Euro 2016: Cristiano Ronaldo is lucky - and luck favours the brave
Failure is the pillar of success
It was Portugal’s best team in recent memory. Luis Figo led a brilliant bunch of players to the final at the Euro 2004, but fell short to a sturdy Greece side as their best chance to win a major tournament slipped right out of their hands.
A solitary goal from Greece snatched away Portugal’s dream. The Iberian were the hosts back then and Greece became the least deserving Euro winner of all time. And Cristiano Ronaldo, only 19 years old at that time, was crying like a baby.
The iconic image of the 2004 Euro was pretty similar to the one of the Euro 2016. The same person wearing the same shirt was in tears. This time, however, it was on more than just one occasion.
Cristiano Ronaldo was down. He was in tears. He knew his final was over, but he tried. And he limped. He fell back. He stood up again. Plastered his knee. He tried again. He fell again, but this time, he had to go. With great remorse, he was stretchered off while tears were rolling down his face.
100 minutes later, he was in tears again. Portugal had won the Euro 2016—and it was without him.
The common note dissolved
When you compare Portugal’s team with that of Lionel Messi’s Argentina, it oozes a bleak image of inferiority at almost every front. Heck, even the supposed ‘weak’ defense of Argentina—the label is nothing more than a dogma—is far stronger than the backline led by the stupendous Pepe.
Yet, Argentina couldn’t win a single final in three attempts—and Lionel Messi featured in all of them.
Cristiano Ronaldo managed to do with Portugal even without being on the pitch, what Lionel Messi couldn't do with Argentina despite being on the pitch. And this is where the former is lucky.
Before the Euro final, Cristiano Ronaldo had everything a footballer could aspire for, and yet he had nothing—for when you don’t have the thing you covet the most, everything else becomes secondary.
Similarly, Lionel Messi had to suffer from the same fate. However, luck always eluded him when he needed it the most—be it in the form of Higuain missing a sitter or himself skying a penalty.
The inspiring leader
When Cristiano Ronaldo was being stretchered off, Portugal’s hopes of winning the game were almost over. However, one could get the feeling that the team would be more inspired to win it for their greatest player.
And it panned out exactly that way. After a drab 90 minutes, the 3 time Ballon d’Or winner took over the sidelines and barked instructions like a coach. His inspiring of every Portugal player during breaks was an admirable sight—the sort of leadership that encouraged his team-mates to give it their best.
And luck favoured them. Griezmann’s uncharacteristic miss, Giroud being Giroud, Gignac hitting the post… it all happened. And in the midst of France’s barrage, Eder somehow managed to score the only goal of the game after coming on for Renato Sanches.
Portugal, contrary to popular belief, did take a talented squad with them. Hence, their reserved way of playing never really hit the right note with the aficionados. They might have won, but it was a victory stained with shame of being the least deserving Euro winners in history.
Luck favoured the brave
For the sake of the beauty of the game, we hope that a team never wins a major competition after playing like Portugal—who won only one game in normal time—but it must also be added that one of the best player of this generation deserved to win something with his nation.
And he did. Portugal might not have deserved it, but Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro did.
Despite being the subject of many people’s hate, despite being booed in every game, despite a lot of people wanting him to fail… he kept going on. After Payet’s knee brutally lunged into the Portuguese’s, the latter tried to keep playing even though he could barely walk without limping.
People will call the Real Madrid number 7 lucky for winning the Euro—and rightfully so. But it is worth remembering that luck favours the brave—and braver than Cristiano, there is only a very few.