When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived at Manchester United in 2003 as the most expensive teenager in English football history, few could have foreseen the 18-year-old becoming the world's best footballer. Teenage talents are often overhyped and fail to live up to expectation, but when Alex Ferguson called the Portuguese forward "one of the most exciting young players" he had ever seen, he started Ronaldo on a path to greatness. The move to Manchester saw Ronaldo included in FIFA for the first time, nestled between Fabian Barthez and Diego Forlan as substitutes in the game for the Red Devils.
Ronaldo's first video game iteration saw him receive an 80 overall rating in FIFA 04, but after an impressive debut season at Old Trafford and a goal in the FA Cup final, people began to take notice. By the time FIFA 05 arrived, Ronaldo had received a huge boost to his score with the game featuring his likeness including his then-trademark earrings.
With an overall rating of 88 and a potential rating in career mode of 98, EA Sports could see that Ronaldo was destined for greatness. As Ronaldo progressed in real life, he developed in each iteration of FIFA.
His likeness became more and more realistic, while his overall rating improved, with the 32-year-old now having the highest overall score in FIFA 18.
Since leaving Sporting CP, he has scored over 500 goals at club level for Manchester United and Real Madrid and has become the fifth highest international goalscorer of all time. Ronaldo's greatness has seen him lift four Champions League trophies, the European Championship and he is set to win his fifth Ballon d'Or this year.
There is no doubting his credentials as one of the greatest players of all time, with his appearance as the FIFA 18 cover star cementing his status on a global scale. The biggest football video game in the world deserves to have the biggest footballer in the world on its cover.
The special 'Ronaldo Edition' or 'Icon Edition' (with Ronaldo's Brazilian namesake on the cover) of FIFA 18 even allows gamers to play the game three days early, bursting onto the scene in brilliant style like the Portuguese teenager did way back in FIFA 04.
After many years of improvement, FIFA 18 provides the perfect Ronaldo experience. Everything from his free-kick stance to his trademark running style and even his famous celebrations are incorporated in FIFA 18. When he stands over the ball for a free-kick, it really feels like he's taking the set-piece - something EA Sports have continuously developed as the game has evolved. When he first appeared in FIFA 04, he had 77 shot power and 75 shot accuracy and could find the net regularly. By his last season in the Premier League in FIFA 09, his stance had been added to the game, while his free-kick accuracy of 93 was incorporated into the new game mechanics. FIFA 18 is the most realistic version yet.
There are new stadium effects and graphical presentation upgrades to make it feel like you're watching a real match on television, while the players themselves are even more lifelike than ever before. You could almost be confused for thinking that actually IS Ronaldo in your sitting room.
Since the introduction of FIFA Ultimate Team in FIFA 10, where Ronaldo received a 93 overall rating, he has long been one of the most sought-after cards in the game.
Players building their Ultimate Team aspire to own a Ronaldo, particularly one of the rare In-Form versions, which are awarded in Teams of the Week or for being included in the FIFPro World XI or La Liga Team of the Season.
Since the launch of FIFA Ultimate Team, Ronaldo's form has been so incredible that he has had over 40 different upgraded versions. This has included editions with the maximum 99 rating in FIFA 16, FIFA 17, and two different 99 cards in FIFA 18!
With his 94 base card, Ronaldo is the best player in FIFA 18. And that's before he even gets an upgraded edition. The 32-year-old has started the season in his usual impressive form, netting twice in Real Madrid's Champions League opener against APOEL to set the new record for most penalties scored (12) in the Champions League, while also improving on his own record of the most goals scored in the competition - his 107 Champions League goals puts him 11 clear of his nearest rival, Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo's Champions League and La Liga winning season last year with Real Madrid is sure to see him win yet another Ballon d'Or as well as guarantee inclusion in the FIFPro World XI for the 11th season in a row. Yet another 99-rated Ronaldo awaits!
FIFA 18 promises to be the biggest and best FIFA yet, with the Journey mode expanded on from its debut season - now including interaction with Ronaldo as you continue your playing career as Alex Hunter. Most of us dream of meeting Ronaldo or seeing him in real life, but with FIFA 18, you can get closer to reality than ever, giving you the next best thing to actually playing alongside Ronaldo.
Even better, in FIFA 18, you can BE Ronaldo. Isn't that what we all really dream of anyway?