Cristiano Ronaldo is a player who divides opinions and inspires love and loathing in equal measures. For every supporter he has, there is an equally vehement doubter. However, his performance in the lost cause of Copa Del Rey, has won over a lot of boo boys in the Bernabeu. So much, that Ronaldo feels loved once again. From jeers and whistles, he has gone to hear his name being chanted by the most cynical of Madridistas. If nothing else, he has won the respect of Real Madrid and all the Madridistas, albeit a bit grudgingly.
Straightforward and blunt: Speaks his mind (occasionally a bit too much for his own good)
It seems ridiculous that despite his superhuman efforts and achievements, Ronaldo has been belittled time and again. 100 goals in 100 matches is no longer enough. Nor the numnerous UCL goals and moments of magic. Despite his much documented failures against the Catalans, the criticism coming Ronaldo’s way is much more than he deserves.
So, this treatment of his is certainly not because of his sporting achievements or abilities. What 99.9% of the footballers fail to achieve in their entire lifetime, he has achieved in a single season; And this is not a one off event. He has done it time and again with Real Madrid and with Manchester United. So what is it then?
Of course, modesty is not his strongest point.
”I think I am whistled at because I am handsome, rich and a great player and people are jealous of me,”
This, he said after a particularly rough game against Dinamo Zagreb where he was kicked non-stop without any protection. This comment of his drew howls of derision and scorn from his haters who used it as yet another example of his arrogance. Yet, all of these critics deep down knew that Ronaldo’s comment despite being cocky was not without substance.
After all, apart from Messi, there is not a single player who can claim of producing anywhere near the kind of output of Ronaldo produces. So, if you are in the top 3 players of the world consistently, you have to great player. As to his looks, let the ladies decide as they will be better judges of this particular attribute.
Ronaldo belongs to the generation of “if you got it, you flaunt it”. And that perhaps is the crux of the problem. It is difficult not to be jealous of a person who has got Ferraris and Porsches, chiselled good looks and counts Paris Hilton and Irina Shayk as his girlfriends. In short, living the dream and loving it. So much, that it harbours resentment.
It is difficult not be jealous!
People are more scared of greatness and ambition than they are of mediocrity and subservience. Here is a player who makes no secret of his desire to be the “first, second and third best player in the world”. He wants to be the greatest and does not disguise them under false shrouds of humility unlike some of his opponents.
He wants to score goals, lots of them and throws tantrums when he doesn’t score.
He wants to win trophies, lots of them and 1 Copa Del Rey in 2 years is not it. So what does Ronaldo do? Sulk and throw a tantrum? Funnily enough, no. He starts passing more, stops diving and complains a lot less. He just starts working harder to overcome his shortcomings. In short, Ronaldo the team man wins over Ronaldo the individual.
He is not afraid to take on characters like Mourinho and Ferguson, openly criticising them for their wrong tactics.
Destiny’s stepchild: (Unlucky but not unwilling)
It would seem remarkable that one would call Ronaldo a step child when as mentioned earlier he seemingly has the entire world at his feet. There is a very famous saying: “Some men are born great, some become great and others have greatness thrust upon them”.
When it comes to Messi, he is much luckier than Ronaldo. Not only he was born great but also had greatness thrust upon him. Ronaldo on the other hand, became great by sheer determination and will power to succeed. He was not blessed with the close control and dribbling skills of Messi. No matter, he said, and spent endless hours in the gym and training ground to develop a lethal shot and tremendous physique. Pacy, powerful and determined, the skinny youth of Sporting Lisbon became a uber footballer set out to conquer the footballing world. Heading, shooting and pace became the biggest of weapons in his armoury and the enemies fell ny the wayside.
Messi is lucky enough to have played with some of the best footballers in their prime. Xavi, Iniesta, Ronaldinho, Fabregas, Etoo, Villa, Puyol were all between 25-30, the magical ages of a midfielder, when Messi was hitting peak. They could feed Messi endless balls to score and showcase his magic.
Yet again, Ronaldo was thwarted by bad luck as Giggs, Scholes were much nearer to the end of their careers than at the middle. Even Kaka has been beset with injuries and has never been at his best. Yet again, Ronaldo worked harder and has somehow managed to outshine Messi in scoring goals, if not anything else. This is even more remarkable considering the service available to Messi much superior than what Ronaldo gets.
Messi has Tevez, Aguero and Higuain in the national team to support his talent. Ronaldo has no one with the same pedigree.
Messi has stayed in comfy confines of La Masia since he was 14. Ronaldo had travelled 3 cities by the time he was 16 and has lived in 3 countries in his quest for greatness. He had to deal much more with new languages, cultures and acclimatization than Messi and yet Ronaldo managed to settle everywhere.
