Is Pizarro right about ‘Big Head’ Ronaldo?

April 4, 2008

Ronaldo jumps a challenge

AS Roma’s Chilean midfielder David Pizarro has taken Cristiano Ronaldo’s stepovers, fancy flicks and double dummies personally.

Pizarro was booked for kicking Ronaldo after the Manchester United player performed some of his repertoire during Tuesday’s Champions League match. The Roma man then came out with some stinging criticism.

“There is no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo has quality, but it is also true that he’s a big head,” Pizarro said after United’s 2-0 win. “He could leave out some of the fancy tricks. It’s necessary to respect the opponent. You can bet that we’ll have something to show him in the return.”
It is not really surprising that a South American has taken exception to Ronaldo’s tricks. All sorts of things are tolerated in this part of the world, but the one big no-no is to deliberately make your opponent look stupid.
During United’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa the previous Saturday, the Brazilian television commentary team were remarking on how disciplined the Villa players remained as Ronaldo effectively taunted them with his footwork. Such behaviour in Brazil, they said, could end in a brawl or worse.
Last year, there was huge debate after Cruzeiro forward Kerlon performed his famous “Seal dribble” — in which he nonchalantly flicks the ball up and bounces it on his head while still running — in a derby against Atletico Mineiro. Atletico defender Coelho ended the run with a crunching tackle, earning himself a red card and sparking a brawl.
Even more controversial was Efrain Viafara’s cheeky ball control during Sport Ancash’s 2-1 win over Universitario in Peru.

With two minutes to go, Viafara performed a sitting motion and brought the ball under control with his buttocks. He was knocked to the ground by enraged Universitario players, a fight ensued, Viafara was chased down the touchline, trouble spread to the stands and the match was abandoned. It all led to this irresistible headline at The Offside: “Efrain Viafara starts a riot with his bum”
Like Ronaldo, both Kerlon and Viafara said it was their way of playing and that no offence was intended and Graham Fisher, writing at Soccerlens this week, was one blogger to broadly support that view:

“Football is an entertainment industry. It relies on people wanting to watch it. It is these fantastic players such as Ronaldo that bring in the crowds, bring in the money and encourage youngsters to ‘have a go’ at doing what they do.”

Their victims, of course, did not see it that way.
Brazil coach Dunga has suggested that the acid test is whether such players are prepared to perform their tricks with their side losing 3-0 or facing imminent elimination from a major competition. If they are not, suggests Dunga, then they are just showboating.

PHOTO: AS Roma’s Philippe Mexes challenges Ronaldo during their defeat by United at the Olympic stadium in Rome, April 1, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi  


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As much as I hate and abhor Man-U, there’s really nothing wrong with showboating. But it MUST be effective showboating i.e. to complete a pass, produce a good dummy etc.

Ronaldinho is one of the best examples of someone who does effective showboating. He doesn’t do tricks just to entertain or clown around. He does them purposefully.

Once upon a time, c.ronaldo did it foolishly, illiciting lots of teasing about him falling over his 1001 sidesteps. These days, after maturing as a player, he does it effectively.

Posted by Five Times | Report as abusive

Frankly i think Pizarro is a bit bitter that he cant do those tricks. Even if Ronaldo is trying to humilate the defenders (which I don’t actually think he is) then it is part of the psycholigical battle and opponents must accept it. By moaning about it, Ronaldo is winning.

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

All Pizarro has effectively done is marked his own card for the return fixture.

If he even touches Ronaldo he’ll have a nice suspension coming his way as he has made clear his intentions are to teach him a lesson.

Also, he’s probably narked Ronaldo, thus giving him even more motivation to give Roma a good pasting.

All in all, it was not a very smart move on Pizarro’s part.

Posted by Ian | Report as abusive

Pizarro is just jeliouse of ronaldos skill and so are the have to be BLIND not to see ronaldos talent..the guys not just skillfull his also entertaining.. he has great skill and whoever says he doesnt obviously doesnt know what football is..

Posted by Claudia | Report as abusive

Ronaldo gets under my skin too, but I suppose that’s what makes him great. Yes, I’d prefer it if he wheeled away in boyish delight after scoring yet another goal (a bit like Shearer) rather than nonchanantly shrug his shoulders like he couldn’t give a toss. But then Ronaldo is blazing a trail right now and who’s to stop him? Certainly not Pizarro…

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

As a Roma fan, and slightly biased, I have to admit that Pizarro’s comments were not necessary and I think were made on the heat of the moment when bitter disappointment was still very much in him.

Ultimately I think Ronaldo is as much talented as he is big headed, but being big headed is no crime and Pizarro had no right to critizise him on a personal level. But make no mistake, he’s no saint and am sure english fans will remember the little eye-blink following Rooney’s red card that infuriated the all nation at the last WC

Truth is we got bashed by a better side, no point denying, but I am sure Pizarro will have regret his words by now.

Posted by Emi | Report as abusive

this nonsense has to stop Ronaldo is NOT ‘big headed’ he is class and that is simply the way he plays ALL the time its nothing new and therefore is not showboating

Posted by jprince | Report as abusive

When Ronaldo did those moves the game was far from being resolved, so I don’t consider it showboating. Can you imagine if basketball players in the NBA were offended by fancy tricks? There would be brawls every game.

