Look at him. Half of you wants to smack him and half of you wants to run your finger across the arch of his eyebrow and down his arm until you get to squeeze his triceps and ask, “Are those real?” It’s the debate we’re faced with every time we see Cristiano Ronaldo on a screen. Any screen. But the facts don’t lie. This isn’t about Ballon d’Or votes or statistics or club prestige. We’re simply talking about the pure spectacle of watching Cristiano Ronaldo walk, pout, trample over opposition, take his shirt off, and repeat.
He’s great. You know it. We know it. And he definitely knows it.
Back when Cristiano was slender “I need a sandwich and a few pies” Cristiano — leaving Portugal for the depressingly cloudy fun times of Manchester — there was plenty of hype surrounding his arrival. But as with hype around any Manchester United prospect, you never think that they’ll turn into David Beckham, earn a move to Real Madrid, and start an underwear line. You could never predict that, especially back in 2003, when Cristiano was just a young Portuguese talent arriving in England with some suitcases, no English-speaking skills, and a bag of tricks.
But he eventually unpacked the suitcases, picked up enough English to complain to referees, and dusted off that bag. It was those tricks that he would rely on. But after some time, it became clear that those tricks didn’t always have their desired effect; not on the Neville brothers with their hard-working Manchester United mentality. It was impressed upon Cristiano from those in the squad and his father figure manager, Alex Ferguson, that the gratuitous step-overs and diving wouldn’t cut it; not in England where things are done the right way. And so Cristiano went on to cut down on the step-overs, probably ignored everything else, and went on to become the best player in England.
It’s a cute story. But that’s not why Cristiano is No. 2 on the #SG25. Cristiano is here because of his evolution from that Cristiano to #brand Cristiano. There’s really no reason to discuss his ability on the field any longer. Now we pick apart anything wrong with him: how he runs, how he breathes, how he celebrates, how he … see we’ve already run out of things. That’s how boring that is. He’s so good that we all need something else to latch on to.
Thankfully, he gives that to us. Which is why we now live in this world …
And this one …
You see, the reality is, you can’t beat Cristiano on the field (unless he’s in a Portugal shirt); you can’t beat Cristiano on the social media side; you can’t beat Cristiano’s wardrobe — except when he wears dragon shirts — because the world is his wardrobe; you can’t beat his side talent because that’s his business, which will ultimately dwarf anything he does on the soccer field monetarily; and you can’t beat Cristiano’s reputation, which makes other great players join Real Madrid (Gareth Bale) and talk about him like he’s royalty, as if they’ll be shot if they speak ill of the benevolent father. How is this man losing at anything?
There’s one way. Just one. And it’s that none of us actually know who he is. Beyond the #brand and the #socialmedia and his indisputable talent on the field, he simply feels inaccessible. Which in many ways makes sense, in a David Beckham kind of way.
But No. 2 isn’t bad, right? Just think of how intriguing somebody would have to be to overcome this and take No. 1.
The Fake numbers
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