Just going to come out and say it, I am an unashamed, unadulterated admirer of Cristiano Ronaldo. As a football fan I remember his debut season well at Manchester United. The step overs, the pouting, the diving, the pouting was all commented on ad nauseam but what I remember most was a young man willing to get stuck in and work his socks off for the team. One game in particular stood out for me. United vs. Everton boxing day 2003. It was billed as some sort of clash between the two überwonder kids of the Premier League at the time. The honest, hardworking, running knuckle that was Rooney versus the precious, waspish, fancy foreigner. It was clear where some people wanted this narrative to go. But my recollection is Ronaldo bossed it. Rooney resorted to thuggery in the second half to try and stop Ronaldo as did other Everton players but it did not stop Ronaldo. Get up and go at them again, harder. Ronaldo was fantastic. The work that man has put in to get to where he is is phenomenal. That's something to be admired. I know United fans like to paint the picture of Ronaldo arriving at United as vital to his development as a global football mega star but I don't believe that is so. I honestly think wherever he went at age 17 he would have worked just as hard to ensure that he got to where he is today. Playing for Real Madrid, winning the league and European Cup, scoring bag fulls of goals (600 goals in 855 games), breaking records and challenging himself to go further and be better than everyone else. Now, with Zidane's example, who's to say he won't one day challenge himself to be a league and Champion's League winning coach? Many players have had natural abilities like Ronaldo, not many have had the single minded drive to use them and improve them to reach the very, very top of their profession as Ronaldo has. Well done. that man!
As a Portuguese fan, there was a scene in Euro 2016 during the QF with Poland, where the Portuguese players were discussing who should take penalties. Ronaldo went after one of his teammates (João Moutinho) and basically told him: "Come on, do it. If you miss, you miss. Fuck it! But at least try!" It was interesting, because you don't usually see that sort of internal stuff. And it showed a different side to CR7 and what he brings to the table as a teammate. He's driven and working all the time and he wants to do all the things and he wants to win all the time and gets angry at mistakes (at his own as well). But he also played out of position in the Portugal squad and though our defensive set-up must have been super frustrating for him, he did as he was told. He also accepted the adjustments Zidane made this year to his role at Real Madrid. He's not quite the caricature he's portrayed as in the media.
Also, how smart did Zidane handle all of this? He didn't try to bully CR7 into accepting a reduced playing schedule right away. He waited for the right moment to introduce the idea. That he's Zidane probably helped. There's a cute video of Ronaldo trying and failing to out-dribble Zidane in training. There's also the story of how Zidane and Ronaldo were doing free kicks together and Zidane won. Zidane just seems canny about leveraging his own standing and skills, without being obnoxious about it. Ronaldo is one of the greatest, surely, but the remarkable thing is how he has changed along the way, being arguably four players in one.
At 20, he was one of the world's best wingers, all step-overs and "elásticos" and out to humiliate his opponent.
At 25, he was the best of the new style of inside-forwards/inverted wingers (arguably originating with Thierry Henry), coming in onto his stronger foot and scoring.
At 28, he had turned more and more into a Batistuta-style complete forward, able to score from every angle and doing so with spectacular regularity.
And now, at 32, he has morphed into Pippo Inzaghi on steroids (as a metaphor, obviously), conserving his strength, participating little in general play but scoring the decisive goals.
As with Roger Federer, my advice to all fans is keep enjoying watching him. You are watching the greatest most complete player ever. Yes, Maradona had more "sublime" skill and Messi probably does too BUT he is a complete and utter freak that can score from anywhere and anytime. And he has the brains to adapt his game to game to suit his not so young body. Insanely good; no wonder Sir Alex Ferguson was loathe to let him go. He knew what he had.