“And Ronaldo didn’t even get the chance to take one,” Jonathan Pearce exclaimed, as Cesc Fabregas wheeled away in delight after dispatching Spain’s semi-final winning penalty.
Er sorry, but the truth is Jonathan - of course Cristiano Ronaldo had the chance to take one; he should have put himself at the front of the queue to do so. On occasions such as these, Ronaldo quite often has a scenario in his mind as to what is about to happen; that he will be the deciding factor, that it’ll be his name on the backs of newspapers worldwide the following morning.
Yet by electing to take the fifth spot-kick himself, Ronaldo automatically places added pressure on the four men before him. If Portugal were to have been awarded a penalty in normal time, do you really think any one of Moutinho, Pepe, Nani or Alves would’ve had a chance from 12 yards? Not likely.
As captain of the team - the debate as to whether he’s the best leader rather than ‘simply’ the best player is one for another day - it was Ronaldo’s job to step up first, score his penalty and lay down a marker; lead by example for his country and show his team-mates how it’s done.
Effectively, Ronaldo was banking on everybody bar one Spaniard scoring before it was his turn, then he could win the game for his team and elevate himself to an even higher pedestal than the one he’s placed himself on.
This is certainly not the first time we’ve seen Ronaldo try and make it all about him, with his persona and self-arrogance leading us to believe it will also not be the last.
I remember watching Ronaldo in the Champions League final of 2008, when his Manchester United side defeated Chelsea on penalties after John Terry’s infamous slip on the spot. Whilst his team-mates ran to jump on victorious goalie Edwin Van Der Sar, Ronaldo slumped alone on his backside like a Wimbledon tennis champion; a simple yet self-indulgent act which suggested his ability to embrace being part of a team can sometimes be lacking somewhat.
Perhaps Ronaldo was relieved having missed his own penalty in that particular shootout, though I’m inclined to think he actually wanted us to notice that he was all alone in celebration, drinking in his victory. If that’s the case, I’ve fallen for it hook, line and sinker.
But even in this tournament, Ronaldo’s ‘all-about-me-ness’ has shone through a tad. After a stinker of a game against Denmark, where the talisman fluffed his lines in front of goal on numerous occasions, Portugal managed to grab a late winner through substitute Silvestre Varela.
As Varela screamed and performed the knee-slide celebration, his team-mates - both from on the pitch, and the substitutes warming up - bundled him, recognising how important the goal was to the country’s progression in Euro 2012. One guy wasn’t so keen to jump in to the man-mix though, any idea who that particular player might have been?
Contrast that to how he acts when he scores the goals - think back to his reaction to his diving-header winner against the Czech's in the last eight.
Many have used his arrogance as a stick to beat him with in the tedious Messi versus Ronaldo debate, stating that the former wouldn’t act in such ways, but this is what makes both players different and excellent in their own right.
In fairness, Ronaldo does have the whole weight of his country (plus the rest of Europe) expecting him to continually make the difference in the big-games, and it is of course unfair for us to expect him to do it in every single game that he plays. But this isn’t an excuse to strut around in such a self-absorbed manner; head-shaking into the cameras when a willing team-mate has stepped up and missed his kick.
I wanted Portugal to win the match - right through until the point when it became apparent Ronaldo was making this about himself by being the fifth taker. He took first for Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final last season, and although he missed, he commanded much more respect that way. This time around, I’m inclined to believe Portugal reaching the final just had to be about him.
Paulo Bento would’ve given his captain the chance, despite what Jonathan Pearce might have told you.