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28th Jun 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo is far better than what he just did for Portugal

If you're a leader, then just lead for God's sake

Conan Doherty

If you’re the best penalty-taker in your team, go up and take the bloody first penalty.

Cristiano Ronaldo, you’re better than this nonsense.

If you’re by far and away the best player of a rank average side, step up and take the damn pressure off the rest of them because Lord knows they’re looking for someone like you as a comfort blanket.

If you’re a leader, then just lead for God’s sake.

Look, you won’t find a bigger Ronaldo fan than right here but, sometimes, a spade has to be called a spade. Sometimes, an ego affects a team and, sometimes, it’s completely unnecessary but totally costly.

I’ve argued before and I’ll argue again that Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player in the world.

How he continues to reinvent himself, how prolific he continues to be and how stupidly brilliant he frankly is at every aspect of attacking has seen him hit unimaginable heights and he’ll deservedly waltz to a fifth Ballon d’Or award in January.

What he did in the Euros was breathtaking – as a goalscorer, as a captain, and then as a passionate countryman forced to watch on in the final from the sidelines.

But on Wednesday night in the Confederations Cup semi-final, his country needed him again and Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t to be seen. He was hiding. He was gambling. He was waiting in the background hoping to hit a glory penalty, presumably.

He never got that chance.

And that’s not good enough.

Ronaldo owes Portugal nothing and all that bollocks but when you play on a team like that and you’re a player like Ronaldo, they’re going to come asking time and time again. And, sorry, but when you’re that good and they’re that shit, you better at least have the courtesy to put yourself forward when they need you, no matter how many times they do.

Instead, Ronaldo waited in the wings as Vidal, Aranguiz and Sanchez rattled home their efforts and their Portuguese counterparts choked.

Ronaldo watched on and trusted Nani – Nani, for Christ’s sake – to rescue the country with a do-or-die kick and, of course, true to form, Nani pranced around and ballsed it up.

The undisputed most in-form player in the world right now didn’t get a kick because he was saving his moment for when it might be the winner and he could reel off in celebration as the hero.

He was saving the kick until the end, risking never hitting one and he did that for his own ego.

The last penalty means no more than the first, second or third – especially when you don’t even get to hit the damn thing.

Ronaldo should’ve been front and centre, lighting the way like he has been doing for club and country for the last 18 months. He should’ve hit the first penalty and settled Portuguese nerves but, when they needed him most, he took himself away from the battle scene in the off-chance that he might get to swoop in at the very end and be remembered for that.

He put himself over his country.

He let f**king Nani take a penalty instead of him.