At Juventus Cristiano Ronaldo may have finally found the home he's longed for

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Icon of Turin: Cristiano Ronaldo.

A world-record 80,000 spectators turned up at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009 to witness Cristiano Ronaldo‘s unveiling as a Real Madrid player. The audience surpassed that which greeted Diego Maradona upon his arrival at Napoli 25 years earlier.

In many ways, it was the highlight of Ronaldo’s complicated relationship with the Bernabeu faithful. He was the latest recipient of the prestigious Ballon d’Or, recognising him as the world’s best player and making him all the more appealing to the Madridistas.

Having watched as Pep Guardiola assembled an unstoppable force at Barcelona, Madrid needed to respond and following his exploits at Manchester United, including a Champions League triumph, Ronaldo fitted the bill. Above all though, he was meant to be their answer to Lionel Messi.

The bar was set impossibly high from the outset but Ronaldo consistently met expectations with his output, pushing the envelope even further and smashing numerous records along the way. But the Bernabeu is an unforgiving arena and its demanding occupants will tolerate no less than complete domination over every opponent which enters their lair.

If you had to engineer the perfect modern day forward, Ronaldo would be the closest thing, but despite his incredible ability and phenomenal returns, he was not immune to the fans’ – often irrational – discontent. He won four more Ballon d’Or titles during his nine-year stay at Madrid, yet endured many more occasions when his own supporters turned against him.

Why don't you love me? Ronaldo wasn't always in favour among Madrid fans.

Why don’t you love me? Ronaldo wasn’t always in favour among Madrid fans.

For a player so revered and celebrated at Old Trafford, and one with an ego boosted by his countless accomplishments, it never sat well. Despite the numerous accolades, Ronaldo never felt fully appreciated at the club and sought to seek recognition in financial terms instead.

The Portuguese often voiced his sadness ahead of new contract negotiations or even refused to celebrate after scoring, claiming he didn’t feel like it because he wasn’t happy. The fact he isn’t Spanish always meant the fans kept him at arm’s length as well and rumours of disputes with the likes of Sergio Ramos would see the media turn against him.

For one reason or another, Ronaldo never felt completely at home in Madrid, often reminiscing about his time at United.

It’s no wonder then that it was the applause from opposing fans last season which seemed to evoke a sense of allegiance in Ronaldo that for a long time was dormant. His extraordinary bicycle kick goal against Juventus during the Champions League quarter-final first leg in Turin was greeted by a standing ovation from the home support.

“When I was a kid, I liked Juventus and the fact that their fans have applauded me will stay with me,” Ronaldo said when reflecting on the goal.

The 33-year-old has since admitted that it played a big part in his decision to join the Serie A giants.

“I would say what I saw in the stadium helped [the transfer],” Ronaldo said upon his unveiling as DAZN’s first Global Ambassador.

It’s somewhat poetic that arguably his finest moment in a Madrid shirt would initiate his move away from the club.

Ronaldo received a royal reception when he landed in Italy over the summer to complete his transfer with fans lining up for a glimpse of their new hero as they immediately embraced him as one of their own.

But while the Old Lady may be delighted with his arrival this summer, Turin could so easily have been his home 15 years ago. Juventus were reportedly among the clubs interested in signing him from Sporting Lisbon before his move to United. However, Marcelo Salas’ refusal to move in the other direction derailed an initial agreement for the transfer.

In light of that, Ronaldo’s homecoming this weekend when Juventus host Lazio is well overdue. His Allianz Stadium bow marks the beginning of what could be a lifelong relationship with the Bianconeri fans. The forward is determined to repay the faith they have already shown in him and with their backing, he will be spurred on to prolong his career at the highest level.

After a volatile relationship with the Madridistas over the years, Ronaldo will relish the prospect of being loved and adored. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship and in Turin, he may just feel at home again.

Perhaps Nike’s enormous billboard on the side of a building in Turin’s Piazza Vittorio Veneto says it best as the player attempts to make a fresh start in more comfortable surroundings, amidst accepting fans.

After listing Ronaldo’s numerous feats, the final line simply concludes: “Now forget everything, and start again.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo sets an example for other players ahead of home debut

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Managing a superstar: Allegri and Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo is poised for his home debut as Juventus host Lazio in Serie A on Saturday night.

The Portuguese forward made his bow in last week’s 3-2 win at Chievo but will feature in front of his own fans for the first time.

Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri has praised the 33-year-old for improving the standard at the club following his big-money move from Real Madrid in the summer.

“Cristiano Ronaldo trains very competitively, he takes nothing for granted and is a champion, building his own success over the years through hard work and sacrifice,” Allegri told the club’s official website.

“He is a great example for the younger players and he raises our overall quality.

“Ronaldo is bringing a great enthusiasm to Italian football, I see all the people that are waiting outside Continassa, but regardless of the excitement we still have to win games.

“We haven’t won anything just by signing him, we have to show that on the pitch.”

Juve have won Serie A for the last seven campaigns, but needed a last-minute goal against Chievo on the opening day of the season to seal a comeback win.

And Allegri is contemplating changes, adding: “There will also be a very hot atmosphere tomorrow so everyone will be needed, even those who enter during the game.

“For example, the wing is more covered with Douglas Costa, but we also know what can happen with Ronaldo there.

“I have to make a decision on (Blaise) Matuidi today. He’s in good shape and he always runs.

“He came in late last season but immediately made us understand what he could give us.

“Changes will depend on the moment, our state and our opponents. From September 16 we’ll be playing every three days, so the changes will be natural.

“However, decisions must be made and only winning counts. If you win, every decision you make is a good one but they’re never fully accepted.”

Lazio, who opened with a 2-1 loss to Napoli, have injury concerns.

Luiz Felipe and Valon Berisha are out, but Adam Marusic might be fit.

Felipe has a grade-two tear of his calf, picked up against Napoli, while Berisha has a hamstring injury.

Marusic sprained his ankle in Rome last week but could recover in time.

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Cristiano Ronaldo believes eight-year-old son Cristiano Jr will become like him

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Me, myself and I: Cristiano Ronaldo with son Cristiano Jr.

Many players have tried and failed to emulate Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Juventus star believes he has found the new Ronaldo – and he lives with him.

The 33-year-old Portugal star says that his eight-year-old son, Cristiano Jr, is also a promising footballer and is convinced he will emulate his father in the future.

“He’ll become like me, I’m 100 per cent sure of it,” said the 33-year-old five-time Ballon d’Or winner in an interview with streaming broadcaster DAZN.

“He’s very competitive. He’s like me as a child. He doesn’t like losing.”

Ronaldo, who left Real Madrid this summer after nine glorious years in the Spanish capital, added: “I’d like to teach him some things, but ultimately he will choose what to do and he’ll always have my support.

“But of course, I’d like him to become a player because I think he has a passion for it too.”

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