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Rondezvous: Cristiano Ronaldo finally set to fly back to Italian job after spending more than SEVEN WEEKS at home during pandemic

Rondezvous: Cristiano Ronaldo finally set to fly back to Italian job after spending more than SEVEN WEEKS at home during pandemic
Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to head to Italy imminently as he prepares to rejoin his Juventus teammates after almost two months in his native Portugal, where he has been supporting his fragile mother since Serie A was suspended.

Ronaldo originally flew to Madeira at the start of March when his mother, Dolores Aveiro, suffered a stroke, briefly returning to help Juventus beat Inter Milan 2-0 at home in their last match before sport in Italy was suspended due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

He headed back to the island in the aftermath of the club returning to the top of Serie A, watching Aveiro continue her recovery while Italy became the worst-hit country in Europe by Covid-19.

Reports suggested that Ronaldo had insisted he would stay in quarantine in Portugal after learning that teammate Daniele Rugani, who had been part of the Juve squad a few days earlier, had become one of the first players to test positive for the deadly disease.

No date has been confirmed for the return of professional football in a country where many matches initially continued behind closed doors in front of mask-wearing fans as the extent of the outbreak worsened, but Serie A sides are believed to be resuming individual training on May 18.

Major sporting events seem a distant prospect as the number of confirmed cases in the country nears 200,000, although strict lockdown measures are slowly being lifted by a government wary of a second outbreak that could risk substantially adding to the current toll of more than 26,000 estimated Covid-19 deaths.

Ronaldo pledged to equip Portuguese hospitals, joined fellow icon Lionel Messi in donating $1 million to healthcare and charitable causes and agreed to waive four months' wages to help Juve pay their staff last month, telling more than 215 million Instagram followers: "Never give up."

The world's most followed athlete on social media has used his profile to urge the public to follow health guidelines and stay fit during lockdowns around the world, as well as sticking to his usual style by regularly showing off his physique and sharing training tips.

Public health officials confirmed that Ronaldo was virus-free and could train outside in isolation after he was pictured working on his fitness at the home of local side CD Nacional and published a video of himself enduring hill sprints as part of a sweaty conditioning session with partner Georgina Rodriguez.

Aveiro posed by the home gym where Ronaldo had shown off his enviable stomach muscles in one of his social media posts, suggesting that his famed commitment to fitness had influenced her by saying: "I have no excuse for not recovering. I do not lack motivation, inspiration and a lot of desire."

Her son could enter quarantine for up to two weeks when he touches down in Turin, according to reports. The man with the most shots in Serie A this season will also be subject to stringent measures as he prepares to add to his 21 goals in the division so far this campaign, aiming to avoid becoming the fourth Juve star to test positive after Rugani, Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala recovered from the illness.

Teammate Douglas Costa and UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov have been among those keeping track of Ronaldo's progress and offering him words of encouragement during his enforced break from football.

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As Ronaldo showed off his muscles again and went through his paces on an exercise bike yesterday, MMA fighter Peter Queally told him: "Stay ready so you don’t gotta get ready."

Juventus are a point clear of Lazio with 12 matches remaining in Serie A, and are 1-0 down from the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie with Lyon in France. A date for the return game in Italy is yet to be agreed.

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