A great football career in acknowledgments
Thank you for being the greatest goal scorer in my lifetime. Zidane may have had more grace and compsure in the nineties, but Ronaldo had the finish. 247 goals in 343 league games from a man who was plagued by knee injuries from the age of 20 onwards. 62 international goals for Brazil. 47 in 49 in a season for Barcelona. Leading World Cup scorer of all time. World Player of the Year three times. Ballon D’Or winner twice. Serie A Player of the Decade. The list could go on.
Thank you for staying at the highest stage. PSV. Barcelona. Inter Milan. Real Madrid. AC Milan. Pele scored more goals than you but played only in Brazil and USA. Gerd Muller scored more regularly than you, but only in one league. You ended it all at Corinthians, but this was not a final payoff and Hurrah. This was not a waltz in the Middle East or Middle Class America. This was coming home. This was the full circle. This was helping a side to win the League, and they won the double.
Thank you for not making me feel guilty about going to KFC, loping around on a hangover like a yeti. Because being overweight does not affect the ability to score, it seems. You were large, we got that. We got the tabloid photos of you looking big, paraded like you were Kerry Katona or Lorraine Kelly. And yet that made it better. It made us realise that you had more talent in your little finger than our celebrity culture ever dares to produce. And you effing well liked a burger too. Yes, fries. Yes of course I want to make it large. And yes no one even bothered to think hat you may actually be ill (Ronaldo has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism).
Thank you for not making me feel like a pervert, even though I often fall asleep with an orange in my mouth and a dressing gown cord round my neck. You got involved, and I like that in you (not a euphemism). You went out looking for sex and you found it. And when it turned out that three prostitutes were transvestites, you simply offered them 600 smackers to leave him alone. But mainly thanks for describing your vasectomy as “closing the factory”. Heroic stuff.
Thank you for the single greatest performance in a match in my lifetime, despite how good Luke Chambers was on Sunday. To knock Manchester United out of the Champions League and still get a standing ovation is one hell of a feat. To score three goals out of absolutely nothing merely highlights Ronaldo’s efficiencies. He didn’t link play or win the ball that often in the air. He simply destroyed one of Europe’s best defences in three blinks of the eye. Ferdinand has never had it so bad.
Thankyou for that smile. It wasn’t quite Dwight Yorke, this much I concede, but it was an expression that conveyed sheer joy for your job. Professional football is a production in which you are incredibly fortunate to be an actor, and yet many forget that in the mechanical steamroller of money, success and merchandise. You played because you loved scoring goals, and your toothy grin told us as much.
Thank you for introducing the fake stepover. It was like you felt like you didn’t even need to do stepovers because your sheer reputation and football intelligence would see you through. My favourite ever goal. So simple and yet so intricate. The ball doesn’t move and yet your eyes are still dizzy. And just when you think it has been left to late, the ball is in the back of the net:
Thank you for being my hero. I don’t care if it is slushy, we have just had Valentine’s Day. Stuart Pearce made me love football for the passion, heart and desire. You made me love it for its simplicity, its beauty and its grace.