Cristiano Ronaldo has it all – the career, talent, fame and fortune.
The super-popular soccer star is among the world’s richest – he is worth a staggering US$500 million (approx. $678 million) – and the most followed person on Instagram (429 million followers and counting).
But despite his wealth and successes, Ronaldo is not immune to heartache.
The 37-year-old announced on April 29 that he and his girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez, lost their newborn twin son.
The couple said in a statement that they are finding “strength” that their daughter was born safely, but the loss of their baby son is still a massive cross to bear.
Even sadder is the fact Ronaldo has experienced other heartbreak in his life.
From undergoing heart surgery at just 15 to the death of his estranged father, here are the other hardships Ronaldo has faced.
Heart surgery at age 15
Ronaldo’s career was almost over before it had even begun. As a teenager, the budding soccer star was faced with the very real possibility he would not achieve his sporting dreams after he was diagnosed with tachycardia, whereby one’s heart would beat irregularly, sometimes 100 beats a minute.
Because his heart raced a lot even when he was not playing on the soccer field, Ronaldo required heart surgery. He was just 15 when they operated on him.
“They used a sort of laser to cauterise the source of the problem. He was operated on in the morning and came out at the end of the afternoon,” his mother, Maria Dolores Aveiro, told the Daily Mail in 2009. Within days he was back at training.
Lost his father at 20
Despite legions of fans cheering him on from the stands whenever he took to the field for powerhouse teams including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus, one person who was never present was his father, former soldier José Dinis Aveiro.
José was a soldier who fought in Africa before returning to their native Portugal after fighting for his country. Upon his return, it’s believed he started experiencing personal problems and turned to alcohol.
In a previous interview with Piers Morgan, Ronaldo broke down as he revealed he never got to properly know his father due to his alcoholism. Growing up, Ronaldo said they were so estranged that they never even had a proper conversation.
“But I really don’t know my father 100 per cent. He was a drunk person. I never spoke with him, like a normal conversation. It was hard,” he told Morgan.
José would die in 2005 from liver failure aged 52, thus missing his son’s meteoric rise as a soccer icon. Ronaldo was just 20 at the time and an up-and-coming star. Looking back, he regrets his dad didn’t get to see him achieve his dreams.
“To be the number one and he don’t see nothing, and he don’t see to receive awards, to see what I became…” he cried before breaking down in tears.
Miraculously escaped unhurt after crashing Ferrari
It was a miracle when Ronaldo walked away without a scratch in 2009 when he crashed his US$380,000 (approx. $515,000) Ferrari sports car on a roadside barrier in the tunnel under Manchester Airport. According to The Guardian, Ronaldo only had the high-performance vehicle for a couple of days before the accident.
The Ferrari was badly demolished in the crash, but it was reported Ronaldo got out of the car following the accident and stood by the wreckage uninjured until help arrived. He was reportedly on the way to training at the time.
A police source told a Portuguese newspaper at the time that “it appears the driver lost control of it before hitting the side of the tunnel”.
“He was very lucky not to collide with other vehicles on the road in the crash and is even luckier to have escaped unharmed,” the police source said.
Another source told the paper that Ronaldo “said the crash was caused by moisture and oil on the road”.
An investigation followed and police decided not to take action against Ronaldo.
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