I don’t like Cristiano Ronaldo. He stands for almost everything I genuinely dislike in people. He comes across as arrogant, narcissistic, conceited, vain, egocentric and dare I say a sophomaniac. Where Muhammad Ali was incredibly ingenious, witty and astute in his wording when making public statements, the manner in which the Portuguese superstar at times appears to try to emulate the Champ’s persona, he fails at having the geniality Ali had and instead comes across as insecure and delusional.
I remember like yesterday when a tanned, slick haired Ronaldo uttered the words, “Un, dos, tres…Hala Madrid” in front of the desperate 90,000 Madrid loyals, who eagerly were awaiting for their knight in (white) shining armor to combat Leo Messi’s FC Barcelona reign in Spain. It was a summer to forget. A summer where, despite having won LaLiga in the most dominant fashion, Florentino Perez, who managed to make a comeback to the scene by winning the elections, immediately stole the spotlight from Barça by announcing the three jaw-dropping galactico signings of Ronaldo, Benzema and Kaka.
“That’s alright...they’re just desperate. It’s a classic Floren reaction to our success. Nothing to worry about. Plus we just signed Ibra to play along side Leo! We’re good…” I thought at the time. However, in the back of my mind, not too distant and unsuccessfully suppressed memories of the Gaspart era started to haunt me.
Thankfully, we were good. Really good! Barça continued to dominate Spain, Europe and the rest of the world under Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, over in the nation’s capital things initially weren’t going as planned. While Cristiano had an underwhelming LaLiga debut season, a frustrated and failed Pellegrini experiment was pushed to the side to make way for an ambitious Barça-hating Jose Mourinho.
It was the start of something…perfect. Mou managed something, which I thought was impossible. He was able to stir up more hatred towards Real Madrid than ever before. The verbal, mental and physical clashes between our two giant clubs have been well documented since then.
However, more impactful was the long-term affect Mou’s tactics had on the rivalry between our two clubs by turning Ronaldo into the poster child of everything Cules despise of Madrid. And rather than staying clear from the enhanced stereotypes and narratives pushed by the Catalan media, instead Ronaldo appeared to embrace this villain role.
Where before El Clasico for Cules symbolized the cultural confrontation of good versus evil, the political revolutionaries vs. the oppressors, it now additionally became almost a perpetual battle between the two current greatest football players on the planet. Something we got to enjoy for nearly a decade.
I began to love to hate him. For me, he was a necessary evil. Ronaldo made the fight for LaLiga, Champions League trophies, and El Clasico all the more meaningful and significant. Having our Messi top him was nearly as important as having our beloved Barça beat Real Madrid in every which way possible.
All that is now over, and although it won’t be hard to find a new focal point to aim our abhorrence towards, it will take one incredibly special, rare, fantastic and once in a lifetime talent to stir up similar emotions in me as Cristiano Ronaldo did. Which is why I for one not only respect but also will miss him dearly and thank him for fulfilling his role as the evil antihero to perfection.