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Ronaldo: How different can he be from Woods?

As sporting statements go, there could have been no contrast between two that were made this past week. In one, a shamefaced icon issued a penitent “I’m human and not perfect”, while the other was there to see at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium. The message: I’m only human but damn-near perfect.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2009 00:28 IST
John Dykes

As sporting statements go, there could have been no contrast between two that were made this past week. In one, a shamefaced icon issued a penitent “I’m human and not perfect”, while the other was there to see at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium. The message: I’m only human but damn-near perfect.

Let’s leave Tiger alone and focus on the extraordinary contribution by Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo to a La Liga encounter with Almeria. In his fourth appearance in a Madrid shirt, he scored a goal, set up another, won a controversial penalty, missed it, failed to celebrate with his teammates when Karim Benzema put the rebound in, and then got sent off. The first of the two yellow cards that added up to his dismissal came when he ripped off his shirt in a goal-celebration.

The fact that Ronaldo swiftly apologised for his perceived lack of team spirit after the game (saying, “I am a perfectionist but I am glad Karim scored”) hardly matters. Ronaldo is loved and loathed in equal measure, and always has been.

Much has been made of Ronaldo’s potential to overhaul David Beckham in earnings from commercial activities. When he left Old Trafford, he earned $12 million a year in salary and $18 million in endorsements. His sponsorship deal with Nike is worth millions but he earns Madrid fortunes by pulling on an Adidas shirt.

But there are those who believe Ronaldo’s global branding potential is undermined by his lack of Beckham-style “likeability”.

“Off-field lifestyle is important: who you are married to and where you live,” said Simon Chadwick, professor of sport business strategy and marketing at Coventry University.

“This is where Ronaldo has a lot of work to do. He needs to find a steady partner and ideally someone who is famous in their own right. Finally you have to be seen as a good team player.”

We now know that the model wife, kids and private life thing hasn’t exactly worked out for Tiger. Perhaps Ronaldo would be better off doing what he does best: performing heroics on the pitch and antagonising his opponents.

(Catch John Dykes on ESPN’s Football Focus every Tuesday and First Edition on Friday)