Real Madrid star Ronaldo is seen by many as an arrogant, self-important primadonna.
His sublime football talents are often overshadowed by his apparent yearning for individuality and the fact he spends more time preening himself in front of the mirror than working with his teammates on the training pitch.
From my point of view, that is the pre-conceived perception of Ronaldo from a lot of football fans and the general public who do not take the time to look past the model features he possesses, the occasional tantrum he throws when in the heat of battle or the ease in which he sometimes falls to the ground when under pressure from a defender.
What many do not know about the Portuguese ace is that he is a genuinely generous role model who donates money as well as endless time to a number of charities around the world.
Sure, Ronaldo may have an estimated wealth of over £120million, a plethora of sports cars and a museum named after him but his philanthropic nature is almost impossible to deny.
There have been a string of cases throughout his career where Ronaldo has given to the needy, helped the sick and kind-heartedly assisted those less fortunate in a time where footballers appear to be happy with their lot and out of touch with society.
Ronaldo raised funds for the reconstruction of Aceh, Indonesia following the 2004 earthquake and tsunami, donated the payout he received from a libel case to a charity in his home city of Madeira and has been involved in a number of other organisations on the Portuguese island and in other areas of this vast land.
Two of the most heart-warming acts performed by the FIFA Ballon d’Or winner has been to help the lives of two young boys battling life-threatening conditions.
In 2012, Ronaldo met a nine-year old Canaria native who was suffering from cancer of the spine and offered to pay for experimental drugs to aid his recovery.
The Real Madrid fan, Nuhazet Guillen, tragically lost his battle in 2013 but that does not change the fact that Ronaldo did what he could to support somebody he did not personally know previously.
Earlier in 2014, Ronaldo was contacted by the parents of a 10-month old Spanish boy named Erik Ortiz Cruz who required a brain operation in order to save his life.
Erik’s parents only asked for the former Manchester United ace to donate a football shirt and boots to a charity auction to raise funds for the surgery but he went one step further and told them he would pay for the procedure and accompanying treatment.
Ronaldo paid for the entire £50,000 operation and also copped the bill for further management of the youngster’s situation which cost £5,000 per session.
At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Ronaldo was seen sporting a zig-zag style haircut which also attracted negative criticism from many. Little did they know the gesture was to honour Erik who came out of his surgery with similar scars on the right side of his head.
Some may see Ronaldo’s actions as only a small tremor on his seismic financial Richter scale while others could blame him for performing PR stunts to improve his popularity but the simple thing is, the sublimely talented player does not need to offer his money or time for media attention. It is because of goodwill and a massive heart.
Ronaldo is also one of few modern day footballers who has refrained from being tattooed in the name of fashion.
The reason why: “I don’t have tattoos because I donate blood very often,” he once said, according to Diretta News.
Ronaldo gives blood twice a year and wants to avoid the cross-contamination and potential diseases that come with having your body inked. Another truly noble cause from the 29-year old winger.
The man never calls for his charity work to be in the public eye. Celebrity causes website Looktothestars.org lists Ronaldo as being involved in the following major charitable organisations:
– Aid Still Required – (‘A non-profit corporation, founded to champion forgotten issues and people left behind after natural disasters and other crises’)
– Cahonas Scotland – (‘A Male Cancer Awareness Charity in Scotland’)
– Save the Children – (‘Creating real and lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world’)
– UNICEF – (‘To improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.’)
– World Vision – (‘A relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty.’)
Not many people would know these facts nor would they be aware that Ronaldo has a long list of causes that he supports including abuse, adoption, AIDS & HIV, cancer, disaster relief, education, health, human rights, poverty, slavery & human trafficking. He doesn’t boast or ram it down the public’s throat that he is a part of these honorable foundations and causes.
In 2012, he sold the Golden Boot he won in 2011 for €1.5million to donate the funds to Palestinian school children in Gaza and is also involved in FIFA’s ’11 for Health’ which aims to raise awareness to children regarding drug addiction, HIV and obesity.
The ex-Sporting Lisbon young gun also sticks true to his word as evidenced when mentioning a group of leukemia patients during his acceptance speech for the 2013 Ballon d’Or award after promising to do so.
To top it all off, the Portugal captain donated £100,000 to the hospital in Madeira that saved his mother’s life in 2009 which led to the development of a cancer centre in the archipelago.
The CR7-detractors will forever continue to call him out for his sporadic petulance, the fact he may not be as good as Lionel Messi or his penchant to attract all the attention ahead of his teammates, but in my opinion, there is no denying the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo doubles as a world-class footballer and more importantly, a world-class human being.