Cristiano Ronaldo became Real Madrid’s all time top scorer in La Liga with his 5-goal haul against Espanyol last weekend. In twelve years, Ronaldo’s game has undergone a transition. Going from a skill-show to a goal-machine, he has followed a relentless work ethic and just like his long shots, Ronaldo just keeps shooting ahead.

Slender frame, curly hair, showcasing some fine flicks and tricks, having a reputation for his dives and go-downs, yet immensely talented. You’ve probably already recognised him– a certain Cristiano Ronaldo from 12 years ago. In a decade or so, Ronaldo has gone from a baby-faced shooter in the dark to a professional sniper.
Nobody had heard of Cristiano before the summer of 2003 when Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United were to play a pre-season friendly but they certainly heard of him after. The boy took the field, seeming confident of his abilities, and played as if he was on a mission to set a new world record for step-overs. He tore the United defence to shreds and Sir Alex Ferguson wasted no time in getting the Portuguese’s signature. In less than a week, he was at Old Trafford and the seeds of legend were sown. Nurtured by Sir Alex, Ronaldo won nine trophies with United and the most precious individual accolade, a Ballon d’Or.

Following his record transfer to Real Madrid in July 2009, the dashing Portuguese Prince’s illustrious career took a step forward. In his time at Madrid, his game has undergone a revolution. He is not a winger anymore, although he is still more than capable of running at full-backs. But his goal scoring record at Real Madrid tells you something. Ronaldo has transformed into an absolute goal machine. He prefers to start on the wing, but more often than not finds himself in positions you’d expect a poacher to be in. He does not dribble with the ball as much as he used to; he does not need to. It is fair to say, he is the world’s finest finisher.

Ronaldo is the complete forward. Every attribute that a forward must have, you name it, and he has it. He is an acme of power, speed, has an incredible dribbling ability, towering aerial presence, and is the latest synonym for a goal-machine.

Along with an evolved style of play, there have also been other significant changes. He does not throw as many tantrums as he used to. Neither does he throw himself to the ground as often. A few of his inherent qualities though, remain unchanged; his attitude towards football, fierce work ethic and of course, an obsession for perfection are still apparent.

After winning the Ballon d’Or for two years in a row, Ronaldo would be hoping to win it for a third consecutive time. But, one man stands in his way as always– Lionel Messi. Although Ronaldo veers of the unremitting squabble of the ‘Ronaldo-Messi’ debate with the same ease with which he performs the famous step-over or feints at his marker, it will be discussed among fans forever. The rivalry has almost become a global topic of discussion.

Ronaldo does have his fair share of criticism for being pompously arrogant. Yes, he does have a big mouth at times, but not bigger than his achievements. While being centre-stage isn’t always a blessing, Ronaldo loves to be in the limelight. They say, ‘Empty vessels make more noise’. I say, here’s a guy with a golden bauble filled with exceptional excellence, making all the noise!