Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of all time | Stefano Guidi/Getty Images
What more can be said about Cristiano Ronaldo? Over 700 career goals, 30 trophies, five Ballons d’Or – we’ve run out of ways to describe him.
From his younger days at Manchester United as a tricky winger, to his tenure as a goalscoring powerhouse at Real Madrid, Ronaldo is an icon of the game, and a symbol of the mantra that hard work pays off.
The Portuguese forward’s astonishing brilliance has wowed supporters for the best part of 18 seasons, and inspired a generation of up and coming footballers.
Here are just some of the many players who have been inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo.
[email protected]_10’s been working on that free-kick for a very long time! ⚽️#CHEWOL pic.twitter.com/WgDJguMfOG
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 26, 2020
In the video above, a very young, very long-haired Mason Mount teaches us all how to perform Ronaldo’s iconic free kick style, before replicating it with ease.
Fast forward a few years, and the young Englishman is converting a set piece against Wolves to seal Chelsea’s place in the top four. The butterfly effect in full swing.
Burnley FC v Arsenal FC – Premier League | Visionhaus/Getty Images
Ronaldo may have demolished Arsenal on many occasions during his time at Old Trafford, but the Gunners can thank the Juventus man for motivating one of their brightest young talents.
In an interview with Arsenal’s official website, the forward said: “I base my football on Cristiano Ronaldo, he is the player model I want to follow. He is a footballer who works hard and always seeks to reach the next level.”
Odegaard replaced Ronaldo on his debut | Denis Doyle/Getty Images
At the age of just 16, Odegaard made the move to Real Madrid. And, in Cristiano Ronaldo, he could hardly have had a much better teacher.
The Norwegian said that he tries “to learn as much as possible” from the Portuguese. A few years later, he is now flourishing in La Liga.
Ronaldo and Joao Felix in the UEFA Nations League | Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images
Joao Felix was just three years old when Ronaldo made his debut for the national team, and just 19 when he played alongside the great man.
Describing the experience, the Atletico Madrid forward said: “It was a dream come true to be with him in the same locker room”.
Kane and Ronaldo meet in the Champions League | TF-Images/Getty Images
The Spurs talisman has faced Ronaldo twice in his career, having been drawn against Real Madrid for the group stages of the 2017/18 Champions League.
After the final whistle at the Bernabeu, Kane swapped shirts with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, and later described him as “a big role model of mine”.
Rashford hits a Ronaldo-esque free kick | Pool/Getty Images
If Man Utd fans couldn’t love their former player any more, the Portuguese legend inspired some of their most talented youngsters.
Rashford described Ronaldo as ‘iconic’ on Twitter, in reference to his sensational bicycle kick goal against Juventus in 2018.
And you can see the similarities in Rashford’s game – with the pace, directness, and even the free kick technique. Then again, maybe he’s been watching Mount’s tutorials.
Sterling named Ronaldo as his idol while at Liverpool | Pool/Getty Images
Mount, Kane, Rashford, and now Sterling – Gareth Southgate owes a big thank you to the 35-year-old.
Whilst at Liverpool, Sterling named the Manchester United legend as his idol. A risky move, but I’m sure the Anfield faithful have forgiven him by now…
Speaking to The Mirror, a teenage Sterling said: “I really look up to Cristiano Ronaldo, he is someone that has always been an idol to me”.
The youngster burst onto the scene last season | Lars Baron/Getty Images
Another Norwegian to add to the list, this time in the form of Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland.
Speaking to ESPN, Haaland talked about how Ronaldo and Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic shaped his career.
“You could just see it in Ronaldo’s face that ‘today I’m the man’ and ‘today, I will score goals’ and that’s what he did.
“That’s what I like the best, how dedicated and hungry they are to succeed and to be the man in the moment.”
The BVB striker has also spoken of his admiration for fellow countryman Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as well as his love for Premier League cult hero Michu.
Ronaldo and Fernandes in the UEFA Nations League | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
They say never meet your heroes, but Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes may disagree with that.
The midfielder has shared a pitch many times with the five-time Champions League winner for the Portuguese national team, and the two have since become close friends. The Juventus talisman even played his part in securing Fernandes’ move to Old Trafford from Sporting CP.
Fernandes told Italian site Cronache Di Spogliatoio: “We look at him as an idol, he has always been an idol for me. I followed his example, he is one of my favourites”.
I’m sure Ronaldo will be honoured to be named alongside Stephen Ireland in the list of Bruno’s favourite footballers.
Mbappe has risen to fame in the last four years | Xavier Laine/Getty Images
Since his breakthrough in 2016, Kylian Mbappe has shot right to the top of the footballing pyramid. And, at just 21 years of age, it’s frightening to think what the future might hold for the PSG forward.
Whatever becomes of the Frenchman, he will have to really outdo himself to reach the standards of his hero.
The former Monaco man worshipped Ronaldo as a kid, having posters of the Portuguese superstar plastered all over his bedroom wall.
And recently the World Cup winner told Gazzetto dello Sport (via Forbes): “I grew up with the myth of Zidane, then I loved the great Brazilian players: from Pelé to Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kakà. Another idol of mine was Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Zidane, Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Cristiano – could make a cracking five-a-side team out of them. Only problem being, who gets benched?