"I have nothing but praise for the boy. He is easily the best player in the world. He is better than Kaka and better than Messi. He is streets ahead of them all. His contribution as a goal threat is unbelievable. His stats are incredible. Strikes at goal, attempts on goal, raids into the penalty box, headers. It is all there. Absolutely astounding."
Sir Alex Ferguson, July 2009.
If you're not familiar with Cristiano Ronaldo, even if you're American, you've probably been stuck in a cave for the past five years.
C. Ronaldo is, unquestionably, one of the finest footballers on the planet. He single- handily won the Premiership with Manchester United three years ago. He's scored an unreal 42 goals in all competitions.
2010 was his first year at Real Madrid and he scored an amazing 26 goals in 28 appearances.
He's been named FIFA's World Footballer of the Year.
He won a Champion's League title with Man U. in 2008.
He's now Captain for his native Portugal in the 2010 world cup.
He possesses uncanny speed, coordination, and strength that should be reserved for a cheetah.
On a dime, he can turn, cross-over three times, blow past his defender, and place the ball twenty yards away, past an outstretched keeper, in a two foot square target in the goal.
He's that damn good.
Yet, he shouldn't be.
He shouldn't be at all.
Look at him, he looks like a combination of Ricky Martin and Chucky. He's all tan, hair gel, and white teeth.
He doesn't look like a footballer.
He looks like a mannequin in a magazine for tanning products.
Footballers should be ugly. They should look like Zinedane Zindane, Ronaldhino, Steven Gerrard, or Vinnie Jones.
They should have bent noses and scowls on their faces.
Yes, David Beckham is pretty, and so is Michael Owen, and even Fernando Torres.
But Ronaldo is different. He tries so hard to look pretty. It's almost as if he doesn't want to get his uniform dirty playing the game. He doesn't want one hair to be out of place.
I think he'd prefer to play with a mirror just so he could marvel at himself.
I just don't get it.
He doesn't look like the kind of guy who will work hard at practice. Yet to play at his level, he must practice day and night. He must sweat and sacrifice and run 'til he pukes.
Ronaldo looks like he couldn't be bothered to run up a flight of stairs.
He doesn't look like the type to think about the game, yet he must absorb himself in it. He must think about it constantly.
From his interviews, it would seem that the most complex thought Ronaldo has ever had was which conditioner would go best with his shampoo.
He doesn't look like the type that can handle pressure, yet he's the one making penalty kicks and scoring goals.
The game looks so easy for him. His arrogance and conniving attitude suggest that it is that easy for him. That he's on a level over anyone and everyone, and he knows it.
The fans should know it.
His opponents should know it.
Of course, the refs should know it.
The look on his face when a teammate flubs one of his passes, or when one of his shots don't go in, is one of annoyance. As if his making a mistake is somehow a mistake of nature, on par with the laws of gravity being rebuked.
Alex Rodriguez perhaps comes closest to Ronaldo, but A-Rod at least tried to portray himself as a good guy. Ronaldo seems to love the part of the cad, the con man, the thief.
He's dating Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton for crying out loud.
Yet, for all his personal flaws, he keeps getting better. He hasn't flamed out like Ronaldhino. He hasn't gotten fat like the other Ronaldo. He hasn't given in to injuries like Michael Owen. He hasn't given into indifference like Thierry Henry.
He plays the game with a lot of passion. It's obvious he trains very hard and practices to master his craft.
He hasn't squandered his talent the way George Best did in his time.
Part of me wants to get a razor, shave Ronaldo's head, dunk it in a vat of tar, then throw him in a bed of duck feathers. Yet, for all that, I love watching him play. He's an absolute wonder to behold with the ball at his feet, or making one of his patented runs into space, or when lining up for a free kick.
Watching him make runs and passes against North Korea yesterday was like watching Picasso paint on a canvass. They were simply gorgeous, sublime, and perfect.
I just don't get it.