Young Cristiano Ronaldo burst on the international scene in 2004, helping energize the home side as Portugal rode the back end of that fabled Golden Generation into a European Championship final. (Portugal lost to Greece in the final.)
Ronaldo matched two goals with two assists in that tournament, mostly off the bench. He was just 19 at the time, a boy not yet grown into the man’s body we know today.
But he did ignite the fire of promise, didn’t he?
Ronaldo’s team claimed three big points Wednesday, staying alive in the Group of the Non-Life with a 3-2 win over the Danes (which threw Group D into temporary chaos, pending the afternoon outcome.)
But what of Ronaldo and his tendency to fade (and that’s being kind) major tournaments – not since that first one, at least. Really, it’s bigger than that; he seems to shrink generally in the national shirt. As for major tournaments specifically, the undeniably gifted attacker is better known for foul-mouthed tirades, petulance and embellishment than for brilliance, than for driving his team with goals and leadership. To wit: Ronaldo has five goals in 21 World Cup or European Championship matches.
So far in Poland-Ukraine, two games, no goals – and a couple of notorious misses that could have cratered his country’s Euro ambitions. Compare his two-year record at Real Madrid, where Ronaldo has poured in goals at a phenomenal rate, 113 in 109 appearances.
So, will we ever see such a handsome sum in a major tournament? Will we ever see the Ronaldo in a Portuguese kit as we see him for in the kit of the Bernabeu? His numbers at World Cups and Euros so far:
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