Why Cristiano Ronaldo Is the World's Most Athletic Footballer

Frank Wagner@Fw1812Correspondent IApril 17, 2013

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - APRIL 09:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between Galatasaray AS and Real Madrid at the Turk Telekom Arena on April 9, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Throughout the past few years, an endless debate has enveloped football over the title of best player in the world.

The only two candidates, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, have dominated the sport, winning every possible individual accolade and carrying their clubs to the pinnacle of the sport. At this point, it is difficult to mention one of these two greats without mentioning the other.

While Messi seems to have his neck out in front in terms of general success, there is little argument over Ronaldo's status as football's best athlete.

Cristiano is truly the prototype of an ideal footballing specimen, as proved by his pace, power and leaping ability.

Throughout the sport, one would be hard-pressed to find a player quicker than Ronaldo.

The Portuguese international causes nightmares for defenses, racing at his opposite numbers at unbelievable speeds.

That Cristiano can run 100 meters in a time closer to that of world-record holder Usain Bolt than to that of many other footballers is made all the scarier by his ability to control the ball without losing much of his quickness.

As can be seen through the rest of the football world, speed kills. However, Ronaldo's pace is on another level, allowing him to wreak havoc and destroy his opponents while giving him the ability to carry his side.

An underrated portion of Cristiano's game is his power.

The strength of the Portugal captain's shot is obvious through his laser free kicks, but it is his ability to ride a tackle that shows the true extent of his power.

Granted, there are many instances in which Ronaldo goes down much easier than he needs to in an attempt to earn a foul.

However, when he's in the mood, Cristiano has the ability to run through any mistimed challenges and fight through any body checks to force his way on goal.

While his diving seems to overshadow this portion of his game, Ronaldo's power is something that sets him apart from most of his peers.

Finally, it is difficult to think of a player whose skill is anywhere near Cristiano Ronaldo's in the air.

Ronaldo's ability to attack headers is incredible, timing his runs perfectly to strike the ball at optimum speed and using his own momentum to send balls flying.

What's even more incredible, though, is Cristiano's ability to meet balls so far above him. For an example of this incredible attribute, one need look no further than his header for Real Madrid in their Champions League round of 16 clash with Manchester United.

With the ball hung up for him, Ronaldo rose early to meet it and seemed to hover at his highest point for a period of time that defied the parabolic motion attributed to gravitational motion.

From there, he was somehow able to create power and push the ball perfectly into the side netting.

Any one of these attributes would make for a fantastic footballer, but Cristiano Ronaldo's ability to stand out on so many levels makes him a unique talent.

While Lionel Messi has the ability to succeed through his pure skill, tactical acumen and creative genius, Ronaldo's raw talent and physical attributes allow his talent to shine in a different way.

In the world of football, there is no one with more pure athletic gifts than Cristiano Ronaldo.

It makes sense that Messi gets much of the plaudits, but one should equally cherish the opportunity to watch the likes of CR7.


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