Friday, June 22, 2012

What if Cristiano Ronaldo played for Australia?

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A relatively obscure fact about Cristiano Ronaldo is that he was once – a long time ago – eligible to represent Australia. His grandparents live in Perth, Australia's westernmost outpost, the most remote city in the world. It's not known if the Football Federation of Australia explored “recruiting” him, but it's highly unlikely given how passionately he represents Portugal. Greece forward Giorgos Samaras and Turkey defender Ersan Gülüm likewise have chosen other nations over Australia.

However, even had he chosen the green and gold of the Socceroos rather than his Iberian homeland, Ronaldo may well have not been accepted as easily as you'd think. We'd love his pace, skill, aggression and athleticism – but could Australians stand his hair? Certainly, many find his predilection for product rather unnerving; Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the best footballers of all time, but often takes the field looking as if he's dipped his hair in a bucket of furniture varnish.

He certainly likes to stand out, and unfortunately that can lead to being lampooned just because you're confident enough to do so.  It's a good thing his ego appears puncture-proof.

This takes nothing away from his skill or achievement. But Australia, home of “Tall Poppy Syndrome” and about as cynical a country as you could find, doesn't tolerate sporting prima donnas particularly well. Much about Ronaldo has a touch of the diva: from his personal grooming habits to his demonstrative body language.  I'm honestly not sure how well he would fit with Lucas Neill or Sasa Ognenovski.

He'd be welcome, of course – Australia have sought a forward who can score like him since the game was invented.  Plus, who wouldn't want Cristiano Ronaldo apart from Sandro Rosell? That said, as Harry Kewell (Australian football's biggest ego) found out when playing the diva in the early part of last century, the acclimatisation process would probably be quite rough.

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