Any Real Madrid game arrives with the hushed excitement of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo play. The Champions League Final was no different, with the 2013 Ballon d’Or winner the undisputed player of the tournament with 17 goals. Despite this, the final led us to question how much we really know about the Portuguese wonder?
With past labels such as ‘diver’ and ‘selfish’ synonymous with the Ronaldo brand, these have now been replaced by ‘unstoppable’ and ‘the best.’ His actions in the Champions League final questioned this change. He played fine, neither good or bad.
Striking, however, was his lack of celebration at the two biggest goals of their season, the first by Ramos in the 90th minute, followed by Bale’s gymnastic header – the winner. Crucially, these goals were not scored by him.
The goal he did get, the irrelevant last goal, was met by an almost premeditated celebration of Ronaldo’s physique, a message to the world why he is the greatest and that his goal was the greatest.
These actions render the feeling that Ronaldo wouldn’t have been happy with a Real Madrid win without a goal from him, whereas one wouldn’t get the same vibe from Gareth Bale. For him, the biggest game deserved the biggest goal from the biggest player – him.
Maybe this is unfair of me to call selfish, maybe this is simply what makes him the best, that mindset of believing he is deservedly the best, and what sets him apart from the everyday man playing Sunday League. Unfortunately, the Ronaldo I thought I knew has faded, and is veering back towards the one I first met on the front of newspapers in a red jersey in 2003.
Maybe this is just a teething stage in the relationship between myself and Ronaldo, and the World Cup will help me decipher the Portuguese enigma.
Rory O’Regan, Pundit Arena.