Great Britain

Sporting Lisbon rename academy after Cristiano Ronaldo to honour their most famous graduate

SPORTING LISBON have renamed their academy after Cristiano Ronaldo to honour their most famous graduate and "the best player in the world".

The Portuguese giants confirmed on Monday afternoon their youth set-up would go by the name of Academia Cristiano Ronaldo.

They said in a statement: "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, awarded with five Ballons d'Or and captain of the European and Nations League champions.

"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.

"The Cristiano Ronaldo Academy will represent 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 Ronaldo for all his effort, dedication, devotion and glory."

Ronaldo, 35, joined the Lisbon-based club at the age of 12 in 1997 from CD Nacional in his hometown of Funchal, Madeira.

An obvious sensation, he became the first player to represent the club's Under-16, U17, U18, B and first teams in a single season.

The attacker made his senior debut against Inter Milan in August 2002 and his league debut two months later, scoring twice in a 3-0 win.

Throughout the year he attracted the attention of Liverpool, Barcelona and Arsenal before Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson came calling.

Since leaving Sporting for £12.24million, now-Juventus star Ronaldo has won seven league titles in three countries as well as five Champions Leagues.

His tally of five Ballons d'Or is bettered only by long-term rival Lionel Messi.

Sporting will hold a special ceremony to commemorate the name change when Covid-19 restrictions allow.

And the club also announced they plan to recognise other famous alumni from their academy with training camps named after them.

The list is yet to be announced but could include Luis Figo, Ricardo Quaresma, Nani and Joao Moutinho who all developed at Sporting before going on to achieve success elsewhere.

Darren Fletcher says Cristiano Ronaldo became the player he is thanks to former Man Utd No2 Walter Smith

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