Ronaldo’s father a humble gardener, José Dinis Aveiro, died of an alcoholism-related liver condition in September 2005 at age 52 when Ronaldo was 20. Yet he stayed on and fought like a maniac to achieve his dreams.
Charitable and a model professional
When one is in as privileged position as Ronaldo, it is easy to let the fame to get to one’s head and throw it all away. Just ask Ronaldinho, Cassano and Robinho. Yet this has never been the case. In every team he has played in, he is always the fittest player of all. In fact, he has received libel damages over a Daily Mirror article that reported him drinking heavily in a nightclub while recovering from an injury in July 2008. Cristiano Ronaldo’s biggest pet peeves are smoking, people who don’t make an effort and dishonesty.
When the tsunami hit South East Asia, Cristiano flew to Indonesia to help those in need. He auctioned off a few stuff to help raise funds for charity using his star status to reach out needy.
Every single one of his coaches talk about how dedicated Ronaldo is in training and no wonder Ferguson wants him back despite Ronaldo forcing through a transfer. At the heart, he is a footballer and football is his devotion, passion and worship.
Messi and hypocrisy
Ronaldo and Messi are like 2 gladiators in an arena, fighting till the end of days to prove beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt that they are the best. To talk of one, would be incomplete without talking about the other.
Yet, one can’t get help getting a strong feeling that there are double standards of dealing with Ronaldo than with Messi.
Whenever Ronaldo makes a small show of petulance, it occupies headlines. Yet, when Messi blasts a ball in the face of Real Madrid fans, no one cares. When despite receiving favourable decisions in the matches vs. Villarreal and Valencia, Messi lambasted the referee, but there was no one to reprimand Messi from Spanish FA. In fact, nobody said anything at all.
Funnily enough, Messi misses penalties and no one in the world cares. And yet, Ronaldo scores all of them and gets booed! When Ronaldo fails too score, a crisis erupts. Yet Messi’s obvious struggles in Xavi and Iniesta’s absence are either glossed over or ignored.
His dream of winning bountiful trophies both personal and individual have been thwarted by the trio of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi; though the credit deservingly has been mostly given to Messi in general. Yet for the factors beyond his control, Ronaldo is still made the scapegoat.
Humble only till one wins
One of the biggest criticisms that Ronaldo and Real Madrid face is that of arrogance and selfishness. Yet the recent events have shown Messi and Barcelona are no different. Once the points were dropped in La Liga and the struggle became uphill, the false masks of humility, fair play and modesty dropped. The true underlying natures emerged and they were not very nice. Messi, Rosell and Xavi turned heavy duty fire in the direction of referees. And presto, Pinto survived a very obvious red card in the very next match. In fact, NONE of the Barcelona players has been red carded in the last 2 years for on field actions. Real Madrid, on the other hand, have been dished out 5 red cards against Barcelona alone in 2 years, not all of which were correct.
Yes, Ronaldo was selfish and used to dive a lot. Yet, the mark of truly great man comes not from what he was, but rather what he became. Ronaldo has cut down his diving to zero levels learning from his past mistakes. He passes a lot more and is much more involved in team play. When Bernabeu whistled Ronaldo after “El Clasico”, instead of throwing a bitch fit, he responded magnificently: the way a player of his stature should ideally do. He scored twice in 2 legs for Real Madrid against Barcelona and tracked back to neutralize Alves.
The only thing that one can truly accuse Ronaldo and Real Madrid is that of not just being ambitious enough to rule the world, but also being overly open about it. An ambition like that is more than enough to make a lot of enemies.
Real Madrid and Ronaldo have made these enemies by speaking their minds and nothing more.
After the criticism of the ‘winking incident’, he again rose to the challenge and achieved still greater heights at Manchester United.
He missed the penalty against Barcelona in UCL semi-final and Chelsea in UCL final. Yet, he has persisted and maybe someday he will score with a penalty in the finals.
His continuous desire to improve is almost infectious and yet he is not infallible. Ronaldo has made mistakes in past and will make more in the years to come. But he will also create many more moments of magic in the years which will be much more than this mistakes for sure.
But denying that Ronaldo is a phenomenal player is like denying Roberto Baggio his greatness because of THAT penalty miss. Boisterous, a touch arrogant maybe but a human being nevertheless. It would be great if someone took a second glance at Ronaldo’s struggles and his victories before belittling him. Sadly, though, that is unlikely to change anytime soon.
To sum up in Fort Minor’s legendary lyrics
This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name