5-5! Journey to the Top: What’s Next for Cristiano Ronaldo?

January 7th, 2013: Lionel Messi was up there on the podium, delivering his acceptance speech as he was chosen as the best player in the world for the fourth consecutive year. Cristiano Ronaldo, the player who had the world at his feet four years earlier, could only clap from the front row with a ‘Pan Am smile’ smeared across his face.

The Ballon d’Or count read 4-1. Certainly, there was no catching the magical Argentine, now. He was at the peak of his game, winning trophies, racking goals. Cristiano, as good as he was, was no match for the ‘best in the world’. It was decided, Lionel Messi was set to go down in the history books as the most successful player of the era. The world also applauded Ronaldo, but only for pushing Messi to be the best, for keeping him on his toes, even though he was always the distant second.

December 8th, 2017: Now it was Cristiano Ronaldo up there on the podium, claiming his fifth Ballon d’Or, equalling Lionel Messi’s ‘untouchable’ record. It was 5-5 now. “When I was a kid, I never expected to win a single Ballon d’Or, so just imagine having five… Ever since I won the first, I’ve worked hard and fought to better myself,” he said to Real Madrid TV. Ambition.

These two players have now defined an entire decade of football. Lionel Messi with his unmatched wizardry, and Cristiano Ronaldo with his hard work and ruthlessness. We have seen the boy from Madeira evolve from a traditional winger with a bag of tricks, to a goalscoring machine. He has always been a manager’s dream, thanks to his ability to adapt and the intelligence to read the game. And after all of this, after every trophy he’s won, he still wants more; he still wants to go the extra mile.

Real Madrid Legends
Florentino Pérez with Real Madrid Legends: Cristiano Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Fabio Cannavaro, Kaká, Ronaldo Nazário, Michael Owen & Raúl González Blanco.


2017/18 hasn’t started particularly well for the Portuguese, especially in La Liga. He has managed to score just a couple of goals in 10 league games, adding to the misery of Madrid. Lionel Messi, on the other hand, has once again emerged as the messiah for Barcelona. He is currently sitting at the top of the goalscorer’s list and is the favourite for getting his hands on the Pichichi at the end of the season.

Messi’s ability to drop deep and control the game is one of the biggest advantages he has over the Real Madrid number 7. Cristiano is all about instinct and precision. But even Cristiano Ronaldo won’t stand the test of time and I guess, we can already see that in his game, the latency between his mind and body. The few microseconds which make all the difference in the world.

A new generation of footballers is emerging. Neymar, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, and quite a few others are capable of finally ending the dominance of the two greats. Cristiano Ronaldo knows it, too. He won’t only be competing with his favourite rival from now on, a host of talents are fighting to dethrone him next year.

But if there is one thing we’ve learnt over the years, it’s to never make the mistake of counting Cristiano Ronaldo out. He has a knack for beating the odds, and who knows, we might see him on the podium, once again, a year from now, with a big grin on his face with the sixth Ballon d’Or in his hands.

Post Credits: Sushan Chakraborty

Facebook Handle: Sushan Chakraborty

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