By David Kappel
Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the best player of his generation, but you may be interested to know that he made his international debut against South Africa.
It was 24 February 14 years ago when the 16-year-old Ronaldo made his debut for Portugal against a South African youth side at an international tournament in Rio Major (Portugal).
Portugal’s U15 side beat South Africa 2-1 on that day and the three-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner scored his side’s second goal.
Ronaldo had a “very positive impact on his teammates,” recalled then U15 coach Franciso Silveira Ramos – as quoted by Marca.
The “incredible competitiveness” of the young Ronaldo and his “huge motivation to train and play” at “an incredible speed” came as a pleasant surprise, Portugal’s current National Technical Director explains.
Ronaldo didn’t make his national team debut at an earlier age, because he was overlooked due to his racing heart condition, which was corrected when he was 15.
However, Sporting, his club at the time, informed Silveira Ramos of “an interesting youngster” and the rest is history.
It’s just a strange coincidence, but definitely something not many people knew, that one of the world’s best players in the world played his first international game against Mzansi’s finest young guns (at the time).
Afterwards, Ronaldo represented his country at every youth level and has since made 118 appearances for Portugal’s senior team – scoring 52 goals.
Source: Soccer Laduma