Football: Christiano Ronaldo – The Breakthrough

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It’s days before the 2008 European Championships get underway. After a successful season with Manchester United, you would expect Christiano Ronaldo, to be settled and focused, ahead of Portugal’s campaign. An opportunity for them to try to go one better, than their tame 2004 final defeat, to Greece.

But no. All the media focus, is centred around whether Ronaldo wants to go and ply his trade in Spain, with Real Madrid.

The European Championships, is the perfect stage for Ronaldo to demonstrate that he is a world star. It is one thing showing your class every week in the Premier League. Quite another, to do so, against the cream of European talent.

And there remains questions marks about Ronaldo’s ability, to turn it on, in the really big matches. The games where the world’s best, demonstrate exactly why they are so good. Ronaldo’s penalty shoot-out miss in the Champions League final, will only have increased the uncertainty about his temperament.

So, this tournament comes at the perfect time for him. Yet, before a ball has been kicked, there is a sense that Ronaldo, will be too distracted to deliver match-winning performances for Portugal. That there will be too much on his mind.

All he needed to do was to resolve this uncertainty, by saying how settled he was at United, and had no intention of leaving. Then he could be totally focused on the job in hand. Relishing the opportunity, to transfer his exhilarating club form, onto the international stage. Making it his personal goal, to help Portugal become European Champions for the very first time. And be totally focused on that outcome.

It’s as if, it’s another indication, that Ronaldo is still not quite ready to make that transition, from good to great. Surely a truly great player would not allow themselves to be so distracted, in the days before a major international tournament?

It’s that 5% of emotional doubt within Ronaldo, that he has to overcome, before he can be a true world-star. A 5% of subtle inner uncertainty and unsettlement. Under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson and Carlos Quieroz, Ronaldo has taken great strides in building a stronger emotional assembly and stability. But the next step will be the most difficult for him. The closer you get to an emotional breakthrough, the more powerful the internal resistance.

Luis Felipe Scolari, has the experience to guide Ronaldo through these shadows of doubt. The question remains, as to whether the player himself, is yet ready to make that final emotional transition.