalkeeper (GK), Defender (DF), Midfielder (MF), and Forward or Striker (FW). In each position, they have their main duty in a game. So, what are actually the characteristics of each of them? Okay, let’s check it out.

The first position is a Goalkeeper. Goalkeeper is a position which has a main task to protect the goal post from opponent attack. This position actually is placed in the back of the others position. So, he just stands under the goal post and blocks the ball that comes to the goal. The characteristic of this position is goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball with his hand.

The second position is a Defender or we usually call it as Back. Someone in this position has main task to protect their area from opponent attack. The position of back is in front of the goalkeeper. Usually in a game, defender is divided into two; Center Back (CB) and Side Back (SB). Center Back is a player who stands in the middle of defense area and in front of the goalkeeper. This kind of position holds the biggest responsibility in team after the Goalkeeper. Then the Side Back is a player who plays in the side of the defense area. Sometimes, this kind of position is helpful when attacking.

The next position is Midfielder. I think this is the most flexible position in the match. Because someone in this position can do everything, both attacking and defending. The midfielders play in the middle of the field. And also, midfielder is a position that is very important in a team. Because, they can make the defender are connected to the forward players. It means that the midfielders are the Playmakers in the game. Actually in the real game, the midfielder is divided into 4 positions; Center Midfielder (CMF), Defending Midfielder (DMF), Attacking Midfielder (AMF), and Side Midfielder. CMF tends to make the beautiful play by giving pass to others teammate. While DMF tends to more help the defender to defense. It means this kind of player is more defensive. Then an AMF is the contrary of DMF. It means that this player is more offensive. And the last is SMF, this player can both defending and attacking in the side of the field. This kind of player is usually called as a Winger.

And the fourth position in football game is a Striker or Forward player. This player has the main task to make scores by driving the ball into the goal post. In this position, the player should have good instinct and can make good positioning. And the Striker should be able to maximize the chance to make a score, because in the real game, the striker is always kept by opponent player.

By knowing about the characteristics of football players, we can conclude that, each position have their own duty and role in playing football. It means that the striker that cannot bring the team into victory without support from their teammate. Also the team cannot win the game without the participation of strikers. So we can say that all types of position in the game are important and each of them cannot stands alone, it means that the most important thing is teamwork. Without that, I think it is hard to reach victory.

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The New Portal ChuckNoRisk Combines Sport Analyses With Betting Tips

Berlin, 28/02/18 – Chuck No Risk can do everything! With Chuck No Risk there is one thing that readers can especially do: Not to loose. The new sports website ChuckNoRisk combines the latest information on football and more with bookmaker comparisons. With statistical data, the club’s and player’s play level and form can be determined. On the other side you find pros and cons for the individual betting companies. This way, sports and betting enthusiasts don’t miss out on neither the next top matches nor the best free bet offer.

Football database with more than 25.000 players and 900 teams

Chuck No Risk also offers a wide range of content for sport enthusiasts, who are not interested in betting. Preliminary reports on the English Premier League, the first four German Leagues, Spanish LaLiga, French League 1, italian Serie A, the turkish Süperlig, russian Premjer-Liga, the Champion and European League and the latest top sport events can be found among other things, as well as data analyses on current sport topics. An elaborated database including data on 27 leagues offers readers a broad overview on the current performance capability of the clubs and the players.

Chuck No Risk offers international Flair

Like many football players, Chuck No Risk does not want to play only on national level. The portal, that was launched in August 2018 in German and English, will be available in several other languages in the next years.
«In medium-term we want to cover 10-15 languages», says chief editor Benjamin Lode. «Chuck No Risk should become one of the leading international portals for sports and sports betting». So turkish, french, spanisch, russian or greek language versions will follow soon.

Ambitious goals! But what else can you expect of Chuck?

Sport news from Berlin

The portal is operated by the Berlin based content agency Monstertipp GmbH. The team of 11 editors with experience from big magazines and newspapers, such as, and combines expertise and knowledge in sports and the online segment. The content is optimised for our readers as well as for search engines. This is how the Chuck No Risk texts find their readers – and the other way around! is operated by the:
Monstertipp GmbH
Reichenberger Str. 125
10999 Berlin – Germany

Responsible for press inquiries:
Tel. 0049 30 74073145

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Money Speaks Volumes

The European Cup or UEFA Champions League, as it is now know, is a cash cow that eclipses every other Cup competition in the world in terms of money. The revamped trophy is set to generate 750 millions Euros (£502 million) gross this season. But is UEFA’s flag ship competition killing off home grown domestic Cups and the UEFA Cup?

