Saturday, 6 April 2013


I have quite often come across comparisons between the two famous name-sake soccer icons with the name Ronaldo.  Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima born in 1976, and hails from Brazil (exactly a generation apart from his name sake) two-time world cup winner and three times FIFA player of the year.He may have hung up his boots after an outstanding career, but still commands the name recognition his achievements in the game accord him. Then there is Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro. Born in 1985 - FIFA Player of the year 2008, European Champions League Winner, and goal scoring juggernaut for Real Madrid. It's an interesting comparison, and I bet both men privately fancy it to go on forever, as it's a bellwether of their mutual standing in the great Soccer Players' hall of fame.


There is a caveat to this fancyful, if not purile notion.  Nearly every player's worth is defined by their generation, and every generation is ever so slightly different from the past one ;  these differences come about through the advancement of Science and technology ( better fitness equipment, and drills, plus healthcare ) evolutionary trends with the tactics of the game, as much as anything else.  So, when we compare, what are we really comparing by ? The elements that comprise the yard stick for making an opinion is evolutionary. Instead, lets just enjoy the pleasure, these amazing athletes provide us with. The Likes of Puskas, Pele, Cryuff, and even Maradona played in eras  relatively behind today's, in standards of science and technology. Even the rules of the game then,  was such that Vulgar tackling did not necessarily warrant  the sanction it does now. Not to mention the offside rules, the backpass rules, soccer boots being a lot  better ; then there is the ball in use now which is desigened to swerve unpredictably. Cristiano Ronaldo has exploited this advantage demonstrably, with his eponymous free kick technique. Greats, recent, and long ago would look-on in chargrin at the benefits  advancement in statutes, science and technology, as well as tactics has afforded subsequent  generations to achieve hitherto unfathomable milestones. This means you cannot perfectly compare the two Ronaldos, nor even Maradona and Pele; or Gordon Banks with Gigi Buffon. Different times, different frame works, but all same, great players.


I believe you cannot make any fair judgement without establishing certain facts as your guide lines. Hence Gary Neville's answer to a tweet on monday night football some weeks ago on the subject was faulty. He sided with Cristiano Ronaldo as being better than Ronaldo from Brazil. I sympathize with the fact that Football like most sports tends to be averse to logic, and you have to give the audience zingers or sound bites. The winner takes all position in this case is misleading and a gross misrepresentation.
If Soccer fans really want  to quibble on the potency of the two, then it's better to say both forwards will ineveitably be defined as one of the best from their respective generations, even fifty years from now. How both men measure when it comes to goalscoring or technical ability, is an excersise that amounts to hair-splitting, because they both carry that out with superlative proficiency.


Ronaldo from Brazil would remain one of the best central strkers the world has seen. At his prime(incredulously between 20 -25 before the effects of injuries blighted him)He possessed an explosive burst of acceleration, and flattened defenders in his path to goal, like a hurricane. He conjured a devastating aura when in motion.  And when it came to putting the ball in the net, he was artistic with the way he bambozooled the keeper. Injuries robbed us witnessing more from this amazing centre forward.  Ronaldo from Portugal has taken goal scoring to another level;  aided by his single-minded pursuit, and tactical advancement , he has become a symbol of the shift from the orthodox definition of a striker. He is an extra ordinary goalscoring forward. He is so good at putting the ball in the net, he has a blank cheque to turn-up any where space affords him, unannounced, and his team mates oblige him, while his markers cannot find him. This sort of freedom to operate unqualified is uparalled. Cristiano Ronaldo and  Lionel Messi, the contemporary scoring greats  have used it to record breaking effect.  The false Number nine is an incredible phenomenon, and in many ways designed for a new  generation of goal scorers, as soccer coaches harness the idea into ther coaching manuals 


Here is food for thought for those not convinced this debate is a dead end. Ronaldo's senior career spanned 18 seasons( 1993 -2011 ). He played 384 league games for seven clubs, scoring 280 goals.  He played 97 games for Brazil, scoring 62 goals,in a twelve year period ( 1994 - 2006) .  Cristiano Ronaldo,  so far, has 102 caps for Portugal in less than ten years, scoring 32 goals. Ronaldo has a better scoring ratio,  even with fewer  games played. The calibre of team mates in the Brazilian national team ( selecao) invariably has a bearing on that.  Cristaino Ronaldo on the other hand may have more international games, thanks to his fitness, but his goal scoring ratio is not helped by the fact that portugal does not enjoy the glut of quality players like Brazil produce. He has 350 league games, and scored 227  in just under ten seasons,  so far, with three clubs. In other words, minutes spent on the pitch, and quality of team mates is another key factor.Poignantly, Christiano Ronaldo , in ten years, has played two-thirds of Ronaldo's entire career games, and he is still only 28 years old. if Ronaldo played till he was 35, albeit punctuated with injuries, be the judge. That  renders the debate academic. Let's just savour the brilliance of our great players, rather than mitigate their peculiar achievements in differing circumstances. Their careers are short, and their duration at the pinnacle even shorter, to waste its glory on needless debates


I'll tell you what, LIverpool and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez shoved my critique of him right back in my mouth, and i am humble enough to take it back. I have no remorse for the criticism i gave him following his well publicized race case with Patrice Evra. But I have to eat my heart out, and confess he is the best striker in the premiership ( no comparisons ) this season. He has delivered on the pitch, and banished the inconsistencies and play acting, to be a scorching individual and team player.  it would be a shame if he does not scoop players' and sports writers awards for this season. This bloke has not only sorted  out his attitude on the pitch, he has sorted out defenders with his blisstering form, consisting of high energy play, skils of sorcery, but also goals to make him the leading scorer in the league. I hand it to him, Luis Suarez has been in incredible form. A bombshell with the ball at his feet. A real handful to play against. Did i get it right this time ?

Read my Next blog, out Sunday, April 7th on PAULO DI CANIO.