Ronaldo rebooted: Cristiano first came to the UK as a pimply youth

Ronaldo rebooted: Cristiano first came to the UK as a pimply youth with his mum but he returns as a father-of-four who’s the king of a £1billion empire after signing for Manchester United again in £19m deal

  • An 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo first came here in 2003 with his mum, Dolores
  • Now Portuguese star, 36, is back as a dad-of-four who’s the king of a £1bn empire
  • Ronaldo brings his four children and a Spanish partner, Georgina Rodriguez, 27 

It is almost 18 years ago to the day that a callow teenager called Cristiano Ronaldo – chaperoned by his mum – signed with Manchester United. Tony Blair was Prime Minister. Prince Harry had just left Eton and was on his gap year in Australia.

How life changes. And just occasionally, it turns full circle.

Ronaldo is back at Old Trafford. The difference now is that he is being paid £385,000 a week and mum Dolores is no longer always at his side.

The 36-year-old Portuguese star has his own brood of four children and a Spanish partner, Georgina Rodriguez, 27.

And Family Ronaldo is like no other. Three children were born by surrogate, while Miss Rodriguez gave birth to their youngest, Alana Martina.

An 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo first came here in 2003 as a pimply youth chaperoned by his mother Dolores to sign with Manchester United (pictured together)

Ronaldo’s exceptional fatherhood journey began in 2010 when Cristiano Jr was born in San Diego, California. The birth came out of the blue and was all the more surprising because the footballer was dating Russian model Irina Shayk.

Confirming Miss Shayk wasn’t the mother, Ronaldo said: ‘As agreed with the baby’s mother, who prefers to have her identity kept confidential, my son will be under my exclusive guardianship.’

Father and identikit son Cristianinho (little Cristiano), who is now 11, lived together but day-to-day care was the responsibility of Granny Dolores.

That arrangement continued until 2016 when Miss Rodriguez, a model who was working in a branch of Gucci in Madrid, arrived on the scene.

A year later, Ronaldo used a surrogate to have twins Eva and Mateo. Again, the births were in California. And if that didn’t seem bizarre enough, a month later, he and Miss Rodriguez announced they were expecting. Four months later, she gave birth to daughter Alana.

2021: Now he’s back at Old Trafford 18 years later as a dad-of-four who’s the preening king of a £1bn empire and is being paid £385,000 a week. Pictured: Making his debut for Man U in 2003

TEAM SHOT: Ronaldo brings with him his four children, Cristiano Jr, twins Eva and Mateo, and youngest, Alana Martina, as well as his Spanish partner, Georgina Rodriguez, 27

The family may be an extraordinary, very modern one, but then Cristiano Ronaldo is never a man to do things by halves. A glance at his gilded, blingy world through photos on social media show a life spent in private jets, multi-million pound yachts and being feted by fans wherever he goes.

‘Cristiano is a great father,’ says a friend. ‘He sees fatherhood as his greatest privilege.’

Certainly, his children are absurdly privileged. Their dad is worth an estimated £1 billion thanks to big-money football contracts, brand endorsements and his own company, CR7, which owns everything from aftershaves to hotels to underpants. But Ronaldo wants to keep his youngsters humble.

A few years ago, he took Cristianinho to see the tiny flat he lived in when he moved to the Portuguese capital Lisbon from the island of Madeira to try to make it as a footballer. 

‘My son turned to me and said: “Papa. Did you live here?” He could not believe it,’ Ronaldo recalled. ‘They think everything is easy in this world. The quality of life, the houses, the cars, the clothes… They think that it all just falls into their lap.’

Life in Manchester is expected, initially, to be based at the city’s five-star Lowry Hotel until the family find a permanent home. Most likely, it will be in the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ area of Cheshire, which includes the towns and villages of Wilmslow, Knutsford, Alderley Edge and Prestbury.

Wayne Rooney lives there, as do Manchester United players Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.

Ronaldo used to live there: he sold the mansion he owned in the area during his first stint at Old Trafford, before he left for Real Madrid in 2009.

One requirement is that the new property must have space for some of his 19 supercars, including two Ferraris, two McLarens and two Rolls-Royces.

