Every now and then, football witnesses players who are, simply put, special. Right from the very beginning of their careers, they would be destined for greatness and have that magical touch which sets them apart from their contemporaries. Cristiano Ronaldo is one such phenomenal player who defied the circumstances around him to reach the pinnacle of the game.
From being a wiry, talented teenager with great potential to one of the greatest to have played the game, Ronaldo has had quite an inspirational story. The Portuguese has come to be known for his commendable work ethic, discipline, and dedication to the game, apart from his obvious achievements on the pitch.
Ronaldo has seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, one European championship, and countless other laurels to his name. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is also the highest goalscorer in UCL history, amassing 130 strikes in Europe's premier competition.
The former Real Madrid legend remains an inspiration to many young footballers all over the world to date. Many players have spoken about their admiration for Ronaldo and how they've grown up trying to emulate their idol.
Here, we take a look at five wonderkids who grew up idolising Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
#5 Matthijs de Ligt | Juventus
Juventus star Matthijs de Ligt had a superb debut campaign in Turin after his move from AFC Ajax last summer. The centre-back joined the Bianconeri for a staggering €85.5m fee and has already shown why Juventus were happy to part ways with such an enormous price for the Dutchman.
The 21-year-old, who appeared nearly 40 times across all competitions for Juventus this year, admitted to being an admirer of the Portuguese since an early age. De Ligt went on to state that he wanted to be Cristiano Ronaldo even while kicking a ball with his friends in his backyard.
Ronaldo also played a pivotal role in De Ligt opting to join Juventus over the likes of Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Manchester United. The former Ajax man explained;
"Recently, when I had dinner with some childhood friends, we came to the conclusion that I always wanted to be Cristiano Ronaldo when we were playing football in the garden. That was especially in his time when he played at Manchester United. My first football shirt also belonged to him from that time."
De Ligt encountered his current teammate Ronaldo in the UEFA Nations League 2019 final, and the pair were pictured conversing after the game. When asked about this moment later, the 21-year-old revealed that Ronaldo asked him to join Juventus, which was a request that started De Ligt.
Speaking on the incident after the Nations League final, the Dutch defender revealed;
"Ronaldo asked me to go to Juventus. I was surprised by his request, which is why I laughed. I didn't understand him at first."
De Ligt is set to play alongside his idol for a second successive year in 2020/21 as Ronaldo has confirmed his intentions to stay at the Allianz Stadium amidst transfer speculation.
#4 Joao Felix | Atletico Madrid
Joao Felix broke onto the scene at SL Benfica two years ago as the most exciting Portuguese youngster produced by the nation since Cristiano Ronaldo. There was an evident uniqueness about the teenager, who seemed to have an intelligence of the game that isn't normal for someone his age.
Atletico Madrid saw enough evidence of his potential despite a small sample size and made him one of the most expensive players in the world last summer. Los Rojiblancos chose Felix as Barcelona-bound Antoine Griezmann's successor and purchased the Benfica attacker for a fee of €126m in 2019.
Despite his relatively underwhelming debut campaign in the Spanish capital, there is little doubt over Felix's talent and potential to become an all-conquering superstar. Given his nationality and position, the comparisons to a young Ronaldo were inevitable — and it doesn't come as a surprise that Felix idolised his homeland's finest.
Speaking to Portuguese outlet Record on his idol, Felix explained;
"Cristiano [Ronaldo] is my childhood idol, he is an example in everything for me. I was still a child and he was already the best player in the world. He is unique. He is making football history. I loved it when he said I was a phenomenon. At 20 years old I tell you that I’m not scared by the thought of reaching his level. Even if it seems impossible."
Felix, who scored nine goals for Atleti across all competitions, would hope to make his presence felt in Madrid in the 2020/21 campaign.
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