Why I voted for Ronaldo - Craig Foster

Craig Foster - the Australian judge for the Ballon d'Or - explains why he voted for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo with the EURO 2016 trophy. Source: Getty Images

Trying to compare Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi through statistics is, increasingly, futile these days. They have pushed each other, and I have little doubt their personal battle has been a factor in the history busting exploits of them both, albeit far more so in the case of Ronaldo, to greater heights and along the way dominated European club competitions. 

But it is the country title that Ronaldo won this year that, principally, separates him from the wondrous Leo for 2016, in my view. 

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And writing this ahead of the announcement, one that we as judges are not appraised of, I fully expect Ronaldo to take home his fourth Ballon d’Or, just one less than his arch nemesis Messi. 

Ronaldo’s blatant and naked personal ambition can be off putting for many, me included, as he makes perfectly clear how much it means to him to be anointed and acknowledged as the world’s best. The cameras will even catch him with a scowl should Messi again be chosen, his disgust clear for the world to see. 

Still, with all his charity work and hugely generous donations to sick kids, hospitals and the like, it is clear under the overt ambition lies a human being with a heart and social conscience. 

And clearly one of history’s greatest players. 

This year, as much as I love and admire Leo and prefer him as a player, Ronaldo’s success at both club and international level cannot be overlooked. Winning Real Madrid’s eleventh Champions League two months before Portugal’s only major international trophy, the European Championships, with 48 goals in 52 matches thus far for club and country, is simply extraordinary. 

At the same time, Messi came very close to equalling the feat at the Copa America, but his missed penalty in a key moment showed that he is, after all, human. 

Ronaldo broke numerous records at EURO 2016. Most appearances in the tournament, first player to score in four consecutive finals and equalled the great (but fallen) Michel Platini’s total goals in the competition. 

Ronaldo has been Portugal captain since 2008 and contributed in France as silver boot, however I thought his leadership was important to the triumph as he goaded his teammates on from the bench. Ironically, his personal contribution was slightly less, however his leadership was critical to the win. 

With Ronaldo, any gestures in front of the camera can be interpreted as staged, however I thought his encouragement late in the final from the sideline showed a captain genuinely urging his team to dig deeper, and his comments in the semi final when urging Joao Moutinho to take a penalty were leadership at its most pure.

 

You must take one, he said, paraphrasing. Don’t worry, it is in God’s hands now. Just do your best for your country. 

Great words, great deeds, and a great player. 

Not quite Lionel Messi, and still a Ballon d’Or behind the superhuman Argentine, but clearly the best in 2016.


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3 min read
Published 13 December 2016 at 8:15am
By Craig Foster