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Thursday, 25 September 2008

Players we love to hate: Cristiano Ronaldo

Some players are hated because they play for our fiercest rivals, others are hated because of their constant moaning and cheating, while others are detested purely because of who they are and what they've done. Cristiano Ronaldo unfortunately falls into all three categories!

The Manchester United ace is back in action following surgery on a troublesome ankle so who better to kick-off this new feature than the man who turned a whole nation against him with just one wink and likened himself to a slave because Manchester United wouldn't let him join Real Madrid in the summer.

Make no doubts about it, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players in the world and has lived up to the expectations that the famous number seven shirt at Old Trafford brings with it. He has it all. He's got the blinding pace, he can score from anywhere with any part of his anatomy, he can turn defenders inside out all day long, defend, pass and his free-kick technique is simply unrivalled. He's won everything he could possibly wish for with Manchester United and the worst thing is, is that at just 23, we still haven't seen the best of him. No wonder he's hated! However, for all of his glorious skills and attributes, the Portuguese ace has left opposition fans around the world enraged with his desire to go down at the slightest touch.

Ronaldo was just 18 when he made his debut for Manchester United and soon got a reputation for going down quicker than a nymphomaniac deep sea diver. He would terrorise defenders with his blistering pace, but as soon as somebody tried to tackle him he'd go down like a sack of spuds. Some fans even claimed that all you needed to do was breathe on Ronaldo and he'd fall over. His constant appeals for free-kicks soon became extremely boring to the spectators so he opted to take his skills into the penalty box for extra rewards.

Furious Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate was spitting feathers after Ronaldo conned the referee into giving a penalty at the Riverside in 2006. Boro lost the game 2-1 and Southgate was quoted after the final whistle saying: "Ronaldo is a cheat, simple as that. How many times are we going to see it? The lad's got a history of doing this. Our goalkeeper has done everything to get out of the way and yet the lad's gone down. Once more. For me, it's never a penalty. I don't know what you can do about it, that's for people better qualified than me."

There was also the controversial penalty he won at White Hart Lane a few years back when he went in between two Tottenham players and the ref adjudged that he had been clipped when replays clearly showed that contact was minimal to non-existent.

However, if I was to document all of his misdemeanours I'd be here until Christmas. So let's fast forward to the incident that saw the winker become public enemy number one in England over night. Portugal were playing England at the World Cup in Germany 2006 when Ronaldo's United colleague Wayne Rooney became tangled up with Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho. It looked as though the ref was going to give Rooney a yellow card for accidentally stamping on Carvalho until Ronaldo sprinted up to the referee seemingly urging the ref to send Rooney off. Rooney lost his head and pushed his teammate away only for the referee to show him the red card. And Ronaldo inflamed the situation further by being caught on camera winking to his Portuguese colleagues on the bench.

It was like David Beckham ala 1998 all over again as the English media went all out in pursuit of Ronaldo. The media printed dartboards with Ronaldo's face on them, websites were created specifically for people to vent their spleen about the Portuguese ace and even some United fans were appalled by his actions. There were fears that the youngster didn't want to return to Old Trafford due to the level of hatred that was being aimed at him and many believed that Rooney was going to batter him if he ever did return. However, Ferguson, knowing how important Ronaldo was to his future plans, did everything in his power to persuade the youngster to comeback to United and prove everyone wrong, just like Beckham did. And boy has he repaid Fergie's faith in him.

He scored 23 goals in the 2006-07 season to guide United to the Premiership title and a semi-final spot in the Champions League and went even better last season by scoring a phenomenal 42 times, helping United retain the Premiership title and clinching the club's third Champions League trophy.

However, he let himself down again and infuriated the United fans again in the summer by refusing to commit his future to the club and allowing Manchester United and Real Madrid to become involved in a public battle for his services. Ferguson persuaded him to stay at the club once again, even though Ronaldo agreed with Sepp Blatter that he was being treated like a slave, and he was greeted back by the Old Trafford faithful like a legendary war hero when he came on as a substitute against Villarreal in the Champions League last week.

To be fair to him, he has tried to stay on his feet a lot more in the past two seasons and has flourished under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. However, there are plenty more reasons to hate Ronaldo, bar the diving and cheating. For one he's earning more cash in a week than most will earn in a decade, he has the pick of nearly any girl on the planet and is doing something which we all wish we could do - no not sleeping with a string of top heavy lovelies - play football at the highest level.

Ronaldo is one of those players that the opposition fans love to hate but the sad fact is is that if he joined your club you would almost certainly be singing his name from the rooftops and getting his name on the back of your shirt. Still, while he's at United the rest of the Premiership can unite in their hatred of him!

* Calling all football fans. Why is Cristiano Ronaldo the player you hate the most? Is it because he is so blessed with skill that it's frustrating to see him cheat to get an advantage? Is it jealously because he is simply so good or is it because he plays for Manchester United? Has Ronaldo won you over in recent seasons by curbing his urge to dive so easily? What other players would you like to see mentioned in the Players we love to Hate feature? We'd love to hear from you.

COMMENTS

Zach

John Terry. Damn I hate Him

Jin

He's got skills but it is sad to see him dive/cheat so often. The recent MU vs Chelsea game where all Lampard did was get close to Ronaldo and without any contact made, Ronaldo fell down. Got a free kick from that. Wonder the Oscars will consider his acting skils?

Docta

i just think his over rated...

Jack

Cristiano Ronaldo is unbelivable cheater. He has football skills as well as acting. Man Utd treats like a returning hero. What a shame.

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