|Nguyen Thu Huong|
By Nguyen Thu Huong
June 17, 2006. It may seem like an eternity ago (18 years and a few months to be exact), but this was the date Cristiano Ronaldo made his first stamp on a World Cup.
There were 10 minutes to go in Portugal’s match against Iran at The Waldstadion, now known as the Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany, when the team in red were awarded a penalty.
They were already one up thanks to a Deco goal on 63 minutes, but this would surely seal the deal and give Portugal three points in their opening game.
Up stepped Ronaldo who sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to score his first goal in a World Cup. Who would have guessed the then 21-year-old would go on to not only become arguably the greatest of all time, but set an unimaginable record.
In the early hours of Friday morning, he again slotted home for the penalty spot to open the scoring against Ghana, making him the first ever male footballer to score in five, yes five, consecutive World Cups.
His record-breaking goal, which I doubt will be his last in Qatar, comes hot-on-the-heels of his controversial ‘tell-all’ interview.
And, although hard to believe, while the striker is currently without a club, having been given the sack by Manchester United.
These pressures are far from ideal preparation for the world's biggest tournament. Perhaps more than he has ever experienced in his entire career.
But in the midst of all the drama and furore, is anyone really that surprised that Ronaldo gave us all a timely reminder that’s his still a class act?
|Ronaldo celebrates his goal against Ghana. AFP Photo|
His goal in the 65th minute completely changed the game. It is a proof to show how experienced and how still valuable he is still to the team. Love or hate him, no one can deny that he is standing strong against the storm.
We couldn’t ignore the fact that aged 37, Portugal’s captain is not in his prime anymore. He couldn’t take advantage of some clear opportunities, especially the one-to-one situation with Ghana’s goalkeeper. He had a significant influence on the game, but at some specific moments rather than during the whole game. He can still play at top level, but not all the time.
Ronaldo’s mark on the 974 stadium last Friday night keeps fuelling rumours and discussion about where his next stage will be after the World Cup. With Ronaldo’s strong desire for the game, personally I will be not surprised if this is still a title contender club where his can contribute at some game-changing points.
Maybe Chelsea, who showed some interest in signing Ronaldo in the past might take a point. They are in need of a better finisher.
And what about Manchester City, club he was so close to joining on his return to England? Surely not, but if United fans feel irked at their former number seven right now, their blood will boil if he’s ever seen in light blue.
I think over the next few weeks Ronaldo will want to do his best to not only put himself in the shop window, but also lead his country to their first ever World Cup success.
If that unlikely feat is achieved, maybe the time has come for this footballing GOAT to be put out to grass. They'll be no better high to finish on. VNS