At this point in time, it’s safe to assume that whenever Cristiano Ronaldo sneezes not only Europe but the whole world catches a cold, it comes with no surprise considering over 200 million combined fans and followers that he boasts on social media that is Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, a figure that has him the most popular athlete, he is unrivaled in this aspect even by Argentine Lionel Messi.
On twitter only he has more than 43million followers which is more than the populations of Iceland, Ireland, North Ireland, Hungary and Austria combined, but what is more astonishing is that he just happens to be the most celebrated and most criticized footballer simultaneously. For a player of his caliber, only his Barcelona rival can claim to be at par or even better but why are fans, journalists and pundits alike so quick and eager to criticize the genius that is Ronaldo.
The Euro 2016 tournament in France, has seen Ronaldo be the centre of the ‘harshest’ of criticism perhaps ever even for a player who is no stranger to an occasional criticism. Coming into the tournament off the back of an 11th successive champions league title for Madrid and 3rd for him in which he scored a staggering 16 goals, it seemed that the stage was set yet again for his brilliance but that hasn’t been the case especially in the first two games that he failed to find the net after having 20 attempts.
Earlier this week, Spanish newspaper El pais published a scornful article by John Carlin that absolutely took a swipe at Ronaldo. Entitled Cristiano: greatness, sadness and absurdity, Carlin highlights that “Never in the history of football was there someone who would combine such greatness as a player and be so ridiculous as a person.” He adds, after detailing Ronaldo’s snap with Iceland, just why the Portugal captain comes across so poorly.
Former Real Madrid teammate Raphael Van der Vart was not left out of the party, highlighting in an interview that Ronaldo was a ‘boring person’. Arrogant, impatient, absurd, egotistic to mention but a few are the tags labelled on his character. John Carlin goes farther to write that “Ronaldo is the best proof that one may be rich, handsome and famous, and even that one can reach the top of being considered the second best player in the world and, at the same time, be a poor guy. He can surround himself with more and more Ferraris and Rolls-Royces or supermodels but he is not at peace with himself and, at the bottom, he is not happy.”
But that’s beside the point, people need to focus on the important things and leave that which don’t concern them. People need to understand that aside from football, Ronaldo has a life, that he leads however fit he sees, and that the only bargain they have with him is on the pitch.
When compared to Lionel Messi, many have admitted to preferring the latter than the former because of character. Messi has been lauded for his humility on and off the pitch. However, shadows of favoritism have come to my attention to this respect, when he(Messi) had an outburst after losing the Copa America to Chile, people claimed that he was only human and was only showing emotion for missing out in a final. No one hurled insults at the late Muhammad Ali the first time he claimed to be the greatest of all time but when Ronaldo does the same in both scenarios that is, he is crucified.
The reality is that Ronaldo owes the football world nothing, he has proven himself on the stage and when it matters most to his fans, he has been there, the statistics clearly speak for themselves. I understand the need for fans to look for more in athletes than just brilliance, they expect them to be role models in every aspect of life forgetting that these are also human beings no different from the rest of us. The world needs to stop taking the talent and greatness that Ronaldo possesses for granted and just enjoy his brilliance because what he brings to the game, passion and commitment, talent aside might not resurface in another player ever again, the world needs to let Ronaldo be