My mate Cris? Yeah, he’s a bit of a Portugeezer!

by Mystical Mike

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Best in the world?

Let’s face facts people. Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro is a talent, although I find it easiest to describe him as the “marmite on toast” of football as you’ll either love him or you’ll hate him. Either way I’d stake my holiday money to Chamonix next year that each and every one of you have not at least once sat in watching him play and uttered those immortal words “hmmm – now how did he do that?” It’s nothing to be ashamed of, feel you need to attend confession or reach out for the yellow pages and find the number of your nearest shrink. Is it not a credit to the Premiership and English football that we can attract talent of this kind? Surely it must be? Long may it continue, and now with more quality big stars like Torres and Robinho lighting up stadiums everywhere, I’m getting a touch of the Richie Cunningham’s folks – Happy Days!

Born the 5th Feb 1985 and named “Ronaldo” by his father after Ronald Reagan and his overflowing respect for the man – I wonder if he saw any of his movies? He is the baby of the family with one older brother Hugo and two older sisters, Elam and Liliana-Catia. At the age of three he began kicking a ball (this one completely independent from his fathers’ personage) in nothing more than dusty farmland and at 6, when he began primary school the love for the game was obvious in him. In fact I heard Lord Vader made a personal visit to the school (based on the local council paying for his tie-fighter fuel between Madeira and the Death Star) to be later quoted as saying “yes, the flare is strong with this one!”

With family encouragement and hours of practise, it was at the age of twelve that Ronaldo had established himself as serious scouting material. The race began for the nearly teenagers’ signature, offers from F.C Porto and Boavista came in but Ronaldo only ever had his sights on his childhood team, Sporting Lisbon. Cristiano slowly worked hard up the ranks and as a direct result of his enthusiasm he was thrown into his 1st game at 17 against Moreirense. A dream debut ensued for the youngster, two goals and a “pull out the stops” performance gave the Sporting supporters certainly someone to discuss on the trip home. Soon, as is the fate of most, the potential of Ronaldo was recognised by the rest of Europe including the likes of Juventus and Liverpool. His up and coming rise to fame (no leg-warmers were harmed in the making of this article) saw him break into the Portuguese U-21 squad (without the use of any safe cracking equipment or the aid of a safety net) where not only did he entertain again but he knocked our beloved England side out. Hold the line please caller, I have a mild case of the de-ja-vu’s!

Even though Ronaldo had declared his love and future pledge to Sporting after finishing first in this his first year, the end of this season saw both Ronaldo and another small(?) talent in Ricardo Quaresma hit the road. The money, as is so common these days, was too great this time for the Portuguese club to turn down. So Cristiano “Littlest Hobo” Ronaldo was off like a bride’s nightie to pastures new, but where? Manchester of course! The home of Hollyoaks, le pluie and the Red Devils. So here beginith the lesson under a new manager, currently an un-knighted Alex Ferguson. What was the future to bring then to the fans of Manchester, (and surrounding catchment area of most of Europe, the US of A and large areas of Asia – whatever happened to supporting your local team? I digress), well the £12.24 million price tag surely would have got a few jaws wagging and old dears talking whilst reading “Hello” and having their “Alf Garnets” nuked and styled at Crazy Cuts!

Ironically, just three days before his transfer to the Reds, Ronaldo had played for Sporting in a 3-1 friendly win over United in Manchester, where the youngster shone – pole star like! Once Ronaldo had eventually signed, he was the most expensive purchase of a teenage footballer in Britain.

However, too many he was still a relative unknown, was this not just too much of a gamble for the price tag? I think it’s safe to say it begged many a question of fans and lovers of the game alike, yet those who have seen him play just knew that something special had landed at Old Trafford.

