Cristiano Ronaldo now has scored 800 goals in his career and his dominance in international football as well as in the UEFA Champions League cement him as one of the greatest the world has ever seen.
“Reeved in Red. Restored to this great gallery of the game. A walking work of art. Vintage, beyond valuation, beyond forgery or imitation.” These lines by renowned commentator Peter Drury during Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United summed up the emotion of the majority of football fans. For many, the modern era in football has been defined by the exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Both these superstars have elevated the game to such a level that genius and magic are two terms that have been used ad nauseum.
During the game against Arsenal, Manchester United was boosted by the brilliance of Ronaldo yet again. In his 1095th match in his career, which encapsulates all of his playing careers for Sporting CP, United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Ronaldo scored his 800th and 801st goals. When one looks at it in cricketing parlance, he has surpassed Muttiah Muralitharan’s Test tally of 800 wickets in Test cricket. Test cricket and football have no comparison, but the effort and skill that is needed to take wickets and score goals are immense.
Our minds are already set on the next game, there’s no time to celebrate! Today’s win was very important to get back on track, but there’s still a long road to go until we reach our destination… Congrats to all my teammates, great spirit tonight! ???? pic.twitter.com/XUFsOOGlws— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) December 2, 2021
Lionel Messi may have won plenty of Ballon D’Or trophies. One must yet again stress that Messi’s genius is in no way questioned. Messi is great and IS a genius. But, when it comes to the goal-scoring abilities of Cristiano Ronaldo, he is second to none. Consider these statistics which have been highlighted plenty of times.
Ronaldo, along with Messi, is one of the players who has scored over 100 goals in the UEFA Champions League. The football superstar has 140 goals, 17 clear of Lionel Messi. It is no wonder that Ronaldo is designated as Mr. Champions League. Ronaldo holds the record for the most number of goals in a single season which was 15.
But, it is his exploits in the international arena where Ronaldo is on a different league altogether. He has 115 goals in international football, which is six better than Iran’s Ali Daei who held it for close to two decades, Messi is far behind in that regard. In the Euro championships, Ronaldo is the only player in the history of Europe to have over 10 goals in the competition. To add more weight, Ronaldo won his first international tournament five years before Messi finally broke the Copa America jinx.
Ronaldo’s brilliance was forged in Manchester United under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. But, he shone through in his spell with Real Madrid. For nine years, Ronaldo was the ultimate king in world football. A total of 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid has already earned him the title of Real Madrid’s greatest-ever. Even with his spell in Juventus, he crossed 100 goals. Thus, he now has over 100 goals for three separate clubs which is simply staggering.
In addition to scoring over 100 goals for Portugal in international football, Ronaldo’s goal ratio of one goal every 1.36 games make him the ultimate player of the generation. Be it La Liga, Serie A, Premier League, and the UEFA Champions League, he has dominated and won titles at each and every interval.
Ronaldo’s philosophy is probably on the lines of MS Dhoni in dragging the game deep. His ability to score last grasp winners is legendary, with Messi not achieving this level of consistency. Dhoni likes to take the game deep until the last ball. For Ronaldo, the last second in a football game counts.
That would make him immortal in the pantheon of sports. There have been several players in the history of the game who have pushed the gold standard of excellence high. Sir Don Bradman, Michael Jordan, Colin Meads and Pele have been legendary for their exploits on the football field.
Looking at the way how Ronaldo is going, and with his age, 1000 goals seem difficult. But, looking at the way how he is going on even at 35, you cannot count it out. Perhaps, in 2-3 years, if his fitness holds, Ronaldo can scale the summit of 1000 goals. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the litmus test on how Ronaldo pushes his career ahead. Even if he does not get to 1000, there can be no doubt that his legendary status as the greatest will remain intact with the passage of time.