Cristiano Ronaldo is known as prissy and inscrutable. An enigma. A one-man show. A guy who sometimes looks annoyed when his teammates score.
The New Yorker once wrote that Ronaldo’s compulsion for goal scoring “seems the product of addiction rather than joy.”
They also pointed out Ronaldo’s petty behaviour. Describing a game in the 2018 World Cup, they wrote about a wink (which Ronaldo directed at ex-Real Madrid teammate Dani Carvajal after winning a penalty) which “exhibited the kind of vengeful coldness that Ronaldo-haters find frustrating.”
This isn’t the first time Ronaldo has made a controversial gesture with his eyelid. In 2006, playing for Portugal, he winked at the Portugal bench after Wayne Rooney had been sent off for stamping on a Portugal player’s gonads.
Much of England speculated the sending off was masterminded by Ronaldo. Though that seems a stretch, many people were furious with Ronaldo regardless, due to his protesting to the referee.
These incidents, along with various other moments in Ronaldo’s career, have given him a reputation for being low key vindictive, with a desperate need to satiate his ego by demonstrating his superiority (and being super pissed off in the rare occasions he doesn’t succeed in doing so).
This might explain why he took Messi’s Ballon d’Or win this year so messily.
Lionel Messi made history in Paris earlier this week after lifting his 7th Ballon d’Or award, extending his lead over Ronaldo who has won the prestigious award 5 times.
After the announcement, CR7 reportedly commented “factos” (facts) and a thumbs up emoji on a fan page’s Instagram post which said Messi didn’t deserve the Ballon d’Or and which listed a bunch of statistics suggesting Ronaldo was hard done by in being ranked #6 in the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo commenting “facts” under a post saying Messi robbed the Ballon d’Or and ghosted in big games…— MC (@CrewsMat10) December 1, 2021
I actually can’t believe this is a 36 year old athlete, the lack of sportsmanship and the inferiority complex is despicable. pic.twitter.com/iSMBdbEXey
The post has now been removed. Many media outlets, however, have reported on Ronaldo’s liking and commenting on it, calling it evidence he is a sore loser.
Ronaldo also recently had a bit of a spat with France Football’s Pascale Ferre. Ronaldo wrote on Instagram (translated from Portuguese): “Today’s outcome explains why Pascal Ferré’s statements last week, when he said that I confided in him that my only ambition was to finish my career with more Golden Balls than Lionel Messi. Pascal Ferré lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for.”
“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or. And he lied again today, justifying my absence from the Gala with an alleged quarantine that has no reason to exist.”
“I always want to congratulate those who win, within the sportsmanship and fair-play that have guided my career since the beginning, and I do it because I’m never against anyone. I always win for myself and for the clubs I represent, I win for myself and for those who love me. I don’t win against anyone. The biggest ambition of my career is to win national and international titles for the clubs I represent and for the national team in my country.”
“The biggest ambition of my career is to be a good example for all those who are or want to be professional footballers. The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football. I will end by saying that my focus is already on Manchester United’s next game and on everything that, together with my teammates and our fans, we can still achieve this season. The rest? the rest is just the rest.”
Just 2 days ago Ronaldo posted this essay on IG. He states that he always congratulated those who win, that sportsmanship has guided his career from the outset and that he is “never against anyone.”— MC (@CrewsMat10) December 1, 2021
Whether or not you believe Ronaldo or Pascale, what’s not up for debate is that being petty is a personality trait Ronaldo shares with a lot of high achievers, which typically leads people to dislike you (while also leading to an unusual degree of success).
Even Messi has an element of this to him. Remember the ‘remember my name’ moment when the battered and bruised Argentine scored the 500th goal of his club career, against Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu, in the dying moments of that 2017 El Clasico (winning the game in the process)? Remember his celebration with his shirt raised overhead? Yeah. That.
The petty trait is even stronger in Ronaldo. There is an abundance of examples to choose from. A pertinent one though, beyond his recent spat with the French bureaucrats, is another game from 2017, also between Madrid and Barcelona, this time in leg one of the Supercopa, where Ronaldo comes on, scores to make it 2-1, gets yellow carded for taking his shirt off to celebrate, then – minutes later – gets sent off for (in the referee’s view) diving to try and get a penalty and then makes a move to shove the referee, before thinking better of it (once he’d already given him a light push).
Ronaldo isn’t alone in being a sore loser with an inferiority complex. All the greats are. You don’t become a champion by enjoying losing, after all. Just look at Kelly Slater, Michael Jordan, Sergio Ramos, Conor McGregor. The list goes on.
The best surfer of all time, Kelly Slater, routines gets into arguments with internet trolls and flat earthers, allowing them to get under his skin in the absurd way only someone with a massive ego (and a huge amount of internal drive) might. He’s also known for playing mind games in the water.
Michael Jordan was another notorious poor loser. Examples range from his iconic “sore winner” speech to his refusal to obey a golf club dress code and being banned for life.
Sergio Ramos, another footballing icon (although not quite on par with Ronaldo), is another great in his own right and another great example of how – on the field at least – many sports greats have a giant, inbuilt, competitive chip on their shoulder (and a desire to potentially wrench out someone else’s shoulder).
What can we take from this? To be true champion, you need a bit of an inferiority complex, a bit of a chip on your shoulder. A competitive drive that can’t be satiated.
Out of all of these examples, however, Ronaldo appears to be the gift that keeps on giving, having not seemed to have mellowed out over the years in the slightest (as Liverpool’s Curtis Jones and France’s Pascale Ferre will attest).
I’d argue that’s what will make him – in many people’s view – the greatest footballer, when we look back on this era. Far from being mature, to be a true world-class great you need to be easily slighted. Who knew?
Messi might be a better playmaker, but judging by this emotional metric, as many people do, Ronaldo is the true GOAT footballer. 2021 stats (and Pascale Ferre) be damned.
The other way of looking at it is this: Ronaldo resonates with strikers, and Messi resonates with attacking midfielders and wingers. But that’s a debate for another day.