When Cristiano Ronaldo finally left Manchester United to sign for Real Madrid, many questioned if the desire to succeed still burned brightly in the young Portuguese footballer. Afterall, Ronaldo had won practically every trophy there was to be won with the English champions. From domestic titles to European trophies, the best decoration dreamt of by every young player had already decorated his trophy cabinet when he jetted off for Spain.
During his arrival and subsequent presentation to the adoring fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, Ronaldo was also put through his paces that suggested that the celebrity glitz and high profile glamour was more important to both player and club than success on the pitch. The early months of his Spanish career was also a testing time physically as he suffered injuries that put him out for long periods. There were also subsequent brushes with the sport’s laws that saw him suspended for enough games to make the results matter.Despite these problems, Ronaldo has steadfastly maintained that while he believes the world’s best player tag sits comfortably on his shoulders, he has yet to achieve everything he wants as a player. The Portuguese winger is determined to win the Spanish La Liga title with the club he supported as a child and plays for now. Rival club Barcelona’s clean sweep of 6 trophies in the past year would also have driven Ronaldo to want to do the same with Real Madrid.
This year also marks the return of the World Cup finals and the world and South Africa will be his stage. Ronaldo drove Portugal through a testing qualification stage to finally confirm his appearance in the 2010 edition of sport’s greatest show on earth. With a willing supporting cast in the rest of the Portuguese team, the football world, perhaps more, maybe at Cristiano Ronaldo’s feet come June. It could mark the young player’s crowning achievement if he can lead his country to an unlikely World Cup trophy in the final.
Football’s world governing body, FIFA, had already breathed a sigh of relief when initial fears of Portugal missing the World Cup 2010 finals proved unfounded. While the European nation needed a playoff to seal their place, it was never going to reach a point where the world’s most exciting player would be left at home. Ironically, Ronaldo was suspended for the second leg of the playoff and had to thank his teammates for their effort in helping him realise his dream.What is sure to follow in South Africa would be Ronaldo dazzling the world’s audiences with his nimble footwork and breathtaking ball skills. Manchester United fans might be forgiven for feeling a tinge of regret at letting him go, although they really had little say in the club’s decision to profit from the sale of the player given the colossal debt that they are experiencing. But what has been the English champions’ loss can only be Real Madrid’s, and Portugal’s, gain as Cristiano Ronaldo shows them what they continue to miss out on on football’s biggest stage of all, the FIFA World Cup 2010 finals.