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Opinion

Newcastle United star has to look at example of Cristiano Ronaldo or else case of ‘what might have been’

5 months ago
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A few nights ago, I sat down to watch the documentary about Cristiano Ronaldo, following the five time Ballon D’or winner during 2013 and 2014.

While I fully appreciate he is not everyone’s cup of tea, I have huge admiration for the superstar from Portugal.

A player who will go down in history as one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

What really shone through in the documentary, was just how dedicated he is to being the absolute best he could be. Everything about his diet, training and general lifestyle is geared towards his football.

When he eventually does retire (and he shows no sign of slowing down even at the age of 35), he will look back on his career knowing that he did everything he could to squeeze every last drop out of his talent.

He has been driven on by the comparisons to the other great player of his generation, Lionel Messi.

Debate has raged for over a decade about which of the two is the better player but they couldn’t be more different. Messi is clearly the more naturally gifted of the two. He makes the game look easy. Cristiano Ronaldo has had to work harder to reach his level. He’s become stronger, quicker, a more lethal finisher, to rise to the level of his great rival.

So why is this relevant to readers of The Mag?

Well I thought the documentary was particularly interesting in the context of comments made by Matt Ritchie in the press over the last few days. In case you missed them, Ritchie said the following about his team-mate Jonjo Shelvey:

‘What a player, I’ve been at Newcastle four years and I’ve seen him inside a box no more than 10 times.

‘That’s how good he is. His natural ability to see passes, to receive the ball, to move the ball.

‘I remember playing against him as a kid – I think he scored a hat-trick, he was unbelievable.

‘He’s got his moves – ending up at Newcastle. I say to him on regular occasions: ‘If you had your head screwed on you could play for Barcelona.

‘He’s that good. He’s got everything.’

Ritchie went on to say that Shelvey’s golf habits are another factor preventing him from reaching his potential on the football pitch: ‘I’ve said to him so many times, if you just got head down and focused just solely on football and forget about golf and whatever else: ‘He’s mad – he’ll play golf like three times a week. I’m like ‘Jonjo, you can’t do that.’

Unfortunately, Ritchie’s comments confirmed probably many of our suspicions about Shelvey. Like Ritchie said, Shelvey is an extremely talented player. He is a wonderful passer of the ball and makes the game look so easy. Anyone who has played the number of the games for the clubs he has done is clearly a wonderful footballer.

However, he is also incredibly frustrating.

He has been gifted with a wonderful talent and at 28 years of age should be coming into the prime of his career. Instead, he appears destined to be a somewhat unfulfilled talent who could have achieved so much more if he had just applied himself off the pitch and married hard work to his undoubted ability.

Perhaps when the long awaited takeover does eventually happen, and we add some better attacking talent for Shelvey to supply his acute range of passing to, his effectiveness will increase.

Otherwise, when he finishes playing, he might look back on his career with a feeling of ‘what might have been’…

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