So not only was this an exciting time for United, their fans and admirers of the great game but what a set of boots to fill. On the 12th August 2003 saw Ronaldo holding aloft the mighty no 7 jersey (chosen because of his hero Luis Figo) on the haloed ground, and not looking too different from a certain Mr Beckham in so much as it was a dream come true. All the hard work had paid off and now massively excited, hoping the bubble will never burst. His first appearance was an hour into a home match at home to Bolton. In this time he managed a man of the match performance in just 30 minutes, assisting in two goals and winning an unconverted penalty. The tabloids the next day hailed Ronaldo as the next George Best, surely a compliment too large for someone still so young? What would you say now though? Interesting eh?

He’s now 5 years in, 23, developing into a more mature player with a keen eye for goal and success with Man United. The skilful arsenal he possesses is enough to frustrate any defence. To see someone perform so many successful step-over’s, without the aid of any bionic-enhancement-surgery is a sight. We’re all wondering if he’s done an impression of doddery Aunt Maud at 6:30 on a Sunday evening and “overcooked it”, only to witness him skin another defender and score or whip a ball into the box so tempting that to put it anywhere but the net would be blasphemous. Step over’s, drag backs, back-heels, cheeky-chips (without ketchup!) he has the whole arsenal – the guy is silkier than silky the silkworm at a silk scarf convention.

However like stories, coins and a nice char-grilled turbot there are always two sides. Whilst we can revel and spend hours watching the class that he certainly possesses, we can also spend brief seconds watching him make an embarrassment of his good self, and ultimately a mockery of the game. When a player has so much quality why does he need to adopt the “she fell over” tactics, I don’t understand it. Yes it’s true, good players are targets for an oppositions sights, I accept that, without agreeing this is how the game should be played. There are obviously tactics and “tactics” aren’t there. He quite infuriatingly plays for fouls and free-kicks and has the whole outfit with the aftermath roles to have the whole scene just to be missing some touchline judges scoring his performance. It’s a shame. The incidents with Rooney, his teammate no less, at the 2004 Euro’s and getting him sent off and within the media wanting to “desperately” move nearer home to Real Madrid just emphasise he still really can be just a “boy” in a man’s boots.

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  • Stevie

    there is no denying the boy is a quality player, but recently he has been acting like a right arrogant twat. Walking around like he owns the field.

    I had a good discussion yesterday about play acting and we came up with the solution. If a player goes injured then he must spend 5 minutes of the pitch for treatment, this will stop all play acting and the game will become better for it!

  • James Farrier

    I think what matters more with Ronaldo is not how people perceive him now, but how he’ll be revered in generations to come.

    If he can continue with the same form of last season along with the same level of tosspot antics for the rest of his career, he’ll go down in history as the player of his time, with the kind of mixture of genius and arrogance that George Best or Diego Maradona are best remembered for.

  • Stevie

    he aint a patch on Messi, he is banging them in this season, he is much more exciting to watch too!

  • Matt Quinn

    I agree Stevie. He cant hold a candle to Stevie.
    Good player tho Ronaldo is, its a pity for him that he is in the same generation as Messi- who will go down in history as the greatest player to ever play the game. I fully believe that!

    I think Ronaldo knows that too. Thats why he’s so desperate to win WPOTY this year- as he probably wont get a chance again.

    Plus last stats i saw:
    Ronaldo – 97 career goals in 269 games.
    Messi – 43 career goals in 112 games.

    That equals: Ronaldo one goal every 2.77 games and Messi with a goal every 2.6 games.

    So even Ronaldo’s amazing goal-scoring exploits last season dont put him ahead of Messi. Despite it being oft quoted as why he is the better player.

    This season, Messi has scored 15 goals and has 13 assists in 16 games.
    Think Ronaldo got 2 assists all year, last season.

    And we all know Stats prove everything.

  • Matt Quinn

    That meant to say… “cant hold a candle to Messi.”

    Ive never seen Stevie play- so dont know if he’s the best player of his generation.

  • Darren

    Is Stevie the new Messi? Ronaldo can’t hold a candle to him!

    Messi has an impressive scoring ratio, but what about the DAD strike force? 75 in 96 between them. What’s the ratio on that? Must be better than Messi’s?

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