They say that the birthplace of a legend always remains sacred and Madeira is no exception to this. One of the greatest footballers to have ever taken birth on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo turns 37 on Saturday and the goal-machine keeps on getting more prolific with every passing day.
In Madeira, Ronaldo is celebrated in every single household. The airport has been christened after him while he continues to be an inspiration for millions across Portugal and definitely the world.
Having been back to Manchester United, his life came a full cycle. However, his professional career started way back in Sporting Lisbon. Ever since his journey has gone from strength to strength as he shuffled his allegiance from Lisbon to Manchester United and from there, he spent almost a decade at Real Madrid, winning all the possible glories in the footballing fabric.
His next destination was Turin as he was roped in by Juventus and after playing out two wonderful seasons at the Old Lady, he returned home to Manchester United. Madeira ensures that his birthday and the man himself are celebrated in the brightest of colours.
This is how Madeira plays host to frenetic birthday celebrations of Ronaldo
The museum that is housed by Funchal, has a brilliant blend of trinkets of his glory at Manchester in his initial days to the trophies that he won in minor tournaments while growing up. Inside the museum, there is a wall that tracks the journey of Ronaldo where Sporting Lisbon is shown as the third club that he has played for, the first two being Andorinha and Nacional.
There is a statue in Madeira that has an inscription beneath calling him the best player of the world while there is a mural that hails him as the son of the land.
Narciso Chaves, a tour guide in Funchal speaks of Ronaldo’s youth. He quotes, “Referees spoke about him at the age of 10. When he was 12, he would play against 16-year-old opponents. They had no idea how to stop him.”
A famous picture of Cristiano Ronaldo disseminates across the city, from the museum to the window of the city center club. The training grounds of Madeira bear Ronaldo’s quotes. One reads, “This is where it all started in my career.” Another one reads, “It gives me pleasure and pride that my name is associated with the academy of CD Nacional.”
Joao Vieira, one of the youth coaches of Nacional, quotes, “Ronaldo is an inspiration for anyone. He is clearly an example and inspiration for young players who aspire to achieve success. But even for someone who is not connected to football, he is an example of hard work and overcoming adversity.”