Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably realized that today is the birthday of Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s greatest ever football players. According to google, CR7 is now 32 years old, meaning that father time is catching up with a player who has played football for well over a decade.
As a celebration of sorts and a sign of appreciation for all Ronaldo has done for this club, let’s count down the 32 reasons Madrid fans should be grateful for Cristiano Ronaldo’s birth on February 5th, 1985.
1. Goals - Let’s start off with the most obvious thing - his goals. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored an inhuman 384 goals in 374 matches (a ratio of just under 1.03 goals per game) for Real Madrid, a display of consistency and G.O.A.T. level finishing that we will likely never see again.
2. Hat-tricks - Even better is the number of hat-tricks he’s got - 40 - which far surpasses Di Stéfano’s record to stand alone as a Real Madrid record.
3. Clutch Hat-trick vs. Wolfsburg - All those hat-tricks weren’t just for show of course, as demonstrated by his three-goal demolition of Wolfsburg in one of the clutchest performances of all time. Ronaldo doesn’t score these goals, there’s no 11th Champions League for Los Blancos in the 2015/16 season. Simple.
4. Brilliance in El Clásico - But Ronaldo doesn’t just save the big goals for small moments like Champions League knockout ties, he saves them for one of his favorite victims - FC Barcelona.
Feast your eyes on his 16 goals vs. La Blaugrana.
5. Calma Calma - Speaking of El Clásico, who can forget this epic moment?
6. Copa del Rey Final Winner - And since we’re getting so nostalgic we might as well add this.
7. Excellence in El Derbi Madrileño - Keeping with the theme of rivalries, Ronaldo has also performed big-time in Real’s slightly less important, but no less hateful, rivalry against Atlético Madrid.
8. Giving Ray Hudson So Much Material - And within that rivalry Ronaldo created the opportunity for Ray Hudson to say something that we should all be eternally thankful for:
9. Assists - For all his goal scoring and reputation as a selfish player, Ronaldo also has an incredible assist record with Los Blancos. This may be surprising to you, but CR7 has fashioned a prolific 121 assists in all competitions for Real Madrid, a stat that is only a small portion of the humongous 700 chances (assists+key passes, as defined by OPTA) he has created for his teammates across the Champions League and La Liga (note: Ronaldo has 101 assists in the aforementioned competitions). This dude is damn selfish.
10. Pure Entertainment - While pure numerical excellence is enough of a reason to be grateful for Ronaldo, one can’t forget that Cristiano was the most entertaining player in world football in his prime.
Watching Madrid games were pure joy because you knew that Ronaldo had the potential and willingness to do something amazing every time he touched the ball. 35-yard golazos, solo goals, roulettes, step-overs, chops, flicks; you name it, he’s done it.
11. Long-range Golazos - I know I kind of covered it in the above section, but Ronaldo’s long-range beauties deserve a special mention...
12. Solo Goals - ...as do his solo goals.
13. Free Kicks - Following Ronaldo’s two poor seasons from set-pieces, it seems like many have forgotten just how good CR7 used to be from dead-ball situations for the majority of his Madrid career. He used to smack in 30 yard screamers for fun, all while shooting with the most difficult technique in football.
With Ronaldo’s recent free kick record seemingly on the up, let’s hope the Portuguese legend can sustain his form so we can continue to have eye-gasms for as long as he plays.
14. Penalties - Yes, penalties. Barcelona fans will have you think that converting spot-kicks is a very bad thing, but I can assure you that having someone who can finish shots from 12 yards at a rate better than most is actually a very good thing.
15. Penalty to win La Undécima - Case in point.
16. Headers - It helps your team a lot when you possess a kangaroo who can achieve lift-off at 5G’s and head a ball towards goal as if he were kicking it.
17. “Weak foot” - Seriously, can we even call it his weak foot?
18. Off-the-ball movement - But if we really want to be thankful, let’s be less obvious and thank Ronaldo for his work off-the-ball, something that is rarely appreciated by the general football fan, let alone Madridistas. “Tap-ins” are underrated because people ignore the work done without the ball to get into advantageous positions time and time again, while runs by teammates and deep movements to break presses and create passing options are almost never appreciated.
Ronaldo's World Class movement inside the box - fakes one way to create space for a free header. Most underrated aspect of his game. pic.twitter.com/IuoXBdt9FY— Om Arvind (@OmVArvind) November 26, 2016
19. 17 Champions League Goals in 2013/14 - Let’s not forget that within Ronaldo’s overall record with Madrid, there are several smaller, but no less significant records. Namely his 17 goals in the 13/14 UEFA Champions League season, a single season record that undoubtedly paved the path to La Décima.
