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Cristiano Ronaldo Receives a Pass in Career Twilight

"Dani Alves & Cristiano Ronaldo" by Nathan Congleton is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Regardless of how the career of Cristiano Ronaldo comes to an end, the Portuguese has already cemented his place as one of the all-time greats.

Any talk about GOATs, from the legendary Pele, to French master Zinedine Zidane to Lionel Messi will always face comparison with Ronaldo.

Sportsbooks all over the world, including US, UK or Indian bookmakers or online sports betting Nigeria has, all have had a huge focus and pull towards Ronaldo in goalscorer odds. His record-breaking career has been nothing short of stunning, having racked up some remarkable statistics.

With the media apparently lapping up negative attention about Ronaldo in the twilight years of his career, it’s a good time perhaps to remind people of just what CR7 has brought to the game. 

Does Ronaldo Need To Defend Himself?

After a startling interview with Piers Morgan on British TV ahead of the 2022 World Cup, Ronaldo paved the way for an exit from Manchester United. Among the bombshells he dropped, CR7 criticised the unambitious hierarchy at the club and stated that there was no respect for head coach Erik ten Hag.

There was no going back to playing for Man Utd after that. His second stint at the very club that put him on the map ended sourly. Ronaldo was not getting playing time in the 2022/23 EPL season, had refused to come on as a token late sub in a match and things had clearly fallen apart.

At the 2022 World Cup, he was benched by Fernando Santos after the boss had been unhappy with Ronaldo’s gestures after being substituted in the previous match. Ronaldo seemed to develop a habit of disappearing early down the tunnel at the end of matches. He looked far from being a happy player for a while. But he doesn’t really need to defend himself.

Ego Or a Will to Win?

A lot of the media has slammed Ronaldo for having an inflated ego. For him not being a team player at Manchester United and more recently on the international stage. But annoyance and aggravation don’t just come up for no reason. Ronaldo is a competitor of the highest order.

He probably knows deep down that his prime days as a player are behind him. That has to hurt on an emotional level deep inside. No matter how much time he puts in at the gym, or how much extra training he does, Father Time has caught up with him as a player. As it does all.

But credit to the man, he still has a great will to win. Maybe because he’s not been getting the chance to still show what he’s got, his grievances have not been out of arrogance or ego. Maybe it has been more down to frustration. It’s that drive of his, his innate will to still chase records that probably makes him a bit ticked off when he is wasting time on the subs bench. Put like that, seeing a grumpy Ronaldo makes sense.

Celebrate the Great CR7

But let’s change the tone. Let’s celebrate the great CR7 and what he has done since he stepped onto the stage with Sporting CP in the Portuguese top flight back in 2002. That’s more than two decades of playing at the highest levels in the game.

When future stars of the game take centre stage after he’s hung up his professional boots, they will be standing on the shoulders of Ronaldo. Like him or not, he has been a game-changer, a model of what true excellence on the pitch looks like.

Ronaldo’s a player to celebrate, to revere when browsing back through the history books and records. When fans sit around trying to piece together the greatest all-time eleven, Ronaldo’s name is going to be on the table.

Achievements Speak for Themselves

At the 2022 World Cup, Ronaldo became the first player to score in five different World Cup tournaments. A successful penalty against Ghana saw him achieve that feat. If that doesn’t speak to the longevity and ability of CR7 then nothing does.

Ronaldo has had five UEFA Champions League medals hung around his neck. He has won domestic league titles in the English Premier League, Italy’s La Liga and in Spain with Real Madrid. He’s won the European Championship and Nations League with his country.

There are his five Ballon d’Or crowns, four European Golden Shoe wins, Premier League, La Liga and Serie A Player Of The Season Awards. There were his remarkable 48 league goals in the 2014/15 La Liga season. This list goes on. And On.

Nothing Changes One Fact

Cristiano Ronaldo has had the world at his feet. He’s taken centre stage and hit the highlight reel so many times during his long, successful career. CR7 has inspired kids across the world who want to become someone great like him.

He’s pulled fans into stadiums across the globe, who have just wanted to get a glimpse of him playing. Shirts with the Ronaldo 7 on their backs are going to become something of collectors’ items.

It’s remarkable stuff for just one man to have had such a huge influence on the game. One fact is for certain and that’s that CR7 has left a huge legacy as a player. It doesn’t matter if he fades away, or goes out with a bang in celebrating one more league title somewhere. He’s still Cristiano Ronaldo.