These Superstar Soccer Players Didn’t Have it Easy

We know them as the superstars of the soccer world. We’ve watched them score goals, celebrate their wins, and cry through their losses. But do you know where they’re from? What they went through in their early years?

Rome, Italy - 27/09/2020: CR7 Cristiano Ronaldo (JUVENTUS) score the goal
Rome, Italy – 27/09/2020: CR7 Cristiano Ronaldo (JUVENTUS) score the goal. Photo By Marco Iacobucci/IPA/Shutterstock

Some of the best soccer stars didn’t have it easy and had to fight their way to the top. Before they became household names, the following soccer players worked tirelessly for years, trained non-stop, and left their home countries, friends, and families behind without a return ticket.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira, Portugal. He grew up in a working-class home and environment. He was exposed to soccer early on by his father, who was the equipment manager of a boys’ soccer club.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus FC
Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus FC. Photo By RemotePhotoPress/Shutterstock

His childhood wasn’t easy by any means; his father was an alcoholic and eventually died from kidney problems. His mother was a cook and cleaning lady – a hard-working woman who made ends meet to feed her children.


Ronaldinho, from Brazil, is from a family of soccer players. His father played professional soccer and died from a heart attack when Ronaldinho was eight years old. Growing up in a poor neighborhood, the future star and his friends barely had any grass to play on.

Ronaldinho Gaucho of FC Barcelona.
Ronaldinho Gaucho of FC Barcelona. Photo By Bagu Blanco/Shutterstock

They played mostly on the sand. He soon became one of Brazil’s most talented soccer players; he scored 23 goals at the age of 13.

Lionel Messi

Leo Messi, born in Argentina, began playing soccer at a very early age. When he was 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, requiring him to undergo expensive medical treatment.

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring from a penalty kick for 1-0 in the 81st minute
7th March 2020; Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; La Liga Football, Barcelona versus Real Sociedad; Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring from a penalty kick for 1-0 in the 81st minute. Photo By Joma Garcia/Action Plus/Shutterstock

Part of his treatment involved receiving the drug Human Growth Hormone. It was a difficult endeavor seeing as how his family was poor and didn’t have the resources to pay for the treatment.