Euro win seals Ronaldo’s legacy
LONDON — It was Lionel Messi who was supposed to be the one to reframe the debate. For three summers in a row, the Argentine genius has been a kick or two away from adding major tournament honours for his country and going some way towards replicating the achievements of Diego Maradona and Pele in the international arena.
For Messi, that moment has apparently been and gone with his hastily announced international retirement. But long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo can now lay claim to such an honour having added a European Championship with Portugal to the third Champions League triumph of his career that he won just six weeks ago in Milan.
In truth, Ronaldo was never under the same pressure to deliver as Messi. His circumstances weren’t quite akin to those of George Best with Northern Ireland but nor was he weighed down by the burden of international expectation. Certainly not since missing the chance with Portugal’s so-called golden generation as a teenager on home soil in 2004.
But he has achieved it nevertheless, hauling Portugal to glory. Of course, it didn’t come in the manner expected. There was no trademark winning goal. Ronaldo wasn’t even on the field of play for much of the match, injured early on and getting only eight touches of the ball. Reduced to a cheerleading role, his team-mates got the job done without him.
But few could begrudge him the celebrations. Nobody, not coach Fernando Santos nor Eder, the scorer of the winning goal,
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo holds the trophy after winning the Euro 2016 final soccer match between Portugal and France in Paris on Sunday.