Usually the statues for great athletes are saved following their careers. Some are just too big to wait, and that is the case when it comes to Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is a man with statues and airports named after him.
He is one of the most famous athletes in the world. Youth players grow up trying to emulate him all around the world. They will try his famous walk up to a free kick or his trade mark step overs. He is a hero in the soccer world, and he still has a long way to go, at least in his mind.
Recently in a Spanish interview, he said his body is like a 23-year-old player, and he’ll have plenty of years left in his career. His health is his secret to long-term success. His ability to stay on the field and avoid injuries that keep him out of matches allow him to continue at a high level on the field.
He has won every trophy and accolade available to a footballer. Except for one!
One spot in his trophy case remains empty. It’s waiting to be filled by a World Cup trophy. As his desire to play for many more years show, he is a determined footballer. Winning this trophy certainly matters to him, and he needs it to cement his place in the argument of one of the best players ever.
Last time we saw Cristiano on the international stage, he raised the European trophy but from the sideline due to injury. He stood next to his Portuguese manager Fernando Santos.
Ronaldo has benefitted at the international level with Santos-- a man who has interestingly earned his engineering degrees. They both have turned Portugal into a disciplined and organized team that is extremely difficult to beat and can win games with Ronaldo’s talent. This playing formula has suited Portugal and probably more importantly Ronaldo because of his tactical versatility and goal scoring ability.
For Portugal to make a run to lift the cup, they will need Ronaldo at his best. But he will have to rely on his teammates. He has won everything in his soccer career, but the question remains if we will ever see him lift a World Cup trophy.
The world will be watching to find out. And typically, Ronaldo thrives in those moments. I think the big question isn’t about how he will perform, but rather if the Portuguese team can keep the consistency they have found in recent years. If they can, we just may get to see Ronaldo fill his trophy case once again.