The rate at which Cristiano Ronaldo has gone from strength to strength, one could be forgiven for forgetting that the Portugal and Real Madrid talisman is actually 31 years old; turning 32 next February.
If there’s one thing that the forward is very good at, it’s being able to adapt every facet of his game to always give his best out on the pitch; he started his career out as a pure left-winger, before transitioning into an inverted left-winger before eventually beginning to fill out at center-forward.
His sheer dedication and athleticism have ensured that his storied career has been marked by remarkable highs and triumphs - from winning the Champions League thrice with United and Real Madrid, the European Championships with Portugal and most recently, winning his 4th Ballon d’Or.
However, he has had his fair share of agonising and gut-wrenching moments as well and instances that he would gladly like to erase from an otherwise exemplary footballing career.
Here, we take a look at 5 of Ronaldo’s worst ever moments on the field:
#5 His apparent annoyance at his teammates scoring
While you can write off a lot of Ronaldo’s reactions on the pitch for having to do with the heat of the moment, we simply cannot ignore that on numerous occasions the Portuguese has looked mightily annoyed when one of his Real Madrid teammates have put the ball into the back of the net.
In a 2-0 win against Levante in March 2015, Ronaldo saw his goal-bound effort cleared off the line, only for Gareth Bale to then knock it in; he did not seem overly-pleased about that.
That could have been considered as a one-off, but hardly a month later, in April 2015, he did the same thing once again when Alvaro Arbeloa denied him an easy tap-in. His reaction was made to look even worse by the fact that it was Arbeloa’s first league goal in almost 5 years.
Ronaldo is as fiercely competitive as they come and while it’s okay to be annoyed or angered once in a while, it definitely paints you in a bad light when you behave in a way that goes against the spirit of what is essentially a team game.
#4 Ronaldo’s red card against Cordoba in January 2015
In Ronaldo’s club footballing career spanning Sporting CP, Manchester United and Real Madrid, he has been shown the red card an incredible 9 times. The forward has always had a few anger issues, but his red card against Cordoba is arguably the worst of the lot, showing us the nasty side of the Portugal captain.
He received a straight red against Cordoba with only a few minutes left in the game for kicking out at Edimar; what arguably makes it worse is that he could have had another just a moment earlier when he appeared to punch Ivan Crespo on the side of the head.
While Ronaldo does often wear his heart on his sleeve, this was uncharacteristic behaviour even for him. While there was a similar incident in 2007 when he head-butted Portsmouth’s Richard Hughes and received a straight red on that occasion too, he claimed he’d learned his lesson and would never be provoked on the field again.
#3 ‘The Wink’
In what can only be described as an act of blatant disrespect, Ronaldo fell out with a large proportion of Premier League fans for his actions during England’s quarterfinal clash with Portugal during the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Rooney’s apparent stamp on Ricardo Carvalho saw Ronaldo have a spirited conversation with the referee and then wink towards his bench as Rooney received a red and was sent off.
Being Manchester United teammates at the time, this wasn’t received well by many of the fans, and after he compounded England’s misery by scoring the winning penalty in the subsequent shootout, he was given some rough treatment by fans of other Premier League sides as well.
It was absolutely unnecessary for Ronaldo to wink cheekily in that manner or vociferously complain to the referee; Rooney was being sent off either way. All this seemed to achieve for the forward was earn him a bad reputation.
#2 5-0 loss to Barcelona at the Camp Nou in 2010
Ronaldo, still only 26 at the time, was a season in to his Real Madrid career and was expected to give the Los Blancos the edge against their arch-rivals Barcelona in the El Clasico.
What followed can only be described as a demolition of the highest calibre by Pep Guardiola’s men as they ran out 5-0 winners and Ronaldo was left on the sidelines, a mere spectator to the Blaugrana’s finely tuned orchestra.
What made this even more impressive was the fact that Real were unbeaten before this and Jose Mourinho had experienced the best start of any coach in Real’s history; the 5-0 loss would go on to be the worst he had ever experienced in his career at that point.
It was a match that was expected to decide who was the best in the world, Ronaldo or Messi. Though neither player scored, Messi’s impervious passing, sublime dribbles and assuredness on the ball far outshone anything Ronaldo contributed to the Clasico.
A man who prided himself on being better than his competitors in every single aspect, this particular loss would have hurt more than most others.
#1 Euro 2004 finals loss to Greece
It was Ronaldo’s first ever International tournament spiced up even further by the fact that it took place on home soil.
The home nation were highly favoured to lift their first ever competitive trophy, but it started out sourly as they lost their opening game to Greece; a game that was memorable as it involved Ronaldo scoring his first-ever goal for the national side. He would go on to score in the semifinals against the Netherlands as Portugal set up another clash with Greece in the finals, a chance to avenge their loss earlier in the tournament.
It was, however, to end in heartache for Ronaldo as his side lost out to Greece, which set the tone for a national team career that saw him achieve very little; before the remarkable triumph over France in this year’s tournament of course.