Portugal demands the World from Ronaldo
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo holds the ball during a match against Zaragoza during their Spanish League football match at Romareda stadium in Zaragoza on April 24, 2010. (DANI POZO/AFP)
Forget about being the heart throb of all those Real Madrid backers, not to mention the entire country of Portugal.
None of that adulation means you’ve really made it.
Forget about all those car ads and Nike commercials featuring you that have assaulted the public in the weeks leading up to South Africa 2010.
None of those commercial endorsements means you’ve really made it.
Of course, when they portray you in cartoon form on an episode of The Simpsons — one that has your alter ego coming face to face with Homer — well, now you do know you’ve really made it.
When you are Cristiano Ronaldo, you’ve accomplished all these things in your first 25 years on the planet.
You’ve even won FIFA player of the year honours, the highest individual award a player can capture.
Quite an impressive resume.
Of course, there is one glaring omission.
You have yet to lead your country to a significant international title.
Sure, leading Portugal to a fourth-place finish during the 2006 World Cup in Germany was respectable, to be sure.
But the fans in your native land demand more. Much more.
And so do you.
Unfortunately, heading into South Africa 2010, you are facing the most difficult of roads en route to a potential title.
By sheer bad luck of the World Cup draw, you and your teammates on the Portuguese national team find yourselves in the Group of Death alongside Kaka’s high-powered Brazilian squad and Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast team.
With apologies to your guest spot on The Simpsons, now is the time to show the world that South Africa is your stage to shine.
“Our group is very complicated because I consider Portugal, Brazil and Ivory Coast to pretty much be on the same level,” Ronaldo said.
This much is certain: Ronaldo is a game changer. He proved that during Man U’s run to the Champions League title in 2007-08, scoring 42 times in all competitions.
His Achilles' heel, however, appears to be his penchant for getting down when the game is not going his way. He’ll have to show a lot more perseverance in South Africa, where Portugal is certain to endure some rocky moments.
If he doesn’t, you can bet Homer Simpson will be more than happy to mock him.
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THE RONALDO FILE
Name: Cristiano Ronaldo, 25
Club Team: Real Madrid
International Resume: 69 caps, 22 goals.
Did you know?: That Ronaldo was named after former U.S. president Ronald Reagan.