Cristiano Ronaldo is like the Kanye West of football – he always divides opinion. Some said that Ronaldo is an egocentric primadona who thinks that the world evolves around him while other said Ronaldo is a very driven athlete who only wants the best and can’t take anything but being first. Haters gonna hate, but like nobody questions the musical genius in Kanye, only a few would argue about Ronaldo being one of two biggest talents in world football these days.
The other is, of course, Lionel Messi, the legitimate incarnation of the Argentine footballing god Diego Maradona as it’s been admitted by the legend himself. The fact that Messi is playing in the same era with Ronaldo is kind of overshadowing the Portuguese’s achievement. Ronaldo has won a lot of trophies and individual awards with Manchester United and Real Madrid, but Messi has won more.
Ronaldo is fully aware of the unceasing comparison between him and Messi. His larger-than-life personality makes it easier for public to side with Messi instead of him. Ronaldo fancies the spotlight and willing to spend hours in front of the mirror to style his hair while Messi is more a down-to-earth person and do most of the talking on the pitch. The general opinion is everything Ronaldo can do, Messi can do it better.
Although Ronaldo seemed to keep it to himself, it’s not until recently that he looks completely irritated by the unavoidable comparison. During the Euro 2012 group match against Denmark, Ronaldo missed a sitter and the Danish supporters chanted “Messi! Messi!” that made him steamed with anger. Ronaldo made a riposte after the match, incorrectly referring to how Messi and Argentina had been eliminated from Copa America around this time last year, when in fact, Argentina made it through to quarterfinal. Ronaldo might not get the fact right but it shows how the nonstop comparison has begun to affect his mind.
Messi is certainly the least annoyed person of the two but he and Ronaldo actually share a similar thing that makes both of them are actually not so much apart. It’s the lack of achievement in international level. Ronaldo and Messi might have won countless trophies in club level but they haven’t made any mark with their respective national teams.
The star-studded Argentina team crashed to defeat in the hands of Germany in 2010 World Cup and couldn’t make it further than quarterfinal in last year’s Copa America. Messi didn’t perform to his standard in both competitions, putting him in the bracket of “chokemanship” in international level.
Ronaldo is no stranger to chokemanship either. The most memorable mark made by the winger with the national team was the eye-winking accident that accompanied Wayne Rooney’s sent-off when Portugal met England in 2006 World Cup. Beyond that, Ronaldo had not made anything significant in Portugal shirt until last week.
Rising from the disappointment to score a couple of open chances against Denmark, Ronaldo propelled Portugal to come back from a goal deficit to beat Netherlands. Ronaldo scored two goals and almost made it a one-man show. He was named the Man of the Match and the long-awaited superstar has finally arrived in international football.
The terrific display against Netherlands was followed by another great performance against Czech Republic in the quarterfinal round. Ronaldo hit the post twice before his diving header broke the deadlock. The credit should go to Joao Moutinho who bursted down the right flank to deliver a perfect cross but Ronaldo will be remembered for driving the Portugal team through once again.
Ronaldo will turn 27 this year and he desperately needs to make his mark in national team level. He will be two years older in 2014 World Cup in Brazil and he will be in his thirties during 2016 Euro in France. Portugal’s opponent in the semifinal will be decided between Spain and France and Ronaldo will fancy his chance to cement his place as one of international greats.
This is his time to completely say goodbye to chokemanship.