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He's an instant hit
Sat, May 15, 2010
The New Paper

By Gary Lim

IT'S THE first league match of the season.

A right-footed shot goes to the bottom left corner of goal and a split second later, the net bulges.

Thirty-five minutes into his first Spanish La Liga season and Cristiano Ronaldo was already well on his way to winning the fans over.

Everywhere he goes, the goals flow.

Deportivo La Coruna were his first victims in the Spanish La Liga and many more have suffered since.

The 2008 European Footballer of the Year and Fifa World Player of the Year has 26 goals from just 28 league appearances. Real Madrid still have an outside chance of winning the La Liga title, as they head into the final round of games a point behind leaders Barcelona.

His influence at the club has prompted some to say Real Madrid are not the same side without him.

But Ronaldo said: "I don't think one team should depend on just one player, just because Madrid are a big club and one of the best players in the world is there.

"Maybe some people say 'yes' but I just say Madrid are a fantastic team - not just because Cristiano played or didn't play. That's not good. I think Madrid with or without me is good."

That he is a superstar among stars shouldn't come as a surprise. Throughout his career, he has always stood out from the rest.

You can see it in the way he plays - taking on defenders time and again, embarrassing them with his cheeky flicks, and opting for the extravagant shot over a normal finish.

He said: "I appreciate many players and love to watch many players, but I don't copy anyone.

"I don't like to copy because I think everyone has to be himself to do what he thinks is good."

And Ronaldo is good.

In his final three seasons with Manchester United, he scored 102 goals for club and country.

History

If he keeps going at this rate, he will own a special place in the history of the game.

He said: "I have said a few times that I want to be part of the football legends of history. This is why my path is long - of course I have to beat players, score goals, assist, and do my best all the time in training and games.

"I would like to think that when I finish my career the people will look to me and say Cristiano is a great example - he is a fantastic player, brilliant player, and an example for the kids.

"I want to be a legend in football.

"That is why I do my best all the time. I try to assist and score and train."

Ronaldo stresses that his team always comes before him but he also feels that individual awards are important to a player's confidence, too.

He said: "It is always important to win individual awards, of course.

"The priority is always the collective - the team is the most important. But the individual awards give you something special. You feel proud of yourself if you win the Ballon d'Or or the World Player or the Golden Boot.

"It's always nice - you can enjoy, show your family - nephews, nieces - because it's something special.

"I have won some of these awards but I want to win more - I think I have a long way to go."

Yet, being famous has its price.

He is the player opposition fans love to hate, simply because he is the most dangerous player on the field.

But the boos and evil chants don't bother him one bit. If anything, it only spurs him to try harder.

He said: "This is not a problem for me. In England, in most stadiums, they boo when I am playing away.

"But the people are starting to learn that when they boo at me, they give me more confidence and power.

"I have to say that if in Spain, the people want to start this, then no problem."

npsports@sph.com.sg

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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