Dolores and Dinis are happy with their youngest son’s decision – they have always loved football. Dinis and his older son Hugo are Benﬁca fans, while Dolores adores Luís Figo and Sporting Lisbon.
In the 1994-95 season, nine-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro is awarded his ﬁrst sporting licence, number 17,182, from the Funchal football association, and dons the light blue strip for Andorinha. It’s a local club with a long history, founded on 6 May 1925. The name Andorinha is Portuguese for a swallow, which according to legend derives from one particular footballer’s superb shot which was followed by the ﬂight of a swallow.
Primary school teacher Francisco Afonso, who taught Cristiano’s sister Katia, has dedicated 25 years to coaching in the Madeira junior leagues. He was Ronaldo’s ﬁrst coach and he has never forgotten the ﬁrst time he saw him on the Andorinha pitch, age seven.
Club president Rui Santos tells a juicy anecdote about a match during the 1993-94 season: Andorinha versus Camacha, who at that time were one of the strongest teams on the island. At half-time Andorinha were losing 2-0 and "Ronaldo was so distraught that he was sobbing like a child who’s had his favourite toy conﬁscated. In the second half he came onto the pitch and scored two goals, leading the team to a 3-2 victory. He deﬁnitely did not like to lose. He wanted to win every time and when they lost he cried."
He was nicknamed 'cry-baby'. He cried and got angry very easily - if a team-mate didn't pass him the ball, if he or someone else missed a goal or a pass, or if the team team wasn't playing how he wanted
The other nickname he acquired was abelhinha, ‘little bee’, because he never stopped. Like a busy bee, he was always zig-zagging across the pitch.
"A footballer like Ronaldo doesn’t come along every day," adds Rui Santos. "And suddenly when he does, you realise he’s a superstar – different from all the other kids you’ve seen play."
Unfortunately Andorinha were one of the weakest teams in the league, and when they faced the likes of Maritimo, Camara de Lobos or Machico, the matches were something of a whitewash. Ronaldo didn’t want to play because he already knew they would lose. But his father would come home, cheer him up and persuade him to put his kit and boots on and join his team on the pitch.
Only the weak give up, he would say – and it was a lesson that little Ronaldo would never forget.
- Luca Caioli's book, Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection, is published by Corinthian Books and is out now. Order a UK copy here! Order a USA copy here!
With every extract published, Goal.com will be giving away one copy of Luca Caoili's new book. To have a chance of winning an ebook or hard copy of Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection, answer the following question: Where is Cristiano Ronaldo on the list of all-time Real Madrid goalscorers? Send answers to email@example.com - the winner will be announced in next Friday's extract.
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