Style and substance
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HIS EARLY YEARS
He learnt his craft in the Primeira Liga, where he played for one of Portugal's top clubs. His big break came during a pre-season friendly match in 2003, when his side faced a leading English Premier League side. He impressed so much that, after the match, the opponents urged their manager to sign him.
In 2003, the Premiership club shelled out £12.24 million ($23.54m), a fee which at the time made him the most expensive teenager in English football. A star was born.
Early in his career, he was criticised for being overly flamboyant.
But, once he settled down in England, the substance started to match the style.
Blessed with searing pace and exceptional dribbling skills, he took little time to become a crowd favourite.
His game was also starting to improve at a stunning rate, as he added strength and superb heading ability to his repertoire to turn into arguably the best all-round forward in the world.
The goals started to flow, too.
His brilliant shooting skills and clinical finishing saw him score goals by the truckloads.
As his responsibility at club level grew, so did his stature on the international arena. At just 19, he played his first major tournament at Euro 2004, where he helped his team go all the way to the final. Four years later, he was made captain of his national team.
To date, he has played in three European Championships and three World Cups.
Now plying his trade in the Spanish La Liga, he averages more than a goal per game.
Over the years, he has won plenty of games single-handedly. But his critics feel that his ego also gets the better of him at times.
His self-centredness compromises his team. He may be his team's most lethal weapon, but he can also be a defensive liability.
Because of his strong desire to always claim the glory, he lacks tactical discipline and, as result, the team shape suffers.
Opponents shrewd or confident enough are quick to exploit his reluctance to track back to defend.
Throughout his career, there have also been accusations that he is a flat-track bully who thrives against the weak teams but goes missing on the big occasions.
WHY HE'S FAMOUS
He has won three Premiership titles and one La Liga crown, although a trophy on the international stage continues to elude him.
He is one of only five players to have won three or more Ballon d'Or titles, having picked up the award in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
Who is he?
International debut: Aug 20, 2003 (v Kazakhstan)
International games: 125
International goals: 56
"He was blessed by God and knew he would become one of the best in the history of football. He is the best and is light years ahead of anyone else. He’s a quiet person, a hard worker and honest."
— His club teammate
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