“Where you from?”
is by far one, if not the most, asked question that locals (and also other travellers) ask as soon we start a conversation.
I cheerfully answer.
Now guess what happens next?
I am not going to deny that initially, it did bother me that my country was only recognized because of a football player.
I am not the biggest fan of those invisible lines called borders as I am more of a John Lennon dreamer and I would love to “Imagine” a world without countries indeed, but, I can’t deny that I also got bitten by that nationalist bug while growing up – haven’t we all?
So yeah, it would upset me a bit that my country, that is:
- one of the oldest in Europe – Yep, it was founded in 1128 and its borders haven’t really changed ever since;
- has the oldest bookstore in the world – Bertrand in Lisbon;
- also have one of the oldest universities in Europe, “Universidade de Coimbra” which was established in 1288;
- half of the “New World” once belonged to Portugal – our empire was one of the biggest in the world – and even tho I am not a fan of the colonial period – how could anyone be? It still is exciting to think that during the “Age of Discovery”, Portuguese explorers set across the world and made many important discoveries in this time – and there was no internet or GPS people… lol…, so was a big deal, and the fact that Portugal was at the forefront of exploration and also had the longest -lived colonial empire – spanning for over 600 years
- a country where love is equal, as same sex marriage has been been legal since 2010 – the 8th country in the world legalizing something so obvious;
- our language, Portuguese, is the sixth most spoken language in the world – third most spoken European language in terms of native speakers, and its the official language in 12 different countries/territories – at least in this planet.
- a country that invented Piri Piri sauce – yes Nandos IS Portuguese;
- Lets not forget Porto Wine and “pastel de nata”;
- And guess where the biggest wave ever surfed was? Yep, in Portugal.
- If we think about the warmest temperature in Europe, Portugal is the one taking the golden medal as we have the best temperatures in the old continent – pleasant climate all year round;
- Portugal is also home to the longest bridge in Europe;
- And this one might be hard to believe but guess who the British own their famous tea-drinking custom? Yep, to the Portuguese, in fact, to a Portuguese princess – Catarina de Braganca.
- And let me add the famous Tempura is also a Portugal’s prized gift to Japan
So no wonder would I get disappointed that the only reason people would even know anything about Portugal, that super old empire that once dominated half of the world, was because there’s a guy, that happens to be younger than me, is very famous because he runs after a ball.
Sounds sad right?
But since in less than an hour, Portugal is playing in the Quarter-Finals in the UEFA Euro 2016, I would like in fact to express my dedication and appreciation of Cristiano Ronaldo.
You see, I do know he is extremely famous, that he is the number 1 football player in the world and even the most followed personality in social media, and that he has set several records both playing and in contract/fees .. yes I do know all that and I do appreciate him for that.
However, what really matters to me, what makes him special to my eyes and makes me proud when people scream his name in China, Indonesia or Australia as soon as I mention I am Portuguese, is the fact he is indeed number 1, he is the number 1 philanthropic – Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list of world’s most charitable sport stars and one of the most charitable celebrity of our generation.
Cristiano Ronaldo has a golden heart and a generous soul.
He has done so much, from donating millions of Euros to major charitable organizations to also actively participate in their fund raising campaigns.
From donating his golden boot for 1,5 million to give the money to fund schools for children in Gaza, to take the lead by donating 20% of his salary to Nepal Earthquake relief fund; to donate blood frequently and always be ready for a hug and sign autographs to the kids; to help during the 2004 tsunami with his own hands; to pay for extremely expensive surgeries to kids; or to simply visit them at hospitals, what I really love, is the fact he uses his money, fame and power not only to help but also to bring awareness to issues that really matter and turn the world into a better place.
As for when people call him arrogant and not humble, well, I can only say that they are being fooled by the media and obviously don’t know much about CR or psychology. You see, he never forgot where he comes from, and works extremely hard, and even when he is the best in the World, he still is the first to arrive and the last to leave the training sessions.
He is not like those kids that take 20 at every test but when the teaches ask how much they deserve at the end of the semester they say 17 – False modesty. Cristiano deserves 20 and he knows it, so he says it. And I admire him for that.
As for the haters, the world is filled with jealousy and hate – grow a heart =)
Independent of tonights result, Cristiano Ronaldo, just want you to know that you already won. You won the love and admiration not only of the Portuguese but the world, I know, I have been around and you left the Portuguese stamp everywhere, you have been leaving your footprints all over the clouds. Thank you Cristiano Ronaldo.
We are with you tonight.
Portugal Portugal Portugal <3