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Cristiano Ronaldo: roll up, roll up

By Mark Burke

Roll up, roll up the for the best show in town!

Last Wednesday night, I was in Amsterdam for Ajax-Real Madrid. When Madrid are in town there is one man who interests all above others:Cristiano Ronaldo. And he did not disappoint. Aside from his wonderful hat trick and constant threat Ronaldo brings great theatre to every stadium he plays in.

Some might refer to this "theatre" as tantrums, or the actions of a spoiled player. But watching him again on Wednesday, it emphasised to me at least that football absolutely needs players like Ronaldo, who combine massive talent, artistry and effectivity with a personality that appeals to the spectator in all of us. 

We know he will react when a decision goes against him or he or a team mate makes a  mistake and we love it and he loves that we love it. And we love that he loves that we love it!

The stunned silence that pervaded the arena on Ronaldo's superb third goal, a delicate finish over the Ajax goalkeeper, Vermeer, was a silence filled with admiration and respect for one of the world's great players.

I know from experience playing in front of big crowds that the collective noise a crowd makes can tell many things to an ear trained by years of being in, listening to, observing and playing in front of large crowds of people.  The soundwaves at the Arena were filled with admiration for a man at the peak of his profession.

Obviously the crowd jeered Ronaldo as much as it could when things went against him but this was done with a sense of respect that you saw in their eyes and heard in their shouts. The game needs characters more than ever in a world and a game that is becoming more and more homogenised. Above all, it needs players with talent and personality and Ronaldo has that in abundance.

I'm writing this the morning after Ronaldo has again shown his value with two goals in the Camp Nou against Barcelona.

Cristiano Ronaldo: the showman who always produces. 

In this new, shiny, glossy football world he is the football marketing man's dream.

* Mark Burke is the former Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Fortuna Sittard midfield player.