"It is my opinion. That is why I don't mind if people get upset. It is my decision. It is what I want." -- Cristiano Ronaldo
Finally, the boy has allowed himself to be made the villain. I'm not proud of his actions, but I am proud of him for finally allowing himself to be the focal point of Manchester United fan scorn and he is more than deserving of it. It's one thing to want out, it's another to disrespect your club and its fans and their achievements.
Ronaldo's first taste of manhood was after the World Cup when an entire country (falsely) blamed him for their (not) unfair exit. While he defiantly stood up to those boos and produced, he knew he had an adoring fanbase standing behind him in red.
He has now repaid that support by spitting in our faces. Make no mistake about that. He has not once mentioned the fans. David Beckham, Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy let us know they appreciated all we had done for them. They thanked us and allowed us to remember them fondly. But Ronaldo has finally allowed himself to be the target for our hatred. Ramon Calderon is an idiot with the personality of a sleazy salesmen, but it takes two to tango. Calderon couldn't find a dance partner with Kaka or Steven Gerrard, but he's found one in Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo was more than willing to sit back and let Calderon and Real Madrid, his supposed love, take the brunt of attacks, but he's finally opened himself up. Sure he won't admit it's all about money, it's really about his dream. Sure, tell me another. He knew the same club was interested last year, but he signed an extension for more money with United. I'm sure when Inter or Milan or Chelsea or Barcelona make a bigger offer in a few years, it will have been his dream to play there too.
It's no surprise he would take the time to drag this story out throughout the Euros, after all he did the same in the Champions League Final. Why not try to overshadow the two biggest events of the year? After all isn't this sport all about him? Isn't everyone just clinging to his every word? Aren't we all just waiting for another missed penalty? (I'll admit I was rooting for Germany over Portugal, but wanted to see the Portugese tie and go to penalties, so Ronaldo could choke again. Mean? Yes. Bitter? Yes. Fair? Definitely.)
Right now the talk should be of Germany, Turkey, Russia, Holland, Spain and Italy. Instead he has taken the time to inject himself into the talk since he bombed out of the tournament. Just as he took the time to turn talk about his missed penalties in the semis and finals of the Champions League into talk about his future and his contract (BTW, I'm still waiting for the promised goal against Barca -- maybe he took a shot after they left the pitch. It's one thing not to score, it's another to not show up. Messi didn't score against United, but he clearly showed up). If you can't deliver on the field at least you can deliver in the headlines.
I'm not so much upset at his wanting to leave -- anyone that wants to leave their employer shouldn't be forced to stay. Contract or not, sports aren't designed to be slavery; although one does wonder about his sudden desire to leave after just signing an extension last year. My main issue is his enormous and growing ego that demands the spotlight even when his play didn't earn it.
Edwin Van der Sar was the hero of the CL finals, David Villa and Bastien Schweinsteiger are the stand-outs in the Euros and each has had this primadonna overshadow them. He says he's just answering the press and public's questions about his future, but the cynic in me states he's made these announcements at times to deflect questions about his ability to deliver in big matches. He's managed to turn questions into him wilting under pressure into questions about him moving on to Real Madrid...again.
His actions have proven he is undeserving of a place at both Manchester United and Real Madrid, the two biggest clubs in the world. Maybe one day he will realize what he had and what he could've done to keep it. Maybe one day he'll prize respect above money and fame and then he'll finally stop being a boy and become a man.