Under the request of Carlos Silva, Portugal’s Football Federation former president who died in February 2007, Cristiano Ronaldo was given the captain’s armband for the first time as he marked his 22nd birthday with a 2-0 victory over five-time World Cup champion Brazil in a friendly match.
A great start for Ronnie at the captaincy level then, but it was only a year later that the current Real Madrid star was officially appointed as Portugal’s new skipper.
As the ex-Manchester United playmaker led the Red Devils to UEFA Champions League and English Premier League success in 2008, he also worked out wonders in Portugal as he scored eight goals during the Euro 2008 qualifiers and led his team to the finals of the competition in Switzerland and Austria. But an injury blow distracted Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2008 European Championship campaign.
The captain’s goal against the Czech Republic on match day two of the tournament proved to be Ronaldo’s sole genuine achievement, as Portugal crashed out from the quarterfinals at the expense of eventual runners-up Germany. The star winger had to undergo surgery a few weeks later and could only return to action in mid-September 2008.
Despite failing to hit top form throughout the 2008/2009 season, Cristiano Ronaldo still managed to score over 20 goals for the Red Devils, as he helped them clinch the FIFA World Club Cup, the English Premier League, and the Carling Cup titles while they finished second-best behind crowned champions Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.
Later in 2009, Ronnie switched to Real Madrid where he enjoyed a great debut as an individual despite missing out two months of action although big spenders Los Blancos failed to clinch a single title.
In the meantime, Cristiano Ronaldo’s career in Portugal suffered a strange decline. The prolific goal scorer couldn’t bag a single goal throughout the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers as Portugal were in serious danger of not reaching South Africa.
The 2010 World Cup exposed Cristiano Ronaldo’s weaknesses as a captain. An easy goal against 7-0 losers Korea DPR didn’t manage to appease frustrated and demanding Portuguese supporters who blasted Cristiano Ronaldo’s unimpressive performances throughout the tournament.
The Real Madrid superstar suffered a Round of 16 exit with Portugal following a 1-0 defeat to eventual World Cup winners Spain, and his bad behavior as he walked off the pitch came under heavy criticism.
Six years back, football analysts had predicted and expected much more from the then-promising young Portuguese. But instead, what the public saw in South Africa was nothing more than an under-par show from Cristiano Ronaldo, the former UEFA Club Player, FIFA World Player, and Ballon d’Or winner.