This season UEFA are going to make in excess of 750m Euros (£502m) from the Champions League, with TV rights sold to 230 markets (with Italy’s RAI and Spain’s Antenna networks signing up for first time) and also from their commercial partners. UEFA have also increased the number of their official commercial partners from four to six as Vodafone and Sony have joined PlayStation, Ford, Heineken and MasterCard.

If you look into how UEFA distribute the money from the Champions League, you will find out why the competition is so appealing to the hundreds of clubs vying for qualification for the tournament each season.

This season UEFA have promised to distribute up to 530m Euros between the 32 clubs which qualified for the group stages. There is a minimum of 4.4m Euros just for being in the group stage, with a further 600,000 Euros at stake per game for a win and 300,000 Euros each for a draw.

A further 10.5m Euros will be distributed to clubs eliminated in the qualifiers, such as Northern Ireland’s Linfield. The amount they will receive is peanuts to some clubs (like those from La Liga, Serie A etc), but to a club of Linfields size it is a small windfall.

Going back to the group stages – clubs which qualify for the last 16 get another 2.2m Euros and another 2.5m Euros for reaching the quarter finals. Clubs who reach the semi finals earn another 3m Euros and if they win the trophy earn 7m Euros or 4m Euros for losing.

The Champions League with all its financial benefits has become a dominant feature in football as clubs race for the qualifying places in their domestic league. This is because they believe the financial rewards are more important then winning silverware.

Take Italian Serie A club Palermo for example, their chairman, Maurizio Zamparini, has stated on numerous occasions this season that the UEFA Cup is secondary to qualifying for next seasons Champions League.

He wants the club to take advantage of Juventus and AC Milan being out of contention of a top four finish in Serie A (due to this summers match fixing scandal) and sees this as an ideal opportunity for his club to finish in the top four.

Due to Zamparini placing Champions League qualification above everything else, Palermo have been fielding a second string side in this seasons UEFA Cup (further devaluing the competition in some peoples eyes).

Other Italian Serie A clubs take a similar approach to the Copa De Italia and field second string sides. This is also the case in Spain when some La Liga clubs adopt the same approach in the Copa Del Rey.

In England the League Cup is seen as a distraction to many Premiership clubs who have ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League. This has resulted (over the past ten years) in many top tier clubs fielding their reserves in the competition.

At first it was mainly Premiership clubs adopting this approach (mainly Manchester United and Arsenal), but some Championship sides have taken lead this season (Birmingham City are a prime example).

Managers will claim that this is to give fringe/youth players experience but commentators have suggested this is to keep players fresh for important league matches in the race for European qualification.

There are even some suggestions that the FA Cup is going to go down the same route as the League Cup, as the trophy in the eyes of some Premiership clubs simply is not worth the hassle. A club can expect to receive £3m if they lift the trophy and in terms of Champions League qualification the financial reward is not worth it.

If a manager had a domestic semi final Cup tie midweek and an important match at the weekend against a key rival in European qualification, where would his priorities lie? On the one hand he has a Cup match that could earn potential prize money of £3m (if they lift the trophy on reaching the final) and on the other a match that could see them cement Champions League qualification and net £10m.

It is sad to say that the majority of Europe’s big clubs are starting to put money before silverware. They would rather qualify for the Champions League at the expense of winning a domestic Cup.

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Chelsea Season Preview 2008

Of all the ‘Big 4’ clubs, the season ahead should be most interesting for Chelsea. After all, they’ve got a new coach in Big Phil Scholari and it looks like they will also have a new-look squad as well. But can Roman’s Blue Army continue to compete at the very top?

As I write this article, no major names have exited Stamford Bridge but the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba might well end up somewhere else come the start of the season which would be a tremendous blow to Chelsea. These two players have been central to their success over recent seasons and keeping them would represent more of a coup than bringing in any of the global superstars Chelsea have been linked with. The reason is that they’re already tried and tested in the squad and in the Premiership and you know that they will do the business over the course of a season.

Last season saw some notable flops at Chelsea, most notably Florent Malouda who came in from Lyon and never really hit the heights that were expected of him. If you consider he was supposed to be a replacement for Arjen Robben, then it further highlights how disappointing Malouda actually was. A big plus for Chelsea though was the emergeance of Micheal Ballack as a true Premiership star. His first season was a let down with so many fans expecting big things from the German skipper, but particularly towards the end of last season he showed himself to be one of the top players in the league. If Chelsea can get a good season out of him, then it will make all the difference to their success.

