Often football’s greatest talents are forged in some of Europe’s less popular leagues.
Cristiano Ronaldo, similar to the likes of LeBron James, is one of the most criticised athletes in the history of world sport.
People love a narrative, a hero and a villain. In the NBA it was LeBron and Steph Curry. In football it’s Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo is an international superstar by way of his footballing genius. He is the most followed individual on Instagram, boasting an incredible 188 million followers. He dates international supermodels and is not afraid to tell you who the world’s best is.
These aspects of his lifestyle, in the eyes of many, can negatively overshadow his footballing. They are factors that have affected his already GOAT-worthy trophy cabinet, as many vie to reject the worlds best as football’s poster boy.
Ronaldo took the footballing world by storm when he debuted for Manchester United at the tender age of 18. This performance was brilliant, and when rewatching it today it’s guaranteed to give you goosebumps.
As soon as Ronaldo graced the pitch he demonstrated a unique flair that had only been seen in glimpses in his brief time at boyhood club Sporting Lisbon. From taking on defenders with vigour, winning United a penalty and delivering a number of incredible crosses, the Manchester faithful began chanting the name of the man who would orchestrate a new era of success for the club.
After winning everything there was to win in his time at United, Ronaldo left for Real Madrid in 2009. He got off to a hot start in Spain’s capital, and at the club he won the Ballon d’Or four times, four Champions League trophies and scored an astonishing 451 goals in 438 games, a 1.03 goal-per-game average.
Since he left Real Madrid the club have struggled to come by goals, not being able to score in 23.94 per cent of their matches – a staggering drop from 8.86per cent when he was with the club.
Ronaldo has now become the first player to win Europe’s top three leagues after Juventus’s Serie A triumph last term. He has as many UCL trophies as Barcelona, steered an unimpressive Portugal squad to the country’s first-ever major trophy at Euro 2016, is tied with Lionel Messi for a record five Ballon d’Or wins and has now scored north of 700 goals for club and country.
To add to this, I encourage anyone reading to check out my Roar article ‘The Ballon D’Or is losing its shine‘ to get a little insight in support of Ronaldo’s claim to the prize last year.
Ronaldo has revolutionised the modern game, running straight at defenders while employing a legendary skill set to leave them lifeless. He is fast and strong and has the ability to score with both feet, plus he’s one of the deadliest aerial goal threats of all time.
If you can see past the subjectivity of Ronaldo’s celebrity lifestyle and kick the good guy-bad guy narrative, the GOAT debate has already been answered for you.
Enjoy him while you can.