Discussion about who the world’s best player happens all the time. The recently decided Ballon d’Or award ensures that this discussion happens at least once a year. And for four straight years now, the world’s best player (according to come coaches and journalists is He-who-shall-not-be-named.
Various criteria have been discussed and dissected ad nauseam including major trophies won, goals scored in a calendar year, number of assists, number of shots attempted, player with the prettiest wife/girlfriend etc etc and so on and so forth.
There is also another criteria that seems to pop up almost unerringly during any comparison between Ronaldo and that Pacman-inspired-tuxedo-jacket-wearing footballer : arrongance.
One of the main weapons thrown into any debate between the two footballers is how Ronaldo is arrogant and naturally this is juxtaposed with the statement about how humble the little Argentinian is. If the debate/argument continues and one asks for examples of Ronaldo’s arrogance, then a laundry list including some of the following are regurgitated:
- He is rich, handsome and a great player (words used by Ronaldo himself)
- He drives flashy sports cars
- He has a supermodel girlfriend
- He dresses well (according to the people who rank these things)
- He does not smile/laugh much when he plays
- He had the gall to admit to the media that he felt “sad” at his club team
- He points to his thigh after scoring a goal
- He does not give 100% in pre-season press conferences
- He had a reputation for simulation (or diving as it is known)
- He is petulant (for disagreeing with refereeing decisions)
- He is not a team player
Ronaldo may be guilty of all of the above or perhaps none of the above, but it is ridiculous that his perceived arrogance should have any bearing on any discussion about who is a better player. That Barcelona player’s nature, similar to the Englishman Paul Scholes, appears to be such that he seems happiest when he is playing on the pitch and doing what he does best. Off the pitch, the little flea seems to almost shut down and withdraw from the intense media scrutiny. People label this as humility, but that is just the way that four-time Ballon d’Or winner expresses himself off the pitch.
Ronaldo is certainly not the first and will not be the last footballer who is perceived as arrogant. Players such as Maradona, Cantona, Ibrahimovich, Henry, Cassano, Totti etc are not only known for their outstanding footballing ability but also for being confident, bordering on arrogant. Outside of football, there are sportsmen like Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher and Lance Armstrong who are famous for their fiercely competitive nature which could be perceived as arrogance by some.
There is a distinction between footballing ability and perceived character traits. In my opinion, the focus should only be on the former when debating who is a better player. However, human nature means that rational debate will always be trumped by emotional reasons.
P.S. I never liked Alan Shearer as a player purely because of his ridiculous goal celebrations.