Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut for the Portuguese national team in 2003, before him; Portugal qualified to 3 of the previous 16 World Cup tournaments and to 3 of the previous 11 Euro Championships. Since Cristiano’s debut however, Portugal have qualified to 3 out of 3 World Cup tournaments and 3 out of 3 Euro Championships. If that wasn’t quite a big enough impact, Cristiano Ronaldo is also the player with the most goals in the history of Portugal, and the player with the second most caps (just behind Figo). The current Portugal squad has total of 122 goals with the national team, 52 of those were scored by one man, Cristiano Ronaldo. If you step back a bit and look at Cristiano’s performances on the international stage, while comparing it with other world class players and their national teams, you would see that Cristiano’s contributions to Portugal have often been undermined, underrated, and mis-communicated.
To put it into perspective, Cristiano has scored more goals in the European championships and qualifiers than any other player in history. Cristiano seems to excel more in official tournaments rather than friendlies, as just 11 of his 52 goals for Portugal have been scored in friendlies. That adds up to 41 goals scored in official matches, making him the 3rd European player with most official goals with his national team (just behind Roy Kean’s 49 goals and Klose’s 48 goals). It also puts him in the list of the top 15 all-time goal scorers when it comes to non-friendly national team matches. While “top 15” may seem like an unimpressive feat (especially for a player like Cristiano), the fact that there are only 2 European players besides him demonstrates how hard it is to be on that list. Cristiano Ronaldo is also in the top 10 European goal scorers in the national team category, and he needs just a hatrick to become the 7th on the that prestigious list.
However, with all of these achievements and recognition that Cristiano has made and earned with Portugal, some ‘pundits’ still seem to find it pretty easy to label him an underachiever with his national team. Cristiano may have failed to reach the glimmering heights of his club career with Portugal, but that certainly can’t be attributed to his lack of effort, rather it can (and should) be directed to the sub-standard quality of national team mates, at least as a team. Nevertheless, Cristiano can still use tomorrow’s match to gear up for the crucial month of April that awaits him with Real Madrid. It is no secret that Cristiano has not been at his best (or anywhere near it) in 2015 so far, yet if 2015 follows the structures of years past, the months of April and May should witness an explosion from Cristiano that will hopefully see him regain his lethal instinct and killer hunger for goals and glory that will be the driving force behind Ancelotti’s men coming back from their recent slump.