Posted by MG | Report as abusive

The whole butt dirbbling thing is a little overboard but i don’t see anything wrong wit the “seal dribble” or Ronaldo’s dribbling. If opposing teams dont wanna see this, play some defense and stop them. And the fact that all these Brazilian leagues and other South American leagues start fights and riots over opposing players showing off is one of the reasons that the quality of soccer in these leagues will never ever amount to that of the European leagues. Lets play some soccer and stop fighting and beating up refs

Posted by Mario | Report as abusive

The question lies in intent. Given his other actions, I find it very difficult to believe Ronaldo’s intentions are as pure as simply “entertaining the crowd”. Then again, it’s nearly impossible to judge another’s intent, and it’s also nearly impossible to believe anything you hear coming from an athlete’s mouth on the subject. All a wild guess.

And while Graham Fischer’s argument is true, it’s mostly true for the fans. Players aren’t playing to entertain necessarily, they play to win. If it’s effective, as the first commenter said, fine – more than fine, actually. But otherwise, it’s a bit ostentatious and it shouldn’t need an opposing player to bring it up, it should be the coach of the fancypants.

Posted by chris | Report as abusive

I am baffled by pizarro’s comments – what’s wrong with c ronaldo’s way of playing? it just a natural talents in exibition. Ronaldo keep up the good work and viva man utd.

Posted by alhaji sajor | Report as abusive

every sport has it’s own player’s conduct book. showboating is a no no in soccer, as is running down your opponents in NFL….that’s why the n.e. patriots are so reviled..because they do not respect their opponents…..

Posted by ad | Report as abusive

i think players should play the damn game if they hate tricks why the hell r they there on the pitch then? they get enough money so whats the problem? big babies. ronaldo is the greatest his tricks are part of his game, the players should be told to deal with it professionaly, not like kids starting fights

Posted by footballfan | Report as abusive

Maybe it comes down to where you see football on the sport—–entertainment axis. If the Champions League is purely entertainment these days then this sort of thing is welcome, as it makes him a hero to many and a villain to some, and the entertainment industry thrives on that. If it’s still primarily a sport it’s more problematic.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

I am a huge Roma fan (also like Man U)…and have to admit, Roma was outplayed and outclassed. Mr. Pizarro, I presume, was only trying to set the stage for the next encounter, hopeing that his words will de-stabalize the “Rocket-Man”. But as a Roma fan, I must say that I would rather see “showboating” than dirty play. The way a player of the quality of Ronaldo got marked and hit, was a bit disappointing to see. I wish we could play our game and not worry so much about Rocket-Man. Forca Roma!

Posted by Charles Dawn | Report as abusive

please dont compare the EPL with the NFL. Pizzaro is just a sore looser. Behaving like a baby , trying to intimidate C. Ronaldo . No way you will stop Rocket-Man.

Posted by sturla | Report as abusive

People its fotball..if you get upset because you can’t take the ball away from a player you shouldn’t be playing…its kids stuff even talking about ronaldo plays and playing with the people its a part of the game..

Posted by Sergio | Report as abusive

If I understand Pizzaro correctly, UEFA and FIFA need to pass a law limiting the number of stepovers, dummies and flicks world class players are allowed to make so that mediocre players can look good and hang on to their egos.
Why not take it a step further and declare adventurous 4-3-3 formations illegal, punish teams able to keep possession for “too long” and disallow spectacular goals scored by virtue of, yes, you guessed it, cheeky back-heels?

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

I think Ronaldo is fabulously gifted but Pizzaro is at least attempting to instigate some sort of furious Roma response (they need to do anything they can, right?). He’s playing a psychological game that probably won;t work!

I like to see footballers at least thinking now and again – trying to affect the game –

I stumbled across an interesting article if you fellas are interested:

Posted by Paolo | Report as abusive

Ronaldo is entertaining thats what fans want to see fact. I find it hard to believe some people would waste time complaining about this. Maybe its because italian football is boring and this was a big shock to the system. Personally i love these type of players as they can just about do anything with a football, fans pay the money to be entertained thats what it is all about surely.

Posted by Thomas mercer | Report as abusive

i think ronaldo has amazing talent and is a fantastic player. Pizzaro only sed wht he did cz he cudn’t tke the fact that they lost and were outstaged and outshone by a better team with better players and quality. The triks and step overs that ronaldo does is what the fans want to see. there has to be something that u cn tke away 4rm a game and admire so why not ronaldo’s style of play. And about gettin im bk in the second leg at Old trafford i’d like to c if e cn catch im or even try 2 stop im!!!!

Posted by Man u fan | Report as abusive

Like it or not, CR’s showboating is a big part of his success and totally in keeping with the killer instinct of his club and his manager. You really can’t separate the two. So, if you believe that football is about winning, you really have to admire the bravado of Ronaldo. As such, I think that he is a much better candidate for future United captain than Rooney (recently suggested by Capello for England). Rooney is too romantic. He still flies off the handle. Ronaldo has the steely mind and knows how to both win and rub it in.

Posted by Best Player | Report as abusive

Pizarro has jus proven what a retard he actually is.
Basically what he is saying;C.Ronaldo is arrogant because his skills are way better then ours and they defeated us once more.
Very logical Mr Pizarro,it’s shamefull that players with his mentality play in Europe.
What does he expect?? Everytime someone passes another player people should start fighting?
Maybe thats custom in Chile or South America for that matter but here in Europe we are civilized Mr Pizzaro!
Maybe it’s time for you to move back so you can blame player for being better then you.

Posted by Enzo Pieroni | Report as abusive