Handily, the area is less than 15 minutes from Manchester Airport where Ronaldo can use his private jet. Friends say the children are likely to go to one of the fee-paying schools in the area. It’s said that one factor in Ronaldo’s surprise move was that he wants them to have ‘an English education’.

A possible school is £12,000-a-year Ryley’s, though there are many fine grammar schools in the region. Should Ronaldo and Miss Rodriguez decide to wed during their time in Manchester, the Salford Catholic Cathedral would be a popular choice.

PUTTING ON THE STYLE: The footballer with former model Georgina, who was working in a branch of Gucci in Madrid when she met the footballer in 2016

While Granny Dolores remains at her home in Madeira, the rest of Family Ronaldo will join the player in Manchester once all visas are approved. Miss Rodriguez hinted that she can’t wait, yesterday posting on Instagram a photograph of a Louis Vuitton suitcase, as if to send a message that she’s packed and on her way.

Friends say Ronaldo’s personal assistant, Ricky Regufe, may join him in England, while his mega-bucks agent Jorge Mendes stays in Portugal, having choreographed a transfer deal to match the one of Ronaldo’s great rival, Lionel Messi, who last month secured a contract with Paris Saint-Germain on a £30 million net salary.

It is not known whether Ronaldo’s close friend Bedr Hari, a Moroccan kickboxer once described as the footballer’s ‘cuddle pal’, will relocate to England.

It is possible some of the dramas behind Ronaldo’s transfer could be shown on Miss Rodriguez’s forthcoming fly-on-the-wall documentary on Netflix.

An influencer with 24 million online followers – more than any woman in Spain – she began filming for the programme in the past few weeks.

Ronaldo is twice as old as he was when he first pulled on the red shirt of Manchester United. However, he has the body of a much younger man thanks to his ruthless fitness regime.

STRONG RESEMBLANCE: Ronaldo showing off his physique in a fun snap with son Cristiano Jr.

He avoids alcohol and sugar – eating a high-protein diet, with lots of wholegrain carbs, fruit and vegetables. He has a personal dietician and prefers to have six small meals a day (based on cod, steak or eggs) – one every three to four hours. He has described chicken as his ‘magic’ food.

He matches his strict nutritional routine with a gruelling workout method, concentrating mostly on his abdominal muscles.

It has certainly done the trick, with 334 million admiring followers on Instagram – more than any celebrity. American singer Ariana Grande has a mere 262 million and Kim Kardashian, 248 million.

Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United is bound to add to that number. And, of course, that translates into more money.

Despite assumptions he will be getting a cut from replica team shirt sales, he won’t. All the money will go to Adidas, United’s shirt maker which will benefit thanks to its £100 million-plus deal with the Premier League club. Manchester United will sell other Ronaldo merchandise directly which is likely to increase the club’s American owners’ takings by millions.

The move for the family to Manchester is expected to see them settle in the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ area of Cheshire – the towns and villages of Wilmslow, Knutsford, Alderley Edge and Prestbury. (pictured: Handbag hint from partner Georgina: we’re on our way!)

Ronaldo himself has lucrative deals with companies such as haircare brand Clear, football score app Livescore and the Madeira Tourist Board. Indeed, according to sources, he is so ‘endorsed out’ that he has to turn down many big-money deals. And after setting up his company name CR7 when still a teenager, the star has created his own business which brings in millions of pounds each year.

Central to the brand identity is for Ronaldo to wear the No 7 shirt for the team he plays for. However, another striker, Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, has that number at United, so Ronaldo may be forced to pick a different one – as he had to do when he first moved to Real Madrid.

CR7 has a range of aftershaves, the latest of which, Play It Cool, was launched last week. CR7 Game On, an eau de toilette, is sold as ‘a casual evening fragrance for the man who wants to own the night, with a bold and optimistic spirit’. 

The player also has a range of glasses and sunglasses, which he bills to ‘suit all generations’, and a chain of hotels called Pestana CR7. The latest in New York’s Times Square opened last month, adding to his portfolio in Madrid, Madeira and Lisbon.

Which leaves one obvious question… will Brand Ronaldo outlast the player himself in Manchester with the establishment of one of his luxury hotels in the city?

The answer is ‘most likely’, considering the star’s never-knowingly-undersold life philosophy is: ‘I’m living a dream that I never want to wake up from.’  

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