DURING the coronavirus pandemic few have stepped up to the plate like Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Juventus forward, who earns £500,000-a-week wages at the Italian club and has sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike, Armani, KFC, Herbalife, as well as his own range of CR7 clothes, shoes and underwear, has put his money where his mouth is and aided those in need.
His years of success at Real Madrid and now at Juventus have made the Portuguese one of the most divisive athletes in the world.
Adored by fans for his ridiculous skill and achievement, Ronaldo also has an army of critics who hate his petulant behaviour and obsession with appearance and brand.
But while many deride Ronaldo for his antics on the pitch, few know of his charity work off of it.
Here's why Ronaldo has one of the biggest hearts in all of sport.
With an estimated wealth of around £500million, you could argue that it wouldn't hurt Ronaldo to take a pay cut during these uncertain times for football clubs.
But not all footballers are in agreement with that idea.
However, Ronaldo led the way with a wage cut for March, April, May, and June while the world waited to see what the initial outbreak of the coronavirus would do to the footballing world.
That's said to have cost Ronaldo £3.8m personally.
According to various reports, Ronaldo teamed up with his agent Jorge Mendes back in March to donate £1m to hospitals in Portugal to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Hospitals in Porto and Lisbon were recipients of the generous donation – receiving beds and ventilators to cope with the high-number of patients suffering with Covid-19.
Daniel Ferro, president of Lisbon's Santa Maria Hospital, revealed the selfless act.
“We were contacted by Jorge Mendes, who volunteered with Cristiano Ronaldo to finance two intensive care units for critical patients suffering from Covid-19,” Ferro said.
“There are fans, monitors, infusion pumps, beds … all the equipment that constitutes an intensive care unit equipped to provide care to a Covid-19 patient.”
Ronaldo's international team-mate Bernardo Silva let the cat out of the bag for this one.
According to the Manchester City star, CR7 asked the Portugal squad to donate 50 per cent of their qualification bonus for Euro 2020 to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.
"So we qualified to the 2020 Euros, which now is in 2021," Silva said.
"And he gave us the idea let's donate part of our bonus, so I think our national team, our players will donate 50 per cent of our qualifying bonus."
HIS EUROPEAN GOLDEN BOOT
In 2011, Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded the European Golden Boot after scoring 40 goals under Jose Mourinho, although Los Blancos could only finish second in La Liga and crashed out in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Rather than keep the award in his already packed trophy room – Ronaldo opted to sell it for charity.
The boot went for auction and raised a stunning £1.2m.
The funds went towards building a number of schools in war-torn Gaza.
THE BALLON D'OR
Ronaldo repeated the trick of selling off one of his trophies in 2017, this time his 2013 Ballon d'Or trophy at a charity auction in London.
The gala dinner, to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation – which grants wishes to children with life-threatening conditions – was a roaring success.
Ronaldo's Ballon d'Or made a massive £530,000 for the organisation too.
Ronaldo continues to use his global platform as a force for good.
He is an ambassador for three major charities, Save the Children, Unicef and World Vision, and has spoken up for countless more.
At his 2014 Ballon d'Or speech, Ronaldo made a point of mentioning a group of children he had met with leukemia.
He has continued to speak out in those roles.
In 2016, he recorded a message to the children affected by the Syrian conflict, calling them "true heroes" and stating "I am with you".
He also made a secret donation which he asked Save the Children not to reveal.
Ronaldo's Ice Bucket Challenge video – the viral sensation that raised hundreds of millions of pounds in 2014 – was seen by more than a hundred million people across his social media platforms.
Ronaldo has also been very generous with giving up money earned from his exceptional performances on the pitch.
In 2013 he was named in the Uefa Team of the Year – earning a €100,000 (£89,000) bonus from the European governing body.
But rather than cash the cheque, he donated it to the Red Cross.
A year later the Portuguese star led Real Madrid to La Decima, their tenth Champions League victory, and picked up a £450,000 bonus from Los Blancos.
