It has recently occurred to me just how alike two very familiar sports stars are.
I thought the Euros was a fantastic tournament, full of exciting games games for the most part and won by one of the greatest teams ever. I admire collective achievement more than individual achievement. As such, I am full of admiration for Spain, a team with 8 or 9 truly world class players who seem to achieve more because they complement each other's natural ability and work ethic. I believe this is why they will go down in history as one of the greatest two teams ever to play the game.
The other member of that elite duet is, by general consensus, the Brazilian World Cup winning side of 1970. The fact that Pele, the game's greatest ambassador, and a player deemed by many to be the greatest that ever played the game, played such a major part in that success may make that Brazilian team's memory more special than that of Del Bosque's current Spanish team, which has no stand out player because they have so many outstanding players who contribute consistently to their success.
Either way, there is no room in this Spanish side of selfish players with big egos. When I use those words, only one player springs into my mind. Cristiano Ronaldo.
A player referred to by many as the world's best, I see Ronaldo as having one major step to take in his sporting development before he can be considered great. His journey, under the influence of the two most successful managers of this era, from the fragile yet gifted young winger Alex Ferguson bought from Sporting Lisbon to the much more complete, hugely powerful specimen we see today under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, has been very exciting to watch. His physical attributes, ability to score goals and create goals for others, aerial capability and work rate off the ball make him a joy to watch. That is, unless he come up against the world's best defenders and best defensive units, when it really matters. Yes he looked impressive in the wins over Holland and the Czech Republic, but he wasn't faced by the most effective defensive units on show at the championships in those games.
When it really mattered in the semi final against Spain, Ronaldo had chances to give Portugal a lead they may have held on to. Not many, and not chances that were tap ins by any stretch of the imagination, but they were opportunities for him to take his profile and achievements to the next level and he bottled it. In addition, when Spain were on the ropes and were there for the taking, Portugal's skipper disappeared when they needed him most. Highly critical? Absolutely. Harsh? Maybe, but you'll have to work hard to convince me otherwise. I think he's a flat track bully - perhaps the best we've ever seen when sticking the knife in on teams that have shipped a couple of goals and are praying for the final whistle.
And so to that likeness I referred to.
There's a highly talented young fella who has just reached his first Wimbledon final and who will carry the hopes of a nation (or 4 nations - delete as appropriate) when he steps onto Centre Court on Sunday afternoon.
Hugely talented, and capable of being the world's best? Devastating when putting good but not great opposition to the sword? Moody, sulky, and in need of a kick up the backside every now and then?
Check, check and check.
I'll be more than happy to belt out "Flower of Scotland" if Andy Murray can take that final step into the realms of greatness on Sunday. After all, my ginger hair would suggest I've more in common with Murray than I do with Ronaldo.
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