Who do Chelsea need to bring in? Well, if they lose Drogba then they certainly need a forward to lead the line. It is possible that Chelsea could revert to a 4-4-2 system for the first time in many years if Big Phil does play the kind of attacking football we expect him to. If this is the case then two big name forwards might well be required depending on whether Anelka is up to the job. Deco is a name that has been heavily linked to Chelsea and his arrival would be a great coup for both Chelsea and the Premiership.

As much as I can see Chelsea football shirts regaining the gold Premiership badge by making the right signings and landing on their feet this year, I can also invisage them getting it totally wrong and slipping down the Premiership pecking order. If I had to make a prediction, I’d say they’ll finish third or fourth in the Premiership, but make a big impact on the European stage. However, I’m fully prepared to be wrong on this one.

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Galacticos at Real Madrid Ready to Take on Barcelona

The return of Florentino Perez as chairman of Real Madrid sees the policy of signing big-name stars – or galacticos – back at the Bernabeu as Los Blancos look to challenge Barcelona in the La Liga and on the European stage.

Last season was Barcelona’s most successful in a long time a Josep Guardiola – in his first year as manager – led the Catalan spearheaded by Lionel Messi to success in La Liga, the Champions League and the Spanish domestic cup – the first time a Spanish club has won those three trophies in one year.

Perez has signaled his intent to challenge Barcelona early on by breaking the world record transfer fee twice. First, the Brazilian Kaka was signed from AC Milan for £56million before Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo was bought for £80m. This mirrors Real Madrid’s transfer activity when Perez first took over the club in 2000, when he signed Luis Figo for a then record fee of £37m before breaking that record the following year when he purchased Zinedine Zidane from Juventus for £46m.

As well as Kaka and Ronaldo, Real Madrid has confirmed the signing of Raul Albiol, the Valencia centre back. In his previous tenure, Perez was criticised for his buying policy as he tended to focus on attacking players too heavily and, indeed, the sale of defensive midfielder Claude Makelele to Chelsea is seen by many to be the downfall of Real Madrid after a promising start to Perez’s presidency.

The 2008-09 season saw Barcelona lauded for playing attractive, attacking football and as well as winning a historic treble, the club beat fierce rivals Real Madrid 2-6 in the El Clasico derby – this is the most goals scored by Barca in this fixture and the biggest win since the 1970s when Johan Cruyff led Barcelona to a 0-5 win.

Before the start of the season, a motion of no confident was raised club president Joan Laporta who narrowly survived the attempt to oust him. Spurred into action, he made major changes to the playing staff and brought in former player Guardiola to take charge of them.

This brought great success to the club and many eyes are looking to the Catalan club to see what their next move is. By the end of June, they had yet to make any additions to their squad although journalists had written about many players taking Barcelona flights to join the Spanish and European champions as they look to fend off a new challenge from Real Madrid.

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The Story Of The Premier League

The English Premier League (EPL) is a top flight league for association football teams, in England. The League is run as a corporation of which the 20 member clubs are shareholders.

Every season, matches start in August and go on till May the next year. Each team plays every other team, once at its home venue and once away, thereby playing 38 matches in all, which translates into 380 matches played mainly on weekends, with occasional week day matches.

The League is sponsored by Barclays Bank, and is officially known as the Barclays Premier League.

The 80’s marked a low point in English football, when the football infrastructure began to crumble, English players’ standards fell, as compared to those of European players, and football hooliganism became rife.

The lowest point was reached when English football teams were banned for 5 years from 1985. Things took a turn for the better when England performed well at the 1990 World Cup, reaching the Semifinals. Also, after the Hayworth tragedy, a decision was made to improve the infrastructure of stadia across Britain.

The EPL was formed in 1992 by teams that decided to break away from the Football League, founded in 1888. Their chief incentive was a television rights deal. They would also be free to negotiate their own sponsorship agreements.

However, the television rights are sold collectively. From 1996-97 onwards, the tournament has been dominated by the big four, namely, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Manchester united have never featured outside the top three, in any Premiership season.

This is the story of one of the world’s richest Football Leagues, with the combined revenues exceeding 3 billion dollars, per annum. It is also the highest rated league in Europe by UEFA, ahead of Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A.