But Ronaldo again decided against cashing the money, instead sharing it among the three charities he is an ambassador for, Unicef, World Vision and Save the Children.
The 32-year-old, compared to a growing number of his peers, is remarkably tattoo-free.
It's all for a reason – Ronaldo regularly donates blood and has been involved in numerous campaigns to encourage others to do the same.
People with tattoos can donate blood, but are not able to do so immediately after getting new ink to reduce the risk of infection.
He said in 2015: "We can all make a difference by donating blood.
"Each donation can benefit up to three people in emergency situations and for long-term medical treatments… That’s why I am enthusiastic… to the importance of blood donation and to encourage people around the world to become lifelong blood donors and help save lives."
Ronaldo also donates bone marrow after a former team-mate revealed his struggles.
Carlos Martins had a son who needed bone marrow and Ronaldo has been a donor since.
He said donating bone marrow is 'something a lot of people think is a difficult thing to do but it's nothing more than drawing blood and doesn't hurt.'
MULTI-MILLION POUND RELIEF
Ronaldo again donated a huge amount of money in 2015, to the relief efforts for the Nepalese earthquake in April 2015.
The deadly natural disaster killed 9,000 people, injured 22,000 more and caused untold amounts of damage to the country.
Ronaldo is reported to have given £5MILLION to Save the Children's disaster relief fund – although those reports have remained unverified and were denied by the charity.
He likely did make a donation, although the amount remains a mystery.
HELPING A CANCER CENTRE
Ronaldo's mother, Dolores Aveiro, survived breast cancer in 2007.
The former Manchester United man decided to thank the care centre in Portugal that treated his mum – adding £120,000 to their coffers.
INVITATION TO AN ORPHAN
In Lebanese capital Beirut, Real Madrid fan Haidar was orphaned when both of his parents were killed by a suicide bomber.
A local reporter got in touch with the Spanish giants and eventually the boy was invited to the club.
It lead to a heart-rending video of Ronaldo cuddling the youngster as he burst into tears of sheer delight to meet his hero.
HELPING A YOUNG FAN
Ronaldo was alerted to the story of Nuhuzet Guillen, a nine-year-old with terminal cancer in 2009.
After hearing about the fan, Ronaldo decided to send a driver to bring the family to the hotel where the Real Madrid team were staying.
After emerging from the lift, he is reported to have joked to the youngster: "Don't you want to say anything?"
He dedicated a goal to Nuhuzet, inviting him to watch the match in his private box at the Bernabeu, and after the game gave him his match shirt.
After speaking with his father, Ronaldo learned there was not much that could be done, although there was experimental treatment available in the US, which the star paid for.
When Nuhuzet's condition worsened, Ronaldo offered to pay for all of his medication, costing hundreds of thousands, and treatment at a private medical centre.
Ronaldo paid that for more than a year, until the boy sadly passed away in March 2013.
GENEROUS WITH HIS TIME
Ronaldo is often targeted by pitch invaders for selfies and pictures.
But rather than avoid the fans, CR7 knows he is an icon to these people and instead often stops for pictures.
On numerous occasions he has stopped fans from being dealt with by heavy-handed security.
Ronaldo also loves to interact with supporters inside stadiums, often staying to throw his shirt into the crowd, sign autographs and take pictures.
HELPING ANOTHER YOUNG FAN
In 2014, the mother of another young fan, ten-month-old Erik Ortiz Cruz, asked Ronaldo to donate a shirt to the boy, who has cortical dysplasia.
The brain abnormality causes up to 30 seizures a day.
After hearing the full story Ronaldo paid £55,000 for initial brain surgery and pledged to cover the cost of any follow-up treatment – although none has so far been needed.
He also helped raise extra money for Erik by donating a signed kit to sell at auction.
During a pre-season friendly at Bournemouth, Ronaldo blasted one of his trademark free-kicks into the crowd at the Vitality Stadium.
Unfortunately for 11-year-old Charlie Silverwood, the shot broke the boy's arm.
