Written by Staff Writer
English author and writer Anthea Hamilton recently released a novel about Lionel Messi: Boyish. It’s the second volume in a series and clearly not intended as a novel about any football player.
During the Madrid derby over the weekend, Manchester United supporters were celebrating their team’s 1-0 win over arch rivals Manchester City. But it was not the headlines that focused on the drama of the game, but rather the reaction of the club’s star player.
The match in question was between United and City at Old Trafford on Sunday and fans who were in the ground were thrilled with the comeback. Old Trafford has always been a happy place for the Red Devils, who have dominated English football for decades.
But they couldn’t ignore the news of Cristiano Ronaldo’s thrilling 7-minutes and 45-seconds at the end of the game.
On Sunday afternoon, Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated scoring a late winner with a goal celebration that featured a frightening array of tricks and dazzling moves, none more intense than a pirouette that split the netting completely open.
Widely praised by fans and commentators alike, Ronaldo’s breathtaking goal was the focus of many other videos that flooded social media.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Mamelodi Sundowns, Johannesburg, 2016)
Ronaldo’s unexpected celebration with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (Milan Fiumicino stadium, Rome, 2016)
If one can call it a celebration, this daring low street jump, and its spinning end product is something we will not soon forget.
The stratospheric talents of a man like Ronaldo mean that media buzz is as closely defined as his game.
But Portugal’s prime minister, Antonio Costa, has picked one campaign for Ronaldo to concentrate on, in a message following the announcement of the player’s pregnancy.
The message reads, “It is important to engage with social responsibility and to return to the party. Obrigado. Q’00-00-016” which translates as “First-100-goal tournament.”
This is hardly surprising. Ronaldo will be 34 years old when the next World Cup kicks off in June. His impact on the European Championships last summer was overshadowed by focus on Messi’s and France’s legendary coach, Zinedine Zidane. This means it is not surprising that the case for raising Ronaldo’s status is gathering momentum.
A profile of Ronaldo in Esquire magazine last year highlighted Ronaldo’s great passion for children’s charity, UNICEF and the same tribute was made by a magazine recently called Global’s people magazine, which focuses on unifying communities around a common cause. The 2017 issue is titled “for Ronaldo, nothing has to be normal” and focuses on his international outreach.
Francisco, a Roman Catholic priest in his 30s, plays soccer for the local children’s team and says the Ronaldo’s domestic success is a “mockery of our history.”
“The Spanish people cannot accept that they have in their backyard someone who is more famous than they are,” he continues. “We will not congratulate Ronaldo. We will fight him from our part.”
For some, Ronaldo’s hold on international football fame is undisputed. Jorge Lametren, a reporter for the weekly Spanish newspaper, Vogue, recently released a documentary that included interviews with Ronaldo’s opponent in the World Cup game, Julen Lopetegui, Spain’s coach in the 2013 World Cup, and John Terry, the former Chelsea player who is now the team captain.
In Terry’s words: “Look at Ronaldo, his very presence, does he count as one of the best players, or simply as one of the greatest in the world?”
Bruno Hernández, a journalist in London, says he is surprised at how popular Ronaldo is with Spanish children.
“If he really does have that influence over the children, he will go far. People love him. He does real well at young conventions,” he says.
Between December 2015 and April 2018, 474,259 people from Spain uploaded more than 3.5 million videos with the hashtags #Cristiano and #CristianoRonaldo respectively.
Which raises a deeper question: What do children and Ronaldo have in common? Have Madrid and Portugal’s best player become simply bigger than football?