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As one of the best soccer players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo, or CR7 as he’s known, is famous all around the world. The question is, what languages does Ronaldo speak, and how many in total? Let’s dive in and find out more!
Whether it’s for breaking goal-scoring records, bringing home championships, or as a brand ambassador for some of the biggest brands on the planet, you don’t need to be a soccer fan to know who Cristiano Ronaldo is.
Being such a household name and having played for clubs all over Europe, it’s no surprise that Ronaldo speaks multiple languages. So let’s dive in and find out what languages he speaks fluently (and not so fluently).
What Languages Does Ronaldo Speak?
Ronaldo speaks four languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish, and Italian. As a European citizen, it is not uncommon to grow up speaking multiple languages, especially having English as a second language (which is a huge reason I absolutely love living here!)
Take this free quiz to find out what your level is in Spanish on the CEFR scale (from A1 to C2!).
As Ronaldo has played in many major European leagues for different clubs, it’s no wonder that he knows multiple languages. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and while he can understand Italian, he prefers to conduct media interviews in either of his three fluent languages.
His eldest son also speaks all four of these languages, emphasizing the importance that Ronaldo places on learning multiple languages. This will definitely have helped with the seasonal moving around that often comes with being a professional soccer player.
Here’s a short video showing Messi speaking in all four of the languages mentioned above, plus knowing a few phrases in Russian:
What is Ronaldo’s Native Language?
Growing up in Funchal, the capital of the beautiful island of Madeira, Ronaldo’s native language is Portuguese. In fact, Ronaldo has been captain of the Portuguese national team since 2003 – that’s almost twenty years which is insane for a soccer player and especially for a striker!
During that time Ronaldo has become Portugal’s most-capped player, and highest goal scorer and led the team to win the 2016 European championships. Not a bad set of records to have, right?
Despite Portugal’s proximity to Spain, the Portuguese language isn’t that similar to Spanish. It has a lot of Arabic influences due to the closeness of Northern Africa. It has a lot of crossover between common European Romance languages but isn’t as similar as say Spanish and Italian.
There is also variation between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, with the two being pretty different, especially when it comes to pronunciation.
Why Does Ronaldo Speak Italian?
There are a few reasons why Ronaldo might speak Italian. First, its proximity to Spain where he spent a large portion of his career, and the fact that Italy is a sought-after vacation destination among the rich and famous, may have led him to learn a few words and phrases.
More likely is the fact that he recently played a few seasons at the Serie A side, Juventus, which is based in Turin, Northern Italy. In order to integrate himself into the team and among local fans, support staff, and media, learning Italian was probably on his to-do list.
Is Ronaldo Fluent in Italian?
While there are clips of Ronaldo speaking pretty great Italian, Ronaldo himself says that he’s not fluent in Italian. He can understand the language well but really prefers to conduct interviews in English, Spanish, or Portuguese to avoid any miscommunication and be able to give thorough answers to the questions.
Is Ronaldo Fluent in English?
On the other hand, Ronaldo is fluent in English, as many Europeans are. Across Europe English is taught alongside native languages from a young age in order to create bi or trilingual societies.
With English being the most widely spoken language in the world, it’s unsurprising that Ronaldo, with his aptitude for languages, is fluent in English.
He has also now returned to his old team, Manchester United, in the English Premier League, where he found success for many years previously. Here, he used his fluency in media interviews and became a household name, and a footballing legend, across the UK.
Sadly Manchester United aren’t what they once were and has struggled since losing its legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson to retirement in 2013. Rumors have it that Ronaldo is trying to return to the continent to play, but Manchester United can’t afford to let the superstar go.
Which Soccer Player Speaks the Most Languages?
Ronaldo is impressive, being able to speak four languages, but there are a few footballers who are bigger polyglots. Belgium striker, Romelu Lukaku, who was Ronaldo’s Golden Boot rival during his time in Serie A, is listed as speaking eight languages.
As he was born in Belgium to Congolese parents, Lukaku grew up speaking a combination of Congolese Swahili, French, and Lingala, a Bantu language.
When he went to school, he learned English and Spanish, as well as picked up some Dutch due to the border with the Netherlands, and Flemish, the traditional language of Belgium.
By the time he made his professional debut for Anderlecht, he had seven languages to his name. The eighth came from the fact that he had so many Brazilian teammates that it made sense to learn Portuguese and boost his language-learning roster. Impressive.
Similarly, the Swedish striker and all-around character, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, speaks six languages, as well as being able to understand sign language, and is fluent in Braille.
The six languages he can speak are Swedish, English, Spanish, Bosnian, French, and Italian. That’s a wide variety of languages, plus two very important and inclusive languages that too few people can understand.
How Do Soccer Players Learn So Many Languages?
As elite soccer players, you end up traveling all around the world for academies, tournaments, and leagues and you’ll probably get transferred a couple of times throughout your career as well. The outcome of this is that you need to be able to integrate into new surroundings quickly.
Soccer l is a team sport, so if you can’t understand your teammates and your coaches, you’re not going to be able to play to the best of your abilities.
It also helps to be able to converse with the media and the fans, so that you can win them over and garner that much-needed support on and off the pitch. While most clubs do have interpreters, it goes a long way to be able to speak the language of the club.
Footballers learn so many languages by having access to intensive language courses pretty much as soon as they know they’re moving to a new club or league.
It’s in everyone’s interest for each player to at least have a basic knowledge and understanding of the language. In some cases, like Germany, which is a huge footballing nation, work visas are contingent on having a basic knowledge of the language.
Essentially, footballers, due to their status and wealth, have a lot more resources at their disposal than most of us when it comes to learning a new language.
Think about if your job sent you to an office in another country for a year or more, you’d expect them to throw some language classes in to help with integration -soccer players are no different. This is their job after all!
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