Ronaldo and Bale: their physical transformations

If you went back 10 years, you'd fail to recognise them.

Meryl D'Souza July 6, 2016

Growing up, you were probably a scrawny little kid with acne bursting at the seams.

Even if you were one of the lucky few blessed with flawless skin, you still probably looked weird. But take heed in the fact that most men considered demigods today had pretty much the same problem.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Yes, the two Real Madrid teammates who will lead their respective national teams – Portugal and Wales – in the first semi-final of the 2016 European Championships tonight are the most put together athletes in the world, but they were just like us mere mortals once. The difference? They groomed themselves to the top. 

Sure, they worked hard at perfecting their skills on the field, but it would seem that they, before most of us, understood that attractive people are more successful. So instead of only spending hours on end refining their swerving, dipping free kicks, they also took some time out to groom and bulk up. 

Small wonder

It’s hard to put a time stamp on it but we’d venture a guess and say the above image was when they were both less than 12 years old. While you may now know Ronaldo for his trendy haircut, before it was just a messy mop. With Bale, you can’t help but stare at those alien-like ears.

The early years

At 16, Ronaldo was promoted from Portuguese club Sporting CP’s youth team to the first team. At the same age, Bale became the second youngest player ever to play for England's Southampton. In a team of men, both of them looked so malnourished, even their jerseys looked capable of swallowing them whole.

The big step up

At 18, Ronaldo made the big move to Manchester United while Bale headed off to Tottenham Hotspur. Notice how Ronaldo looks like he’s got fried noodles on his head while Bale looks like the guy who would cover Mad magazine?

The ugly truth

At 19, although Ronaldo was already a name to be feared at Old Trafford, sadly very few people could take the scruffy teenager with acne, disfigured teeth and a frosted tips hairstyle seriously.

At that age, Bale looked like he skipped the acne stage but that hairstyle made it seem like if he wasn’t playing on the field, he’d be singing and dancing away in a high school musical or worse, he was a de-hard Belieber (if he existed back then.)

The hair products take effect

From what we know from Cristiano Ronaldo: The Biography written by Guillem Balague, between the ages of 20 and 21 Ronaldo’s teammates would comment on his hair, shoes, shirts, teeth and skin. Eventually, Ronaldo had extensive orthodontic work done and started to use skincare products. His mullet hairstyle was still questionable, but he started paying attention to his eyebrow game.

Bale only decided to ditch the the pop star look after he turned 21. His faux Mohawk looked much better in training than it did during games though.

The potential for superstardom

By the age of 22, Ronaldo was established in the Premier League and persistent rumours linking him to Real Madrid refused to die down. He got rid of the acne marks and had his teeth worked on, he was grooming himself for that inevitable celebrity status.

Between 22 and 23, Gareth Bale had already made the transition from reticent left back to world-beating left winger thanks to Harry Redknapp. He was a year into that fateful night when he scored a hat-trick against Inter Milan, embarrassing Maicon – one of the best right backs in the world at that time (2011). 

Even the short cropped hair and the heart celebration were already part of him.

Real Madrid comes calling

Both players joined Spanish giants Real Madrid at the age of 24. While both of them looked in relatively good shape, Bale had the upper hands in terms of sartorial choice. 

The physical specimens

By 2014, both Ronaldo and Bale bulked up and showed muscles we didn’t even know existed. But where Ronaldo chose to go for a neat crop, Bale chose to go with a David Beckham look that went out of style in 2007.

2016 European Championships

While Ronaldo has chosen to stick with his slicked back short hair, Bale prefers the man bun. It’s a fairly safe assumption to say that both will take to the pitch with the same hairstyles when they take to the pitch tonight.