Since 1888, 23 teams have won the football league. The EPL which has completed 18 seasons has had 4 winners. Manchester United has won it 11 times, Arsenal and Chelsea, 3 times each, and Blackburn Rovers, once.

Once the EPL came into existence, the relationship between the Premier League and the Football league was exactly simlar to that between first and second division footbal in the previous era.

Initially there were 22 teams. This was reduced to 20 in 1995 when four teams got relegated and only 2 teams were promoted from the Football League (now called the Championship League).

Thereafter FIFA wanted all European leagues to have no more than 18 teams, a move that has been resisted by the EPL.

Of the 20 teams that take part in a EPL season, the bottom three are relegated and replaced the next year by the top three teams in the Champions League, (the finalists and the winners of the third place play off).

The top four teams of the EPL qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the top three directly entering the group stage.

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Real Madrid’s New Signing – A Profile of Cristiano Ronaldo

As if going to a match at the Bernabéu Stadium to watch Real Madrid wasn’t a big enough attraction anyway, the club has now gone and smashed the world transfer record to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to La Liga.

A staggering £80 million has gone to Manchester United to acquire the World Player of the Year – a sum that the Madrid club consider to be great value for money, considering the skill that the player possesses on the pitch. And, of course, the moneymaking potential he brings off it.

Footballers, of course, always polarise opinion. Fans of one club are notoriously reluctant to praise players from a bitter rival; preferring to promote their own team members. I remember last season, Marca, Real Madrid’s mouthpiece, for several weeks proclaiming that Arjen Robben could statistically be shown to be a far better player than Lionel Messi, for example.

Few polarise opinions quite so much as Cristiano Ronaldo, though. Whilst many are prepared to acknowledge that he is currently the world’s best player, fewer people are willing to say equally positive things about the man himself. This despite Sir Alex Ferguson publicly stating that he’d love the player to return to Old Trafford one day and for univseral appreciation that he has spent hours on the training pitches honing his skills. Why is it that so many football supporters want to criticise Ronaldo for ‘diving’ and histrionics? Let’s face it, he’s hardly the first footballer to try to get penalties when slightly nudged in the box or to throw a tantrum when substitued, is he?

Famously born in 1985 on the beautiful island of Madeira, in Funchal, the capital city, Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro is the youngest of four children. It says much about his parents that Ronaldo gained his name because of the fact that Ronald Reagan was his father’s favourite actor, apparently! Readers are invited to insert their own chimpanzee jokes at this stage. Playing amateur football from the age of eight, he then went across to mainland Portugal after signing for Sporting Lisbon. It was in the friendly against Manchester United that marked the refurbishment of the team’s stadium in preparation for Euro 2004, that Ronaldo first impressed the manager of Sporting’s opponents that day, Sir Alex Ferguson – who then went on to sign the player for over £12 million when he was just 18 years old.

This was a big gamble on such an inexperienced youngster, but one which repaid Ferguson’s faith in the player’s undoubted talents. Ronaldo, initially criticised as being something of a ‘show pony’ by many observers, developed into an impressive goal scoring and goal-making phenomenon. During his time at Manchester he helped United win the Premier League title for three consecutive years and also the European Champions’ League. He was transformed from being a slightly frail looking teenager into a strong, athletic player who, despite the attention he receives from defenders, misses few games through injury.

His seemingly inflammatory behaviour towards Wayne Rooney must have made life difficult for him at Old Trafford for a time – as did his pleadings to leave during and after the 2008 European Championships. But not once did his enormous self-belief waver and he soon won back the support of fans and team-mates alike. And as for the opposing fans booing him – well, like many great players, Ronaldo seems to be inspired by it rather than intimidated.

Cristiano Ronaldo has nothing left to prove on the football pitch. He’s won everything as an individual – World Player of the Year, Ballon d’Or, PFA Player of the Year, etc, etc. And, although the Portuguese national team that he now captains is going through a comparatively sticky patch, his impact on the teams he represents is always second to none.

All that remains for him is to play for the club he supported as a child and for whom his mother Dolores clearly wanted him to sign. Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are obviously made for each other – he looks very much at home in the all white strip and the full stadium that greeted his public unveiling showed how much the Madrid public yearned for his signing. Now we have to find out whether he can have the same impact on Madrid’s fortunes as he did on Manchester United’s. It might be a bit more difficult – but it’s going to be fun watching.

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