Well-known Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo opened up about his modest upbringing, recalling in a interview experiencing hunger as a child. He recounted three women working at a McDonald’s who would give him free burgers when he and his friends came knocking and then expressed his wish to reach out to see them again. In an astonishing twist, after the interview aired, two of the women came forward.
It was during an interview with Piers Morgan for ITV that the Juventus star told the story of the kind McDonald’s staff. The three women would give the then-12-year-old Ronaldo and his friends at his boyhood club Sporting Lisbon leftover burgers.
“We were a little hungry. We had a McDonald’s next to the stadium, we knocked on the door and asked, ‘Have you got any burgers?’” he explains, per Give Me Sport. He remembered the name of one woman as “Edna” but couldn’t recall the two other girls.
Five Ballon d’Or awards, four European Golden Shoes and one astonishing interview. Cristiano Ronaldo meets Piers Morgan.Tuesday 9pm, ITV.
As time went on and Ronaldo became a successful football player, he tried to reach out to them but was unsuccessful. “I asked people in Portugal, they closed the McDonalds, but if this interview can help find them, I would be so happy,” he told Morgan, “I want to invite them to Turin or Lisbon to come have dinner with me because I want to give something back.”
Ronaldo’s moving interview aired on the British TV channel on Sept. 17, 2019. Incredibly, within days of the interview airing, a woman came forward and spoke with Renascenca, a radio station in Portugal. Paula Leca, a married mother of two, claimed to be one of the three McDonald’s workers the football player spoke about.
“They would appear in front of the restaurant and when there were hamburgers left over, our manager would give us permission to hand them over,” she recalls, per The Sun.
The woman remembered Ronaldo as “perhaps the most timid of them all” and explained the boys going to McDonald’s and asking for food was almost a nightly occurrence at the time. Leca also claimed that her children couldn’t believe her astounding story. “I still laugh about it all now. I had already told my son about it but he thought it was a fib because he couldn’t imagine his mom ever giving Ronaldo a hamburger,” she explained.
Leca said she found it “funny” that the professional footballer remembered “something that happened so long ago” and added that “It shows his humility.” The mother of two also expressed relief that “now people know this wasn’t an invention.” As for the dinner invitation, the woman didn’t hesitate. “I’d go for sure,” she said.
In another unexpected turn of events, the woman whom Ronaldo recalled as “Edna” also came forward. As reported by The Mirror, Edna Carina Emanuel Caldas spoke to the Record, a Portuguese sports paper, expressing her amazement that the famous footballer would remember her.
“I’m no-one really for him to remember me like that,” she explains. However, she also conveyed her joy at Ronaldo’s success, and the woman concluded, “It shows how wonderful he is that he hasn’t forgotten about small things like this from his past.”