Less than twenty-four after his side won its fourth trophy of 2014, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo returned to his place of birth in the region of Madeira – an archipelago which is one of two autonomous regions of Portugal – to be presented with the “Cordão Autonomy” and a statue in his likeness by the Legislative Assembly.
After helping Madrid win its first-ever FIFA Club World Cup title, Ronaldo and his son made the four-and-a-half hour plane flight from Morocco to his birthplace in Madeira in order to personally receive the region’s highest honor.
Ronaldo was born in Santo António (a civil parish in the northeastern part of Funchal, the capital of Madeira), which is the most populated city outside of the mainland of Portugal. Santo António is also home to the Museu CR7, which is a museum dedicated to the achievements of the Portuguese winger.
The Portugal international arrived at the Sea Square around noontime where an 8-ft tall, 1,800-pound statue in his likeness was unveiled in front of hundreds of people.
Ronaldo signed autographs and posed for pictures with the locals before making a brief speech to the gathering.
“It is an honor to be back in Madeira, where I grew up and I have my roots and my family,” the Real Madrid forward said. “This is something that has a very special meaning to me, and it is a huge privilege to be here with the Madeiran people.”
Ronaldo’s mother was also present at the ceremony and was visibly moved by the proceedings and the player himself acknowledged that the tribute had touched him deeply.
“I hope that 2015 will be just as good as 2014 and we can win everything we have won this year,” Ronaldo concluded. “Especially the Champions League.”
“Thank you for this important and historic moment. I will hold it in a special place in my life.”
“Thanks to all who have helped me. It gives me motivation to achieve more and more in my career. It is a special day.”
Ronaldo will now have a few days to rest before he links up with his teammates prior to Real Madrid’s final match of 2014 – a friendly against Italian giants AC Milan on December 30th in Dubai.