Conversations about who the greatest footballer playing the game right now is don’t tend to last that long, do they? The chat quickly turns into ‘Who’s better – Ronaldo or Messi’? And that’s a question for the ages. Plus it’s one we really don’t have time to go into here…
We would, instead, prefer to just concentrate on one of those legends here. Mr. Cristiano Ronaldo. Arguably the best player around. Maybe the best footballer of all time. Whatever your opinion on where he ranks, you can’t deny the man’s quality. His incredible statistics will soon show you up if you even dare to try.
Him and his Real Madrid teammates face their local rivals Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League semi final this Wednesday. They go into the game leading 3-0 on aggregate. And it’s all (well, mostly) thanks to Ronaldo. The man is truly incredible. Here are, for our money, his seven greatest footballing achievements to date:
Scoring That Free Kick For United Against Pompey
Nowadays, you see players attempting this special kind of free kick all the time. Few, though, are ever successful. Even CR7 himself misjudges the majority of them. The technique is known as ‘Knuckleball’ and it had never been tried in England professionally before. Until Ronaldo attempted it against Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth.
The style sees the ball struck in such a way that swerve and curl is replaced by an extremely unpredictable path. This makes shots, effectively, impossible to save. And judging by goalkeeper Davd James’ reaction – it really was unsaveable. James was baffled. The world was stunned.
Winning the Ballon d’Or For The Very First Time
During that ‘Knuckleball’ season, Ronaldo went goal crazy. And he’s not really stopped since then. Strange to think that a decade ago, people were saying that he needed to add goals to his game. Now he can’t stop scoring.
It all changed in 2008. The Portuguese superstar hit 41 goals in all competitions for Manchester United and won the double with them. Which aided his path to picking up the Ballon d’Or. Making him, not for the last time, the best footballer on Earth. He was just 23 when he received his award too. Not bad.
Signing For Real Madrid
When you’ve just won the Premier League and Champions League with Manchester United and also the Ballon d’Or, it’s fair to say that you’re a man in demand. And when a team like Real Madrid come a-knocking, you answer. Ronaldo did just that in 2009 and, a few disagreements with fans along the way, he remains contented there today.
They had to shell out for the man, though. United priced him at £80m, knowing Real needed a marque signing to appease fans and their risky demands paid off. That said, the deal paid off for Real, too. He netted 21 times in his maiden season, then 50 in his second and 66 in his third season with the Spanish giants. He’s now picked up a whopping ten trophies at the Bernabeu since his arrival.
Becoming Real’s All-Time Top Goalscorer
Raúl González Blanco. Otherwise known simply as ‘Raúl’. In Madrid, he’s a legend. Even the red side of the Spanish capital respects his achievements and goal scoring exploits for club and country. Few ever imagined another player surpassing his 228 goals in a white shirt… One of those few that could imagine it? Cristiano Ronaldo. In fact, he knew he would score more goals.
It took Raúl 550 games to reach his tally of 228 goals for Real. Ronaldo managed that feat in just six seasons. Now? He’s scored 280 goals. In just 262 appearances. Let that sink in for a moment…
Five Goals. One Assist. One game.
On Saturday September 12th 2015, Cristiano Ronaldo had quite a good game. He won Man of the Match. And here’s why… He scored a couple of goals. He even set one up. Not bad.
Okay, okay. It wasn’t just ‘a couple’. He scored five that day. FIVE. Espanyol were utterly destroyed by just one player. Ronaldo was unstoppable that day.
Winning Euro 2016 As Portugal’s Talismanic Captain
When that Ronaldo Vs. Messi debate rages, Ronaldo fans can point to one topic that they would argue absolutely separates their man from the Barcelona whizz – international success. Messi is no slouch. He’s scored almost sixty goals in an Argentina shirt. But there’s always been a feeling that he never really hit the heights playing for his country. Albeit he did come pretty darn close to winning a World Cup…
Still, the last major international tournament saw Ronaldo – as captain – lead his national team to glory. Portugal didn’t exactly boss Euro 2016. To put it mildly. In fact, they only just scraped through the group stages, drawing with Austria, Hungary and Iceland. Then then battled past Croatia and Poland with a 1-0 and penalty shoot-out win respectively.
The semi final saw them start to convince. Our man scored in the 2-0 victory over Wales and people couldn’t wait to see if Ronaldo had enough to take on the much-fancied home side, France. But he lasted just twenty minutes. Injury saw him taken off in tears. But from the sidelines he kicked and headed every ball, pushing his teammates to victory. A real leader.
Champions League Hat Trick #7
And now we come up to date. Ever the man for the big occasion, Cristiano Ronaldo smashed a hat trick against Real’s much-hated local foes last week. And in a Champions League semi-final. He’s now hit seven trebles in the competition. One more and he’ll overtake his Barcelona peer, Lionel Messi. Who would write him off bagging an eighth in the second leg…?