by Dennis Odera
Prior to the World Cup, there was a lot of fuss about two players: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Other players like Frank Ribery and Neymar da Silva had stirred and shaken the football waters but these two have caused hurricanes for different reasons.
For the first time in years, there were questions raised as to whether Hurricane Messi was the best player in the world. Do not get me wrong, there have always been critics who have been quick to posit that, unless La Pulga replicates for Argentina the brilliance he exhibits for Barcelona, he will never be able to join the Maradona and Pele ilk. This year though, the doubts were, TURNT UP a couple of levels. After having an ‘indifferent’ season riddled with injuries (he scored 41 goals in an indifferent season), there were claims that Messi had been knocked off the pedestal; that there was now a new cock in charge of the roost.
If you are to describe the emotions a Manchester United fan goes through at the mention of Cristiano Ronaldo, you have to have watched the late Dr. Maya Angelou perform a poem. When Dr. Angelou took centre stage, you just had to stop what you were doing and watch her paint pictures with her words. She had that ability of making you not just walk in her shoes but experience what she did. She had the ability of playing every string of emotion in your body; including those you had no idea existed. Like a surfer, there were times during her performance you paddled against the tide, there were times you watched and waited for a wave and just when your patience was about to give in, you got an opportunity to ride a wave and the whole experience would leave you craving more. That is Ronaldo for you from a Red Devil’s perspective.
When Ronaldo took to the Old Trafford turf for the first time in 2003, expectations were high. He was a diamond in the rough when Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill decided to pursue and land his signature and although his first season at the Theatre of Dreams was mostly about the rough associated with a newly mined diamond, there were glimpses of the gem that lay underneath. After his first season, the Manchester jury was still out. The diamond was then refined in the Carrington gym and training ground and after a few years was able to take Manchester United to the top of the wave; Champions Legue winners and a Ballon d’Or to boot. When everyone thought Ronaldo had reached his peak, he was shipped off to Madrid where after a bit of fine tuning, started playing those notes that one never knew existed. The ‘finished product’ continued to lay claim to the throne.
Heading to the World Cup, a lot of focus was on which king would carry their club successes onto the international level. Which cock would be able to lead their brood (nation) to the Promised Land (World Cup glory)?
The focus started way before J-lo and Pitbull reminded the world of how Shakira had mesmerized millions at the opening ceremony of the South African World Cup in 2010. Two cocks remained in the fight and the whole roost waited in anticipation to see who would emerge victorious. Many dreamed about and anticipated a titanic battle.
It was not to be. Ronaldo arrived at the World Cup unfit and unable to inspire his team past the Group Stages.
In some wars, the departure of one king does not signal the end; it only offers other kings the opportunity to stake a claim to the vacant throne. Neymar da Silva, James Rodriguez, Mathieu Valbuena, Toni Kroos, Arjen Robben among others have all laid that claim.
Still however, there is no putting Messi down. His moments are few and far between, but they are still powerful enough to invoke that royal edict. If you come at the King, you best not miss.