AZ Alkmaar claimed a comfortable 5 – 0 win over PEC Zwolle but it was the goal that wasn’t that was perhaps the most memorable
Anyone can contribute to The Roar and have their work featured alongside some of Australia’s most prominent sports journalists.
Sitting down and attempting to articulate exactly what Cristiano Ronaldo did against Spain last Friday night Australian time, is almost pointless.
Firstly, because he has done it before. Secondly, he will no doubt do it again and thirdly, it is what he was born and destined to do.
As stunning, controversial at times and perfect as it was, there is an eerie sense of expectation and acceptance whenever one of football’s greatest stars produces a virtuoso performance such as Ronaldo did against Spain.
While his trio of strikes floored the footballing world yet again, the Portuguese captain was really just living out his part of the contract. Since 2003 – 151 international caps and 84 goals later, the man from Funchal has kept his part of the bargain for his beloved Portugal.
The European Championship of 2016 was something of a payback for the loyal work he has done during business hours. During that same period, he has also rolled up his sleeves and reeled off a total of 488 domestic matches for Manchester United and Real Madrid and found the net 395 times.
It’s a little like a website that asks me for an article and pays me a small fee for the work. Or the plumber, electrician or chippy who attends your house to do a few repairs or touch-ups.
I’m sure many readers of this column charge clients for their business acumen, legal or health advice and live up to the arrangement with a quality of service of which they are proud.
In essence, that is what Ronaldo did against Spain, thus living up to his part of the contract. Cristiano’s arrangement is a fairly simple one.
There is no fine print; he shows up at major football tournaments, stuns the masses with skill and brilliance and scores goals each and every time. Whether it be four consecutive World Cups or eight major tournaments, Ronaldo always turns up for work.
The difference between the Portuguese wizard and you and I, is that his services are presented in a far more glorious and inspiring package than ours. Sure, we might have a few flash business cards or a fancy website but neither will probably bring people to tears.
Now 33 years old and with some murmuring doubts building around his ageing body’s ability to continue to produce the remarkable on a regular basis, his performance last Friday showed little has been lost. Perhaps more canny now in his 30’s, he was asked to perform his duties.
And perform he did.
As a point of comparison, if Matthew Leckie, Tomi Juric or Andrew Nabbout manage to slot home three goals for the Socceroos against Denmark on Thursday, I’ll be running around the lounge room with my underpants on my head.
However, so accustomed to the great man have we become and as poetic, beautiful and skilled as the performance was, we tend to accept the astonishing from Ronaldo as the norm. It works in the same way with a certain little, bearded fellow from Argentina.
I heard two guys chatting at my local pool early Saturday morning, just hours after the game had finished.
The tall fellow in the Mooks jumper asked the shorter guy with the takeaway coffee, “Did you see the soccer?”
“No”, he replied. “Did Australia win?”
“No, they play tonight. Spain played Portugal. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick.”
“Yeah? He’s good hey?”
Spare me days. I wanted to start lecturing both of them. I should have moved a little closer and informed them of his 21 million Euro salary and over 600 international and club goals.
I could have told them about his beautiful Spanish girlfriend and the mother to his new daughter Alana Martina, referenced his opulent homes or showed them images of his evolving hairstyles and tints that have become his trademark.
However, I did none of these.
As sure as day, the two men would have been moderately impressed and somewhat envious of his achievements. Yet even in their curiosity and fascination, the men would probably still catch glimpses of the goals in news grabs later that day and shrug of the performance as just another day at the office for CR7.
To those of us with something of a more consistent and keener interest in the beautiful game, we will probably see it and know, that it was something very different.
It was one of the best, at his best, against the best. If that ever becomes a hum-drum experience due to its frequency, football will have lost everything that is special about it.
It won’t happen though, it was too perfect and too special.