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“I have millions and billions but the most important thing is family,” footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, said in a recent interview. “Keep your family healthy and take care of them because this is the most important thing in the world.”
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner and holder of four European Golden Shoes is largely considered the best football player in the world. But the Portuguese star identifies first and foremost as a family man, which makes this week’s announcement with partner Georgina Rodriguez, 28, that their son died during childbirth even more heartbreaking.
“It is with our deepest sadness we have to announce that our baby boy has passed away,” Ronaldo and Rodriguez’ statement read. “It is the greatest pain that any parent can feel. Only the birth of our baby girl gives us the strength to live this moment with some hope and happiness.”
The couple first revealed that they were expecting twins last October, sharing baby scans, revealing the gender and a host of excited captions as they prepared to welcome a boy and a girl. Rodiguez even shared photos of their family of six having a BBQ together as recently as Easter Sunday, ahead of her C-section.
Understandably, Ronaldo will miss the Manchester United game versus Liverpool tonight, with his club writing on their site: “Family is more important than everything and Ronaldo is supporting his loved ones at this immensely difficult time. Cristiano, we are all thinking of you and sending strength to the family.”
Naturally, messages of support have been flooding in from around the world for Ronaldo, Rodiguez and their family of six. From their (very glamorous) meet-cute to life in their £7m Madeira apartment, here’s what we know about the family and their story so far.
The Gucci meet-cute
Rodriguez grew up in Jaxa, a small city in north eastern Spain. She originally had dreams of becoming a dancer, but set her eyes on the luxury fashion industry after learning to speak English at a £125-a-week au pair job in Bristol.
It’s lucky she did. While working as a Sales Assistant in 2016 at Madrid’s Gucci store, the two had their fairytale meet-cute when a co-worker asked if Rodriguez could stay past closing time for a client. Little did she know it would be a world famous soccer star.
On her 2022 TV show, I am Georgina, she recalled how she thought Ronaldo was “very handsome” and “two metres tall” when he walked in with his son Juníor and a few friends. However, what began as a professional relationship where Ronaldo was a personal shopping client of hers soon morphed into something more when he invited her to attend a Dolce & Gabbana event together.
The couple kept their relationship under wraps for the first few months, but once people found out they were dating, football fans started turning up at Gucci en masse. So much so that the store manager feared the fans would put off their rich clientele, and Rodriguez was dismissed in December 2016 after just eight months on the shop floor.
Ronaldo’s contacts got her another job in Prada in El Corte Ingles, the famous Spanish department store, where she earned about £1,000-a-month plus commission. But once again, customers kept coming into the shop in the hope of spotting Ronaldo. It wasn’t long before management and Rodriguez mutually agreed it was best if she left and stopped working for good.
Speaking about her experience, she told Spanish outlet, XLSemanal: “I was hiding, but fans were looking for me at the store. They used to call up and ask about me, pretending to be clients. There were always photographers waiting for me. The director told me to go down to the basement because he did not want to see me in the store. I started to be very uncomfortable and then I left.”
Within a year the two had their first child together, Alana Martina, on November 12 2017. Despite rumours that they got married in a low-key ceremony in Morocco the following year, the two are yet to be wed. That might not be the case for long though, as the Manchester United footballer admitted in his girlfriend’s recent Netflix documentary he was “1000 per cent certain” he would end up tying the knot with the Spanish beauty.
It also helps that Rodriguez has the seal of approval from Ronaldo’s mother, Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro. The Madeira-based mother-of-four told presenter and comedian Guilherme Geirinhas: “Georgina is a great support to Cristiano, no doubt about it,” and has even referred to her as her future “daughter-in-law” in interviews in the past.
Ronaldo’s greatest achievement, his family
One thing’s for sure: Ronaldo loves being a dad. "Being a father is a unique and personal journey, something that has changed me completely," the Portuguese star said during a 2017 Instagram live video. “It’s taught me things about love that I never knew existed. It has softened me and given me a different perspective on what is really important in my life.”
However, his methods for having children have been rather unconventional. His first set of twins were carried by a surrogate, while his eldest’s maternity is a mystery. In fact, untangling his baby-mother web has become an international sport in itself.
The facts as they stand, however, are this: Ronaldo became a father for the first time at age 25 when his first son, Cristiano Jr. born on 17 June 2010 in the United States. At the time he was dating Russian supermodel Irina Shayk, who controversially was not the mother. “As agreed with the baby’s mother, who prefers to have her identity kept confidential, my son will be under my exclusive guardianship. I request everyone to fully respect my right to privacy (and that of the child) at least on issues as personal as these are,” he tweeted about his mother’s identity.
He later told chat show host Jonathan Ross in 2015: "People speculate I was with this girl or another, or there was a surrogate mother. I have never told anyone and never will. When Cristiano [Junior] is going to grow up, I am always going to say the truth to him because he deserves it, because he is my son, but I am not going to say because people want me to say."
Shortly after ending his five-year-long relationship with Shayk, Ronaldo announced he has become a father once again. Twins Eva and Mateo were born on 8 June 2017 in the United States via surrogacy, which Manhattan fertility expert Dr. Joel Batzofin commented that it was rare for single men, especially straight ones, to choose surrogacy.
“Most people do surrogacy as a measure of last resort.” Batzofin told The Post. “I’m not going to tell you it’s hugely common but I [do] see it now more than I did five years ago.”
However, a rep for the Portuguese star affirmed that: "Cristiano Ronaldo will not share any reason as to why he chose a surrogate mother, he is simply grateful that he now has twins.”
Just a month later he announced that Rodriguez — whom the soccer star had been dating for at least eight months — was three months pregnant with Alana. It appears that he found a permanent baby-mother in Rodriguez though, with Ronaldo saying on I Am Georgina, that his girlfriend “is the pillar that keeps the family together”. She also co-parents his Junior and the twins, and regularly posts pictures of the full clan to her social media.
Inside the Ronaldo family’s lavish lifestyle
The family is currently living in Manchester after Ronaldo re-signed for Manchester United in August 2021. However, the star also has a staggering £7million apartment in his native island of Madeira where he spends most of his downtime.
The mansion, in the super expensive La Finca residential estate, features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a gym and a football pitch where Cristiano Jr is seen honing his football skills.
In fact, it’s so big that Rodriguez jokes in her reality show that she got lost a number of times when they first started dating.
“The first time I went to Cristiano’s house I’d get lost every time I went to the kitchen for water. Sometimes it would take me half an hour to get back from the living room because I didn’t know the way. It was so big. Since I was a kid, I’d been used to living in small apartments.”
It’s not the first time Rodriguez has commented on her extreme lifestyle shift that occurred from dating the world’s most followed person on Instagram. ‘I’d get there [Gucci store] on the bus and leave in a Bugatti,” she said about her early days getting to know the star, who boasts a car collection worth £17 million that includes a limited edition £8.5 million Bugatti Centodieci of which only ten have been made.
Although Rodriguez has netted a personal fortune of $20 million thanks to brand deals and a Netflix show, according to the Spanish TV show Viva La Vida, Ronaldo reportedly transfers 100,000 euros a month to Rodriguez to pay for their children’s upkeep including their private school fees.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Rodriguez becoming a celebrity in her own right – with 30.8 million Instagram followers, a reality TV show and a December 2021 cover feature on Cosmopolitan.
The family enjoy holidaying in Dubai, with Ronaldo orchestrating an extremely romantic gesture while visiting the country for her 28th birthday earlier this year. In January the footballer paid $68,000 to illuminate the Burj Khalifa tower for three minutes with a picture of his girlfriend’s face and the message “Happy Birthday Geo”.