Real Madrid star Ronaldo lives in the shadow of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi at times, but should be offered the same veneration.
Cristiano Ronaldo picked up a La Liga winner’s medal in 2012. Last year he also became the first player in history to score against every team in the Spanish top flight in a single season, as well as score 40 or more in two consecutive campaigns.
On the face of it, the Portuguese, who moved to Real Madrid from Manchester United for a record-breaking £80 million (98 million euros, $128 million) in 2009 and is one of the football’s highest-paid players, has a strong claim to be the world’s best.
But once again “CR7″ has had to play second fiddle to Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, whose mesmerising skills on Monday made him the first man to win four Ballons d’Or titles.
While the little Argentinian carries on re-writing the record books after a monumental, and unprecedented, 91 goals in a calendar year, Ronaldo could be forgiven for feeling hard done by.
Were it not for Messi’s brilliance, Ronaldo — who was world footballer of the year before his rival’s winning streak began — could easily have five FIFA crowns to his name.
Instead, the 27-year-old from Madeira awoke on Tuesday to a blizzard of praise for his Barca counterpart — and the realisation that he is now 4-1 down in their personal duel.
Ronaldo was happy to play down the outcome in Zurich, insisting that he did not feel overshadowed and there was no ill-feeling between him and Messi.
“I am calm about it — it’s not a matter of life and death. Life goes on. I don’t feel frustrated,” he added.
So too, however, does a Liga contest which may almost be over for Real this season, as they trail a Messi-inspired Barcelona side by 16 points, with the Catalan giants having won 17 out of 18 games to date.
Ronaldo, though, will soon have the perfect chance to show off his game-changing skills when Real meet his old side Manchester United in the Champions League as he looks to add a second European title to the one he won with United five seasons ago.
Messi won one at Ronaldo’s expense in 2009 and another in 2011 as Barca overcame United on both occasions, though he did not feature in the 2006 win over Arsenal.
Regarding their respective Ballon d’Or tallies, Ronaldo says he and Messi have no problems with each other.
“There is no rivalry as to who wins more. Of course we are here to win but there’s no rivalry,” he insisted Tuesday, though before the Zurich denouement he had admitted that he would vote for himself if it were possible.
Daily Telegraph football writer Henry Winter, a member of the voting panel, said on Tuesday that he plumped for Ronaldo, hailing his “collection of virtuoso displays” that helped Real to the Spanish title and the semi-finals of the Champions League.
“Week after week, Ronaldo rose to the challenge, creating goals out of nothing, using his remarkable blend of skill and athleticism, scoring 46 times in Real’s title triumph,” Winter wrote on telegraph.co.uk.
“It was a phenomenal personal campaign and deserved some individual recognition,” he added of the Portugal captain, who also took a mediocre national side to the Euro 2012 semi-finals, where they were beaten by eventual champions Spain.
Real teammate Xabi Alonso said the Portuguese talisman has already moved on from the disappointment.
“He’s already thinking ahead to Celta Vigo, our next opponents in the Spanish Cup. I think Cristiano feels supported by the club and the club is very satisfied with him,” he added.
Even so, Ronaldo has yet to sign a new contract at the Bernabeu extending beyond his current deal which expires in mid-2015 and as such his future – and what he has to do to win the Ballon d’Or – hangs in the air.
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