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Will Ronaldo A or B dominate the Euros?
So now we’ve seen him, the media-acclaimed superstar-elect of Euro 2008, Mr Cristiano Ronaldo.
He didn’t tear up any trees but played pretty well in Portugal’s opening 2-0 win over Turkey. He was denied a goal by a fingertip save that touched a first-half free kick on to a post, made several positive runs and had a hand in the second goal. He did not dominate the game but was a constant lively threat. There is almost certainly more to come, in bigger games, but are you a fan or a doubter?
Which of these below most accurately apply to the Portugal winger? You may tick more than one box.
Ronaldo A: A showpony more interested in trickery, hair cream and mirrors than playing the right ball at the right time. A diver who cons referees into giving him decisions that other players with less nimble feet would never get.
Skins Derby County fullbacks for fun but goes missing when international defenders give him their undivided attention in games that really matter. Nerve fails him from the penalty spot under pressure. An opportunist happy to play Manchester United against Real Madrid to inflate his own value.
Ronaldo B: The greatest ball artist the game has ever seen, a player whose mesmerising skill delights neutrals the world over and who should be cherished as an extraordinary talent. A player who has now learned to use his wonderful individual gifts to the benefit of his team mates, who now knows when to dribble and when to pass and is the player all opponents fear.
A remarkable all-round footballer who not only has great feet but is prepared to work hard, tackle back and just happens to be one of the best headers of the ball in the game. Somebody who can score more than 40 goals in one season of Premier League and Champions League football – while still nominally a winger – something not even George Best ever managed. A player able to take a penalty miss in his stride and focus on the next opportunity.
A worthy wearer of his country’s armband, not to mention devastatingly handsome. Personally, I take a large dose of Ronaldo B with a little too much of the theatrical legacy of Ronaldo A, but the next three weeks might change my mind and maybe on June 29 we might all be raising a glass to Ronaldo C.
PHOTO: Portugal’s Gomes hands the captain’s armband to team mate Ronaldo during their Group A Euro 2008 soccer match against Turkey. June 8 REUTERS/Denis Balibouse