The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has been acknowledged as a shining example for the next generation of talent at the club where he began his career
Sporting CP have officially renamed their academy after former player Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s professional journey began at Jose Alvalade Stadium way back in 2002, as he quickly established himself as one of the most exciting young players in the Primeira Liga.
He caught the attention of Manchester United officials during a pre-season friendly one year later, and went on to complete a £12 million ($15m) switch to Old Trafford at the age of 18.
The Portugal international reached the very highest level of the game with the Red Devils, winning three Premier League titles, the Champions League and the first of his five Ballon d’Or awards.
Real Madrid managed to prise him away from United in 2009, and he won four more European Cups at Santiago Bernabeu while also becoming the club’s all-time record goalscorer.
Ronaldo called time on his nine-year spell in Spain when he signed for Juventus two years ago, and has since continued to set unprecedented standards of excellence with his quality on the pitch and professionalism off it despite advancing well into his thirties.
Sporting have now named their academy facility after their favourite son in honour of his outstanding achievements, with the following statement released via their official website on Monday: “It is with great honour that Sporting Clube de Portugal informs that the Clube Academy will be renamed Academia Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The good son makes the house and the house that made Cristiano Ronaldo now welcomes his name in honour of the one who became the best Portuguese player of all time, the best player in the world, was awarded the Ballon d’Or five times and captained the national team to European Championship and Nations League success.
“Cristiano Ronaldo joined the Leonina family in 1997 at the age of 12. On August 14, 2002, at just 17 years old, he made his senior debut against Inter.
“The Academy will thus immortalise the name of the greatest symbol ever formed and that will be an inspiration to follow for all the youngest talents.
“On a date to be announced, and as soon as conditions permit, the club will make the official inauguration.
“This tribute is part of a project to recognise several reference points of the club, including some of the greatest talents produced by the Academy, whose training camps will receive their names. This list will be announced shortly.
“The Cristiano Ronaldo Academy will represent ADN Sporting in its excellence and will follow the destinies of the one that now gives it its name: to be the best in the world.
“Congratulations to the player Cristiano for his entire journey, thanks to Leão Ronaldo for all his effort, dedication, devotion and glory.
“Once Leo, always Leo!”
Ronaldo scored his first goal of the new Serie A season for Juventus during a 3-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday, and will likely retain a place in Andrea Pirlo’s starting XI when the reigning Italian champions take in a trip to Roma next weekend.