20. Brace vs. Schalke in 2014/15 - Since we’re on the topic of the Champions League, let’s slip in another clutch performance from Ronaldo.
21. Celebrations - I’m pretty sure the real reason everyone hates Ronaldo is because he knows how to celebrate better than everyone else.
There’s also the fact that his now marquee CR7 celebration is a cultural phenomenon.
Just more reasons to hate him.
22. Unbridled Passion - What makes Ronaldo’s celebrations so good is his unrelenting and unrestrained passion. If there’s one thing you can guarantee with Ronaldo, it’s that you’ll see and hear exactly how he feels right when he feels it. While this is often seen as a negative trait, there is no denying that his obvious passion for the sport is the #1 driver behind his greatness.
23. Playing Through the Pain - Such a characteristic has led to him to play through the pain in the second leg of the 2012/13 UCL tie with Dortmund and in the 2013/14 Champions League final, whilst staying on in matches where he’s been bloodied and bruised countless times.
24. Welcoming Gareth Bale - For some idiotic reason, the press can’t stop talking about how much Bale and Ronaldo hate each other. If CR7 really did feel threatened by the presence of the Welshman, he wouldn’t have gone out of his way to welcome the then world record signing back in 2013/14. Not only did Ronaldo ask the press to back off, but Bale’s mother has been quoted saying:
Ronaldo has been absolutely brilliant - he's helped him settle in. When you feel good you start to play well - he's living the dream.
This stuff will probably long forgotten 20 years from now, but you can’t underrate how much it must’ve helped the now flourishing Gareth Bale to have a friend who had been there before.
25. Causing Ancelotti To Mimic His Celebration - Ancelotti is awesome. Ancelotti doing Ronaldo’s celebration is more awesome. No Ronaldo means no Ancelotti celebrating like Ronaldo. That would be sad.
26. Causing Mourinho To Let Lose - It seems a running theme with Ronaldo that he gets coaches to mimic his celebrations. Granted Mourinho has done this type of thing before, but you can’t deny that the below celebration is the exact replica of the one Ronaldo executed seconds before after scoring the winning goal vs. Manchester City in the group stage of the 2012/13 Champions League.
27. Holding It Together in the 2012/13 Season - It is honestly astonishing to realize that Ronaldo maintained his immense “goal-a-game” standard in 2012/13, as everyone else played massively inconsistent and arguably poor seasons due to the carnage that Jose Mourinho’s ego and man-management wrought. While that season is often looked at as a disaster, things would have undoubtedly been much worse without Cristiano’s vital contributions.
28. Helping Bring Real Madrid Back to the Top of the Champions League - Before Ronaldo, Real Madrid were failing to make it past the Champions League Round of 16 for five straight years. After Ronaldo, Madrid made five consecutive Champions League semifinals and have won the competition two times. It’s a bit simplistic to give all the credit to only one man, considering that Real Madrid’s team as a whole also got vastly better from 2009 onwards, but it would be foolish to deny that Ronaldo played a huge part in banishing Los Merengues’ embarrassing streak.
29. Recognizing the Fans - With all of Ronaldo’s success and riches, it would be really easy for Ronaldo to ignore the fans that are the backbone of his commercial juggernaut and worldwide appeal. Luckily for us, there are countless moments where Ronaldo has taken the time to do the little things that might not seem like much, but probably mean the world to the fans he reached out to.
30. Rivalry with Messi - Yes, instead of bickering about who is better, we should sit back and appreciate the greatest individual duel in football the world has ever seen. There will never be a rivalry like this ever again.
31. Never Giving Up - After watching Messi sweep 4 straight Ballon D’ors and Barcelona win 3 straight La Liga titles and two trebles from 2009-2012, it would’ve been so easy for Ronaldo to simply drop his head and give up. Luckily for us, he didn’t. He used his pain as a weapon to make himself stronger and come back better than ever, leading him to snap up 3 Ballon D’ors in 4 years and 5 major club titles since 2011.
32. Choosing Real Madrid - Finally, let’s just be thankful that Ronaldo chose to join Real Madrid. He could’ve easily joined forces with Messi at Barcelona (indeed, Manchester United desperately tried to sell him to the Blaugrana) or stayed at Manchester to comfortably win league title after league title, but instead he followed his inner-Madridismo all the way to the Bernabeu. Thank the heavens.