Cristiano Ronaldo and Erik Ortiz Cruz with his mother (Reuters / @TodoSomosErik)
Cristiano Ronaldo gets a vast amount of bad press for his preening smugness and arrogance, so much so that it's all too often used to take the shine off his achievements on the pitch - which, lest we forget, have made him the undisputed current best player in the world.
But to give the Portuguese star his due, he is always ready to help those less fortunate than himself - and while he almost never talks about it publicly, fans do get to hear of some of his more extraordinary acts of selflessness when they get picked up in the media.
His latest act of generosity, however, is probably the most touching and inspiring story we've yet to hear.
The Real Madrid star was asked to donate a pair of old boots and a used shirt for 10-month-old Erik Ortiz Cruz, who suffers from a terrible brain disorder called cortical dysplasia.
Little Erik suffers seizures up to 30 times a day due to the illness, and is in desperate need of an operation costing £50,000. His entire village of Villaluenga de la Sagra has been saving and raising money for months to try and cover the costs.
On hearing of little Erik's plight, Ronaldo immediately agreed to help - but rather than just donate his boots and shirt, he paid the entire cost of the operation in full.
Spanish newspaper AS reports the heartwarming tale. It might just be a couple of days wages for the superstar, but how often have you heard of a celebrity helping raise money for charity and wondered why they don't just put their hands directly in their own pockets? Not this time. Ronaldo will surely have just gone up several notches in the estimation of anyone who hears of his latest kind act.
— Erik Ortiz Cruz (@TodoSomosErik) February 21, 2014
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