The 6 years spent at Old Trafford and the £80 million pocketed by Manchester United for his transfer to Real Madrid may never have happened had destiny played a different hand for Cristiano Ronaldo and his family when he was still a small boy on the Portugese island of Madeira.
Ronaldo was only 5 years old when his mother Dolores Aveiro was on the verge of immigrating to Australia together with her parents to join four of her brothers. But a late change of heart meant that the youngster saw his grandparents leave for Perth to start a new life on the other side of the world while he remained in Madeira with his family.
Had his mother’s decision been different, Ronaldo could now be preparing to represent Australia in the 2010 World Cup – and his years at Old Trafford may never have happened! Instead of lamenting the elimination of Real Madrid from the Champions League last night he may well have been sitting at home in Perth with his large family preparing to wear the green and gold of Australia in South Africa this summer!
Fate kept Ronaldo from teaming up with the likes of Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill at Galatasaray, Fulhams Mark Schwartzer, Evertons Tim Cahill and Blackburns Brett Emerton, a possibility that would have been a dream for Australia’s manager Pim Verbeek.
Part of the Ronaldo family is living in Yangebup, a suburb of Perth, so whenever he has some free time, the Real Madrid star calls his grandparents and uncles by phone, never forgetting those loved ones who are thousands of miles away from the glamour of the Bernabéu. “He has always loved football and has a great will to win” his uncle Alex Viveiros was quoted as telling his local newspaper.
In 2006, Ronaldo wanted his grandparents close by during the World Cup so he paid for them to make the trip to Germany. Maria 80 and José 81 closely followed one of the most important moments in their grandson’s brilliant career, but even when they are far away their support does not fade and every move and goal of the “world’s best” is followed with their utmost attention.
Perth, where his family emigrated to, has a large Madeiran population that have settled there over the past five decades after looking for better opportunities. There are about 8000 Portuguese immigrants in Perth, 85 per cent of which are from Madeira so it’s no surprise to find so much affection for CR9 in that part of the world.
Initially, when the player started to shine as number 7 at Manchester United, many in Perth did not know that part of his family lived there.Viveiros says that initially many people found it hard to believe. “Now they do and almost everyone knows, but it was not like this before” said the uncle who cannot hide the immense pride in his nephew.
Fate can certainly be fickle, had destiny not intervened the life of one of the world’s most recognized footballers could have gone down an entirely different path.
Would Ronaldo have ended up playing for Australia had his mother taken him there as a child?