Having been stretchered off the pitch at 26th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo was sobbing incessantly. He knew that the most important game of his life was the one in which he would have no say on the pitch.
Ronaldo the Goal scorer takes center stage in Stade De France
Whereas the Portugal contingent were shell-shocked by the series of events that had unfolded before them, the player himself let the tears flow. One suspects that his helplessness may have been the driving force behind it. But what Ronaldo couldn’t manage with his shooting boots, he did it on the sidelines.
The heartbreak, the tears, the Joy
When Dimitri Payet rammed in his right leg, Ronaldo went crashing down clutching the victim of the strong challenge. He knew in his heart that his time was up as went to the sidelines. Having come twice after having received medical attention, he unwrapped the captain’s armband and put it on Nani’s shoulders. Though the moth was the center of attention on social media, the tears were bound to leave you disheartened if you were a Portugal supporter and gloomy if you’re a neutral. As he latched the armband on Nani’s shoulders, Ronaldo, amid his pool of sorrow must’ve been wishing his teammate to reprise the role that he enacted when he had left Old Trafford in 2009. His teammate obliged and turned back the clock. Taking on more responsibility and attacking with more purpose going forward, the new Valencia signing was the bellwether for the likes of Quaresma, Guerreira and Sanches. Profusely crying while being stretchered off, the finalist tag would have been scant consolation for a man of Ronaldo’s ambition. His departure did peg the visitors back,but none obliged to yield to French attack.
The lively Moussa Sissoko looked threatening. So did Griezmann. So did Payet. But what they lacked was the insurmountable grit of the Portuguese. Having weathered the attacks in the first half. The coach and Captain shared a sigh of relief. As the seconds passed and the French grew weary, so did Ronaldo’s influence. If there were any lingering doubts about his commitment to the team till the final, one had to see his frantic reactions at the touchline. Shouting encouragements, talking to the players coming in for throw ins, Ronaldo was only lacking a leg to be making any more difference. What he couldn’t achieve on the pitch, he achieved off it. Sure, there would be talk of the young players, the overall unshakable belief of the team and their unparalleled desire to win that saw them through. But nobody can undermine the influence Ronaldo had on the players. Akin to his coaxing of Joao Moutinho during the penalty shootout against Poland, he thoroughly backed the man to replace the lively Renato Sanches. As revealed by the goalscorer of the final, Eder recalled,” He said to me you would score a goal”. The untamed desire to be the absolute best and a Champion is the trait that had a significant impact on the striker.
Antics remind of Sir Alex Ferguson
While the legendary Scot was a manager second to none in the history books, Sir Alex Ferguson was a master at mind games and touchline tactics. Ronaldo’s gesture of pointing to the watch reminded the audience of the Ferguson era gone by. The atmosphere in the final 10 minutes were reminiscent of the Man Utd legend’s reign. Matching his boss, Ronaldo was at his hysterical best in the extra time.While Fernando Santos was throwing his arms at every decision going the other way, Ronaldo was cajoling, chiding, exhorting his teammates standing adjacently to the trainer. His shrugging of Raphael Guerreiro while the young defender had just come off the pitch following treatment to an injury will be well remembered. Maybe, this might be a glimpse of what the future may hold for Ronaldo. Following the footsteps of Zidane would not be much of a surprise considering how involved he was on Sunday.
While Messi is arguably more naturally talented than him, it’s his passion on sunday that showed just why Portuguese has a trophy with the national team in his cabinet.