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Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Portugal hanging in search of personal glory

Mark Pitman
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
2.37K   //    29 Jun 2017, 17:48 IST
KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 28:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal is seen after exchanging a pennant prior to the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Semi-Final between Portugal and Chile at Kazan Arena on June 28, 2017 in Kazan, Russia.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo was left to watch as Portugal lost to Chile

He is no stranger to individual awards despite football being a team game, but in Kazan, on Wednesday night, Cristiano Ronaldo swapped team success for personal headlines and left with neither. In fact, his desire to score the winning penalty for Portugal against Chile in the semi-final of the FIFA Confederations Cup was so misjudged, he made no impact at all.

Roll back to 28th May 2016 and to the San Siro Stadium in Milan. Real Madrid had been taken to penalties by city rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final. A contest between two individuals as opposed to two teams, penalties are a test of nerve, with no place to hide.

Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up for the decisive spot-kick and made no mistake to ensure that it would be the final kick of the match. Real Madrid lifted the trophy, and Ronaldo was the hero.

However, things were very different on Wednesday night, and it was Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo that made headlines as he saved Portugal's opening three penalties. It was an incredible feat by the Manchester City shot-stopper, and his heroics meant that Ronaldo would not even get to take a penalty as the contest came to a close.

Ronaldo's pursuance of glory had left him on the fringes, his only consolation being that his name was not immediately connected to defeat.

If the Portuguese captain had opted for an earlier penalty, then Portugal probably would have been in a much better position. However, this would have potentially made a man other than Ronaldo the hero of the night.

Such high-profile fixtures are the Real Madrid star's stage, he takes the glory, not his club, or his country. Brand CR7 does not take a back seat, even if it is for the greater good. Glory for Ronaldo means little if he does not personally orchestrate it.

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 28:  Claudio Bravo of Chile saves Portugal second penatly during the penalty shoot out during the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 Semi-Final between Portugal and Chile at Kazan Arena on June 28, 2017 in Kazan, Russia.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was the penalty hero on Wednesday night

It had been a frustrating night for Ronaldo before Chile celebrated the victory. His creative attacking play had opened up opportunities for others to squander, and the only way Portugal looked like scoring was if Ronaldo could have somehow found himself on the end of his own inch-perfect service.

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There is no doubt that he remains the driving force behind the national team, and for his few faults, he does take pride in representing his country.

Portugal triumphed at UEFA EURO 2016 through his influence all the way to the final, and while injury meant his impact on the final itself would be minimal on the pitch, he kicked every ball off it as he patrolled the touchline, desperate for international success.

Club honours are one thing, and he and nemesis Lionel Messi have racked-up plenty during their respective careers, but a lack of international success has been a stick to beat the pair of them with.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal is seen during the award ceremony after their team's 1-0 win in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ronaldo achieved international success with Portugal at UEFA EURO 2016

Ronaldo has reached the very top through an unwavering desire to be the best of the best. His personal dedication to his craft has seen him eclipse all those that challenge him, and only the diminutive genius that is Lionel Messi has denied him from ruling the football world without a rival.

The two are good for each other, and their rivalry makes this a blessed time in the history of the game. Both players may now feel that their powers are waning with age, but their experience more than compensates.

But it is the personal greed for glory that has dented Ronaldo in this latest chapter of his career, and it seems the FIFA Confederations Cup is a trophy that will now forever elude him.

It is unlikely that Ronaldo will lose too much sleep over that fact, his newly born twins will inevitably assist him in that respect, but it is a clear chink in his armour that his desire for personal success at any expense takes preference.

This is of course not the first time that Ronaldo has shown this side of his nature. His frustration over his Real Madrid team-mates failing to assist him in his pursuance of headlines as been apparent in the past.

His anger over Lionel Messi scoring the winning goal at the Santiago Bernabeu in the latest El Clasico was more about his nemesis taking the back page headlines, rather than Madrid's defeat to their biggest rivals.

Ronaldo is what he is, and his achievements to date imply he is not wrong to do what he does, however, he does it. An incredible athlete and footballer, Ronaldo will be considered as one of the all-time greats, but he is only human too.

To reach his current status has required a degree of selfishness, and it is a trait that the most ruthless show on their ascent to the very top.

CARDIFF, WALES - JUNE 03:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates with his winners medal after victory in the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and Real Madrid at National Stadium of Wales on June 3, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo has shown a ruthless desire to be the best throughout his career

Ronaldo saw an opportunity on Wednesday night to be the hero and the headline maker, he took the opportunity regardless of the risk, and lost. It will not change him or make him think twice in similar situations in the future.

His success has been generated through his attitude, his character and his desire to be the best in the world. Portugal may have lost, Ronaldo may have also lost this time too, but ultimately, he will always be the winner.

Also Read: 6 International goal-scorers Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to catch

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Mark Pitman
SENIOR ANALYST
Freelance football reporter, columnist and journalist with extensive experience writing for a wide range of top level digital platforms and printed publications. I have the privilege of interviewing some of the biggest names in the football world. Views are my own.
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