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Cristiano Ronaldo’s fragile ego is pretty sad for someone who has accomplished so much


A clip made the rounds on social media after the Carabao Cup final last weekend. We won’t share it here because the responsible dum-dums don’t need any more attention than they’ve already received, but it basically involved supposed Liverpool fans near the steps of Wembley Royal Box filming the losers Chelsea players as they struggled to collect their runners-up medals and threw a series of senseless taunts at them.

They hissed “the snake” Raheem Sterling, who left his club almost ten years ago. They also politely asked Moses Caicedo‘s mother, who was apparently a factor in his decision to move to Stamford Bridge rather than Anfield this summer: absolutely normal behavior from grown adults.

None of the players involved seemed to raise an eyebrow in response, which was quite surprising when, in the circumstances and with family members having been involved in the whole thing, one would understand if they went all out on Cantona.

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Actually, maybe it’s not that surprising: as a footballer you have to develop a sort of deflector shield, an impenetrable bubble around your head so that you literally don’t hear this stuff, or so you do it, it just falls into some. dead space in your brain, without ever actually registering with your consciousness. There’s no benefit to reacting: you come across as petty and, in the best tradition of a parent telling their child not to stand up to bullies, you’re giving them more satisfaction than they deserve.

It’s a circuitous path to get to Cristiano Ronaldowho reacted to the jeers of the crowd and was duly punished for it.

Ronaldo was banned from one match by the Saudi Pro League and penalized to the tune of 30,000 Saudi riyals (£6,332; $8,000) in fines and costs for committing what was described as an “obscene gesture” towards supporters during the recent 3-2 victory of his Al Nassr team on Al Shabab.

Ronaldo plays for Al Nassr (Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)

This was apparently in response to something he was subjected to for much of his career: chants of “Messi, Messi” from the stands. Ronaldo cupped his ears, then half-crouched and made a strange hand gesture near his crotch: if you were completely innocent, it might look like he was polishing a table, but if you weren’t, it might look like… well, you get the idea. .

After that, a few things came to mind. The first is that, unlike Sterling and Caicedo, it’s clear that it doesn’t take much to get a reaction from Ronaldo, one of the most famous men on the planet and probably very used to to be shouted at by a faceless crowd. .

He and Messi have been involved in this kind of late-life death struggle for about 15 years now, with the two men constantly opposing and comparing each other. So you can understand why this will have become incredibly tedious to say the least, especially considering they haven’t played in the same league since 2018 and haven’t been on the same pitch in a competitive match together since 2020 . .

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Neither plays in Europe anymore and their two most significant achievements are now almost certainly a thing of the past. The Messi-Ronaldo rivalry doesn’t really exist anymore, at least not for the rest of the world.

But clearly, it’s still about Ronaldo, a little worm of insecurity that has burrowed itself into his soul and lodged itself there. Otherwise, why would he bother responding to the mere mention of Messi’s name?

The two situations aren’t perfect comparisons and are only partly brought together here because they both happened within the last week, but it’s remarkable how Sterling and Caicedo were able to ignore much more violence personal coming from a closer proximity, when it was enough to mention the name of another man to provoke a reaction from Ronaldo.

It’s also far from the first time. Last November, Ronaldo silenced the crowd during Al Nassr’s match against Al Ettifaq when the chant of “Messi, Messi” was started by another unimaginative group. In the larger scheme of things, this is all very minor, but one wonders about the fragility of a man’s ego, that the mere mention of a rival player’s name registers, let alone inspires a response of any kind, much less an answer that gets you suspended.

All of this probably isn’t ideal for the Saudi Pro League project either. Ronaldo was their flagship signing and he was successful in that he scored loads of goals and generated a lot of interest, but it wasn’t expected that their key player, one of the main legitimizing factors of the league, be suspended like that.

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One year of Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia

Throw Jordan Henderson they leave after six months and the soap opera continues around Karim Benzema and it’s a mixed bag since they started throwing money everywhere.

For Ronaldo, it’s hard to put his finger on what’s so dark about it all, but it could be because it’s all so outrageous for everyone involved. Despite being a near-superhuman athlete and a true monster, he has little time left in his career, so it’s a little sad that this is how he’s spending his final days as a footballer.

Playing in a poor league – which wasn’t expected, even though he insists otherwise – still haunted by the ghost of the man he’s been compared to throughout his career, but who doesn’t hasn’t really been remotely relevant to him since. half a decade. Everything could have been very different.

Ronaldo and Messi face off in 2020 (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Maybe it’s the internal hell of someone like Ronaldo’s hyper-motivated mentality. Nothing other than being considered the best is enough, so even the mention of the one guy who could deny him that title, at least in his generation, is enough to make him angry.

He will dry his eyes at his incredible wealth and his extraordinary track record, but we will have the feeling that he will never be truly satisfied when the time comes to look back on his career.

For someone who has accomplished so much, this all seems pretty bleak.

(Top photo: Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images)


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