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What if: Ronaldinho had the discipline of Cristiano Ronaldo

Rohit George
8.58K   //    09 Oct 2017, 07:43 IST

Real Madrid CF v Levante UD - La Liga
Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho: Two of the greatest players to ever step onto a football pitch.

Hard work and talent have always been considered to be the fundamentals of a successful career in any field, but even more so in sports. However, this by no means implies that a person who possesses innate ability does not need to work hard, as basketball star Kevin Durant once famously noted: “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

And if anyone from the footballing world ever wanted to see an example of what Durant was referring to, they needn’t any further than the respective careers of Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo.

On the face of it, both Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo are undoubtedly two of the greatest players to ever grace a football field. But a closer look at their respective careers’ shows you why one has managed to outlive the other.

In Ronaldinho’s case, the Brazilian was easily one of the most naturally gifted players this world has ever seen as he was blessed with pace, skill, technical ability and finishing prowess all in equal measure.

And given how hard it is to be humble in this world, it’s perfectly understandable why the former Barcelona man decided to strut his stuff in his own inimitable way, even if it meant humiliating his opponents whilst enthralling his fans.

Real Madrid v F.C. Barcelona
In his prime Ronaldinho made some of the biggest names in football look extremely ordinary.

From inventing moves such as the no-look pass and the elastico to earning a standing ovation from his fiercest rivals, the former no.10 did what he wanted at will, against whomever he wanted and there simply was no stopping him. And for the few people who didn’t follow football, Ronaldinho managed to win them over too, with his famous contagiious smile.

Ronaldinho was the poet of his own fall

But for all his God-given talent and charm that he might have had, it must be said that Ronaldinho didn’t possess the strongest willpower that a human being could ever have. And in a way, that is what curtailed the longevity of his career as he never really managed to strike a balance between his life on and off the football pitch.

In fact, Ronaldinho’s wayward lifestyle off the pitch had been a thorn in his own flesh, ever since his initial days in Europe with Paris Saint Germain and this continued to be the case even during his incredibly successful 5-year spell at Barcelona. However, his sheer genius on the pitch had given football fans all over the world very little to complain, up until that point.

Real Zaragoza v FC Barcelona
Ronaldinho has only himself and his wayward ways to blame for his downfall.

But sooner rather than later, Ronaldinho’s vicious ways were bound to catch up with him and the inevitable did occur once he left Barcelona for AC Milan. Despite establishing himself one the most feared players in the world during his time in Spain, the Brazilian was unable to maintain that reputation thereafter.

But, to be honest, ‘Ronnie’ never really seemed concerned by his own fall from grace and in a way, no one could really blame him either for by then he had already achieved everything that most others can only dream of.

What sets Ronaldo apart

If skill and talent were the only determinants of a player’s greatness, Ronaldinho would have walked away with the title hands down. But as Bruce Lee once said, “The will must be stronger than the skill” and it is here that Cristiano Ronaldo comes into the picture.

When Ronaldo first burst onto the big stage at Manchester United back in 2003, no one really expected the then Portuguese teenager to go on to become the player that he is today. This 0isn’t to say that Ronaldo didn’t have the necessary talent to become one of the best players the game has ever seen, he obviously did. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been playing for as long as he has been.

But more than his talent, the former Sporting Lisbon man has always had a burning desire to become the best footballer that has ever lived and he has made no secret of this fact at any stage of his glittering career.

While Ronaldinho and Ronaldo may have been equally gifted as far as their abilities on the football pitch are concerned, the one aspect where the Portuguese beats the Brazilian all ends up is the kind of self-discipline he practices off the pitch.

Real Madrid v APOEL Nikosia - UEFA Champions League
Cristiano Ronaldo's discipline off the pitch is the secret to his success on it.

From being a teetotaler to spending a ridiculous amount of time in the gym in order achieve and maintain the picturesque physique that he possesses, Ronaldo has taken measures to keep himself at the top that Ronaldinho couldn’t possibly care less about. But at the same time, it’s also because of these very measures that the Real Madrid no.7 is still at the peak of his powers, while the former Barcelona man has all but become a part of footballing folklore.

The perfect player

The whole point of imagining a hypothetical situation wherein what would happen if Ronaldinho had the discipline of Ronaldo isn’t by any means to show the Brazilian in a bad light, nor is it to compare two of the greatest players ever.

But in a perfect world, if one was ever asked to describe the perfect footballer, then it should ideally be someone who has the innate ability of Ronaldinho and the discipline of Cristiano Ronaldo for one can be rest assured that we’ll never see anyone as gifted as the Brazilian or as dedicated as the Portuguese ever again.

But in a way, it's good that the world we live in isn’t a perfect one, after all, human beings are perfectly designed to be imperfect. And this also means that we’ll succeed in life not as long as we are destined to succeed, but as long as we want to succeed. For, as Kevin Durant once said, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

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