Real Madrid’s Cristiano: A True Great

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After watching the Portuguese lift the UEFA EURO 2016 trophy on a glorious July Sunday night at the Stade France yesterday, there is no doubt, or there should be no doubt at least to the whole world that Cristiano Ronaldo is a star par-excellence. Despite failing to play for much of the game due to a knee injury sustained in the eighth minute from a Payet challenge, the Portuguese captain and talisman ended the day with tears of joy as his teammates delivered for him a title which had so evaded a nation even in the eras of two other greats, Eusebio and Figo.

When the showdown began and Portugal drew their first game with the ‘so called’ tournament minnows Iceland, the star man was at the receiving end of vast criticism from fans and foes alike. Many claimed he was being a shadow of his usual self, something that was not made better by him lambasting Iceland’s approach to the game. When he went on to miss a penalty in the nil-all draw with Austria many believed it spelt an end to Portugal’s hopes of a major trophy. This was far from the truth. Ronaldo had an excellent display in the match versus Hungary where he provided an assist for Nani’s equaliser and scored two himself, both times coming from behind to draw with a determined Hungarian side. In this man of the match performance, Portugal managed to qualify for the Round of 16 as one of the best third placed teams.

No one imagined they would achieve the feat they did yesterday. But Ronaldo was back! It was his shot’s rebound that was turned in by Quaresma to sweep aside Luka Modric’s Croatia in the round of 16. Portugal still had no win in regulation time in the tournament after four games, and no one imagined, but the Galactico and his team marched on in the ‘live today and fight tomorrow’ fashion. Ronaldo and company played against a strong Poland side in the quarter final and though he missed some chances, Portugal managed to dispatch the Polish in a comfortable shoot-out. They marched on to meet Gareth Bale’s Wales in the semi finals, a match which saw Ronaldo open the scoring and then turn provider to Nani for the second goal which saw Wales beaten- this was another man of the match performance by CR7 and it saw Portugal win their first and last game within 90 minutes in the tournament. They cleared hurdle after hurdle but it seemed a few people believed in this team.

Even as the critics had a lot to say about Ronaldo and Portugal, the decorated star managed three goals and three assists as well as two man of the match accolades in a showing many felt was not his best. Portugal played more like a team and showed resilience though a lot of critics would have wanted more from Ronaldo. But as football is a team sport, one way or the other, through this player and that player, his dream of winning an international title lived on. The 10 July final was not his dream match as he succumbed to a knee injury which saw him subbed halfway through the first half. The visibly dejected Ronaldo broke down to tears as he was stretchered off the pitch. It was a sight which reminded most of how he was once reduced to tears as a 19 year old in 2004 when Portugal lost to Greece in the Euro final at home soil. To many, it seemed Portugal’s story had been written, they would loose again, and the all important international glory had evaded Ronaldo.

Portugal instead fought on and did not panick despite loosing their main man. He is said to have delivered a massive halftime speech to his colleagues that made them the more determined, to win it for the nation, for themselves and for him. His exploits up and down the touchline during the extra time proved a thing or two about him, that is, he strongly believed his team would win and is a fighter who could not give up.He was confident and sought to deliver from off the pitch what he could not deliver on the pitch that night. And as the final whistle went, there was one thing clear. Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, Real Madrid’s top goal scorer of all time was champion with Portugal- at last. He had delivererd silverware at international level, something craved by many superstars and of which most reach retirement without achieving. If you are into sports betting you may want to now set your bets on who will the 2016 Balon D’or. Some Euro Palace Online Casino websites allow this betting option.They also offer EuroPalace casino progressive games for the onling betting enthusiast.

Real Madrid team mate and man of the match for the final, Pepe dedicated the title to his national team captain as did Eder, the match winner. And again the hero was reduced to tears, tears of bliss this time. And as he walked up the stands of Stade de France with a limp, to receive his medal and to lift the trophy, history was written. Cristiano Ronaldo seems to win wherever he plays and it is a blessing that he plays for Real Madrid now. Like all other former super stars like Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini, he has won a major trophy for both clubs and his country. His position has certainly shot up in the European Football Hall of Fame. The Los Blancos hero is the best player to ever emerge from Europe and yes, he is arguably the greatest player in football history.

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