Club president Florentino Perez called Charlie, while Ronaldo gave him a signed Real Madrid shirt.
During a Champions League clash he also hit a shot into the crowd that made a young boy cry.
He leapt into the stand to give the youngster his training top.
BEST FRIEND EVER
Super-agent Jorge Mendes named Ronaldo as his best man when he married Sandra in 2015.
And Ronaldo decided to reward his Portuguese friend handsomely, buying him a whole Greek Island as a wedding present.
The island is said to have cost almost £40MILLION.
INVITATION FOR RICKSEN
Rangers legend Fernando Ricksen was suddenly diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2013.
The former Netherlands international was wheelchair-bound and relied on his wife and carers to look after him until his death in September 2019.
After his condition became well-known, Ronaldo contacted the Scottish title winner on social media to invite Ricksen and his family to a match at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo also presented a shirt to the former right-back after a Champions League win over Legia Warsaw in October 2016.
Cristiano’s big donations
- Selling his 2011 European Golden boot – £1.2milion
- Selling his 2013 Ballon d'or – £530,000
- Donating to the Nepalese earthquake – £5million* (reported)
- Uefa Team of the Year bonus – £100,000
- Champions League 2014 win bonus – £450,000
- Portugese cancer centre – £120,000
- Helping Erik Oritz Cruz – £55,000
After La Decima, Real Madrid's players not only got that win bonus from the club, but also a special gift from Ronaldo.
The player of the tournament decided to reward his team-mates with personalised watches from luxury watch brand Bvlgari.
Each watch was personalised and said to have cost him £5,000 each.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
Ronaldo's father, Denis was an alcoholic who battled with his addiction for years before his death in 2005.
Older brother Hugo Aveiro was heading down that same path, addicted to alcohol and drugs.
But as Ronaldo's fame grew he decided to intervene – promising to dedicate La Decima to his older brother if he kicked his destructive habits.
He did and then came on to the pitch to share an emotional embrace with Ronaldo after full-time.
Hugo, who is ten years older than Cristiano, has since been pictured alongside Ronaldo at numerous events, including the 2016 Ballon d'Or ceremony.
Ronaldo is also godfather to Hugo's son, while the Juventus and Portugal star decided to put his older brother in charge of the Ronaldo Museum in Madeira.
So next time someone mentions how much they hate Ronaldo's preening on the field, just remember how much he helps out off it.
PATIENCE OF A SAINT
Humble Ronaldo showed he is just like the rest of us when he went out for a pre-Christmas dinner with girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez and son Cristiano Jr in December 2018.
Turin chef Davide Fiore offered the exclusive party a spot at 9.30pm – only for the Ronaldo clan to rock up 90 minutes early and have to wait FOURTY minutes for a table.
But the forward didn't throw his toys out of the pram like some critics might've expected, instead waiting patiently with no sign of arrogance and Fiore described him as a 'decent boy'.
A GREAT TIPPER
Ronaldo is a massive fan of the luxury Costa Navarino resort in southern Greece and has stayed there multiple times.
The area comprises several sites, with two five-star hotels, as well as luxury private residences, conference facilities, spas and golf courses.
It is not clear exactly where Ronaldo was staying – the owners enforced a media blackout to allow Ronaldo and his family some privacy – but he clearly loved it.
After week long stays in 2018 and 2019, Ronaldo left a massive tip for the staff who had looked after him, paying £20,000 on top of his bill to be shared among ten staff on both occasions.
NEVER FORGETS A KIND GESTURE
Ronaldo recently revealed he was given free burgers by three women when he used to beg for food as a child.
After a massive appeal, one of the women has been found – after Ron claimed he would knock on the door of a McDonald’s next to Sporting Lisbon's stadium.
After days of searching, Paula Leca came forward to say she was one of the three women – calling Ronaldo 'timid'.
And Ronaldo has offered to take generous Paula out for dinner either in Turin or Lisbon as a token of his gratitude.
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