Simply The Best I've Ever Seen...

Ronaldo is a big, c*ck out, rock 'n' roll hurricane in a way that Lionel Messi simply cannot touch. He's hard as nails dressed up as soft as s**te and Johnny loves him...

Last Updated: 13/01/14 at 10:20 Post Comment

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It's the Balloon Door, as one caller to a radio show called it recently. The Ballon d 'Or.

The award is voted on by coaches and captains of international teams and journalists; a constituency of semi-literate idiots you may think, but at least it's not a phone vote involving Simon Cowell.

It is the ultimate beauty contest to decide who is the bestest footballer of the last year on earth. I say beauty but the contenders, Cristiano Ronaldo, Franck Ribery and Leo Messi, are not beautiful men at all. My missus calls them a trio of 'leave the disco alone-ers'. Then again she sings 'the Phantom of the Opera is here,' every time she's sees Ribery playing for Bayern. Geordies are cruel people.

Thankfully, this beauty contest is all about football and there is no swimsuit parade - though Ronaldo almost certainly must wish there was just so he could administer baby oil to his body and stand in front of a mirror while slowly and rhythmically rubbing himself.

There's no doubt just how fantastic all three are but there is only one winner: Ronaldo.

Ronnie is the best footballer ever to walk the earth bar none and I've seen George Best, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Robin Friday play. Skilful enough and tough enough to dominate any era he played in, he doesn't rely on the modern rules which penalise physicality too readily. He is its most perfect modern expression as the quintessential big girl's blouse cum drama queen, yet in reality, he is bloody Iron Man and rarely gets injured despite taking a kicking. Hard as nails dressed up as a soft sh**e. That's CR7.

And yet, admire him as we do, no-one loves himself more than Cristiano. He would lick himself clean every night if he could. If he could only eat himself with a spoon like a giant human creme brulee he'd never leave the house. His self-love is exceeded, and this is crucial, only by his own talent. In a world of over-rated wannabees and overpaid never-will-bes, he's a proper, massive genius and my God he really knows it. Too much homage is paid to false humility these days and no-one could accuse Cris of that. He's the first to watch himself on the big screen replay and he's not just looking at the football. But when you're the best, why try and deny it?

While three-time winner Messi's talent is about intricacy and super-human control and vision, Ronaldo's is a bigger, more expansive, more comprehensive brilliance. He can do more in more positions more often. He has Messi's control but he has lightening pace, he has immense physicality, he is great in the air, can play wide on either side or play up the middle, hit a 30-yard dipping free-kick and can lash a ball as hard as anyone alive. He can do anything. In fact, I suspect he'd be a superb ball-playing centre-half if he wanted to be. Messi does his dancing feet thing and fair play to him for that, but there is simply a glory in Ronaldo's physicality which needs acknowledging and celebrating.

To see him running at full tilt with the ball is so damn exhilarating and it appeals to all the senses. It is at once cerebral in its skill and precision but also full-blooded and visceral. When you see Messi weaving through a packed defence with his magic feet in full effect, it is impressive but it doesn't flare the nostrils. It's more maths than poetry; brilliant but a bit nerdy. Ronaldo is a big, c*ck out, rock 'n' roll hurricane in a way that Messi can never be.

While football is slowly but surely being neutered to be a less physical and more skill-based game, awesome physique, power and sheer strength should always have their place because they stir our blood and soul. Put simply, a big bastard running really fast is thrilling; a reconnection to our hunter-gatherer selves where speed matched with skill was fundamental to existence itself.

And that's before we get to his statistics which in themselves are a form of numerology pornography. And not just for a season or two. But over-relying on stats to prove your argument for Ronnie is all bit too technique over soul for me and that would be to do him a disservice. The numbers don't thrill the way Ronaldo thrills when you just see him on the ball. Whenever he picks it up, does that pointy toe-ing of the ball while running thing, the heart soars. Go on, son, go say, internally worshipping his brilliance, a prickle of adrenalin irrepressibly coursing through your veins. Anything can happen now. Anything. He is shadow and light, sunrise and sunset, a whisper and a scream, Sonny and Cher. If Ronaldo were to win the Balloon Door, it'd be a victory for his unique brand of Sturm und Drang football.

Bizarrely, although he bestrides the game like an awfully coiffured colossus with a massive Adams apple, we almost take him for granted, so familiar has he become. I tell you this - we will not see his like ever again. Ronaldo is such an extraordinary physical specimen, so comprehensively replete with every talent a footballer needs and with no obvious weakness, that he is a freak of nature: a one-off. No-one will ever do what he does, like he does it. He is that special and when someone is that special it needs to be acknowledged officially by the game he plays. Not to do would be an insult not just to him, or to football but to the very notion of brilliance, the actual concept of being sodding great and, more prosaically, it would be to deny the essence of life itself. The word legend is over used to point of rendering it meaningless in football but this man a proper one, not one out of the bottle. He is a Special One.

He is the best. I know, it, you know it, football knows it and above and beyond all of us, Cristiano Ronaldo knows it. Let's just glory in that fact.

Johnny writes crime novels set on Teesside. People bloody love them. You can buy them here

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