The 2022 FIFA World Cup will showcase some of the greatest players to ever step foot on a soccer pitch. But it's hard to argue that there's one man who surpasses even "the beautiful game": Cristiano Ronaldo. His jaw-dropping achievements on the pitch are one thing — and he gets paid very well for his trouble. But it's his life away from the stadium lights that really make him special.
1. When he jumps, he's more powerful than a cheetah
In 2011 researchers at the University of Chichester revealed how Ronaldo can move so much more powerfully than any other player. According to a report in the Daily Mail, the researchers found that when the soccer star jumps, he "generates 5G of G-force on take-off." That means he is, at that moment, five times more powerful than a cheetah at full speed.
2. He went from rags to riches
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro — his given name — grew up in Madeira, Portugal, in a struggling lower-class family. In fact, Ronaldo's mother, Maria, revealed in 2015 that things were so bad at home that she did not initially want to give birth to another son. "He is a child that I wanted to abort," she said in the Ronaldo documentary. "God didn’t want that to happen and I was blessed because of that."
3. He was getting attention for his soccer at the age of 12
At 12 years old, Ronaldo's life was upended when he agreed to a move to Sporting CP — a soccer club in Lisbon, Portugal. The club reportedly signed him for £1,500 — and had to bring his mother along to help comfort the homesick Ronaldo. The young star also had to suffer being teased for his accent.
4. He had heart surgery to save his career
At the age of 15, Ronaldo landed in emergency surgery because of his racing heartbeat. His irregular resting heartbeat was of such concern that his mother and his employers worried it would put an end to his professional prospects. So Ronaldo underwent laser heart surgery to put things right — and the rest is sporting history.