2010 FIFA World Cup: Comparing Cristiano Ronaldo to American Athletes
When your 16-year-old sister decides to watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup with you instead of watching MTV's "The Hills," you know there has to be a good reason.
Maybe your sister just wants to increase her knowledge of world sports. More than likely, however, she wants to ogle soccer's newest poster boy: Cristiano Ronaldo.
Although he is often considered second to soccer prodigy Lionel Messi in terms of skill, Cristiano Ronaldo has become the (prettiest) face of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Ronaldo's skill on the grass has not only earned him world recognition, but also a giant paycheck.
With fame and fortune in hand, Ronaldo is on the fast track to becoming the most recognized foreign face in America since David Beckham.
So which Americans would the Portuguese recognize?
Here is a list of American Athletes who, like Ronaldo, act as poster boys for their respective sports.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the highest paid soccer player in the world when England club Manchester United sent him to Spain's Real Madrid for the equivalent of $132 million.
In 2007, Alex Rodriguez became the highest paid player in MLB, signing a 10-year, $275 million contract with the New York Yankees.
Although he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, Rodriguez is still widely considered one of the best baseball players of all time.
Cristiano Ronaldo has a lot to prove before he can be considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time, but for now, the 25-year old is having success similar to that of Rodriguez.
A-Rod became the youngest player in history to hit 500 home runs; Ronaldo earned the 2008 "Ballon d'Or," or the "Golden Ball" award, an honor given to the best European soccer player each year.
Cristiano Ronaldo was an extremely successful footballer as a child, and has further developed into one of soccer's best young guns.
In 2008, Ronaldo helped Manchester United win the UEFA Champions League tournament, the European equivalent to the NFL Super Bowl.
Like Ronaldo, NCAA Football's Tim Tebow made a name for himself by winning the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore at the University of Florida. He also helped the Florida Gators earn two BCS National Championship titles.
Florida will never be the same without Tebow. Likewise, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team will never be the same without Ronaldo.
Andy Roddick is often considered the best contemporary American male tennis player.
Roddick has only one Grand Slam title to his name—he won the 2003 U.S. Open.
The 27-year old is still a highly ranked player, but has failed to earn a Wimbledon title in three final match appearances. Roddick nearly beat Roger Federer in the 2009 Wimbledon championship match, but suffered a heartbreaking loss in a record-breaking 77 games.
Cristiano Ronaldo won the 2008 Champions League, but has yet to earn a World Cup title with the Portuguese national team.
If Portugal wins the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo will be praised for centuries in his home country. If Portugal loses, Ronaldo will, like Roddick, have a major achievement hanging over his head.
The comparison between Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Phelps is a bit of a stretch.
Sure, both athletes represent their respective sports, and both are extremely talented.
If Cristiano Ronaldo can help his country win the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he will be a lot like Phelps—famously decorated on a world stage.
If you ask any one person in the U.S. who his or her favorite soccer player is, you'll likely hear "David Beckham" or "Cristiano Ronaldo."
If you ask any one person in Europe who his or her favorite NBA player is, you'll probably hear "Kobe Bryant" or "LeBron James."
Like Ronaldo, James is a great, young athlete. Furthermore, Lebron James is about to enter free agency—like the Manchester United-Real Madrid exchange—the transaction that will potentially send James to a different team will earn the young man a boatload of cash.
The comparison between James and Ronaldo is easy: both men are the poster boys of their respective sports.