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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Cristiano's Circus

So I watched a bit of Critiano Ronaldo’s ridiculous unveiling at the Bernabéu last night. Wow.

80,000 fans turned up apparently. 90,000 if you believe the Spanish press (which I don’t), the most that have ever turned up to watch a player hold up a scarf and do a couple of keepie-uppies (75,000 turned up to see Diego Maradona unveiled at Napoli in 1984).

I don’t really know what to make of it. Part of me thinks it’s absolutely ridiculous. 80,000 people? Really? Sure, there were some great footballing figures past and present there – Eusebio, Alfredo Di Stefano (God, he’s looking old), and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo, but do they not have better things to be doing on a Monday afternoon in Madrid? Not if Florentino Pérez has anything to do with it.

But then part of me buys into it. I love the spectacle as much as the game sometimes. I love players with personality. I love ridiculous celebrations. I love the whole sideshow that comes with the game. I was always an Eric Cantona man as opposed to an Alan Shearer man.

Ronaldo’s unveiling was over the top in so many ways, but would Cristiano have it any other way? The whole stadium was covered in green carpet, they had a stage. There were photographers scrambling on top of other photographers to get the best shot of Ronaldo in his new number 9 jersey, worn before by greats including Di Stefano, Hugo Sanchez and Ronaldo (the other one – that’s going to get confusing).

The scene with the little boy was priceless. Ronaldo drops the ball while doing some tricks, and this little boy, about 6 years old, steals his ball. Ronaldo bends down, gives the boy kiss on the head, signs the ball (that pen came out of nowhere – great improvisation!), and the crowd goes wild! Not only a great footballer, but a charming gentleman too. You couldn’t write this stuff (no, wait. They definitely did).

So will Real actually manage to win anything next season? Cristiano seems to think they should “just win the Champions League next year, then just build up gradually”. Always very modest, young Cristiano.

Well they’d better win something, considering their squad has cost €512.5 million. And they probably will, if their €94 wonder boy has anything to do with it. In the words of Cristiano himself (come on, in your thickest Madeira accent) “uno, dos, tres - ¡Hala Madrid!"

Cristiano Ronaldo's unveiling at the Bernabéu


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