I had a nightmare about Portugal’s loss to Germany. Nothing compared with what it felt to look straight at the team being torn apart. But after all, I am a fan before a critic…
There’s a saying that goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. I’m writing this for Selecao Portugal and Number 7.
I believe, for an average football hobbyist, the love for football starts from the very moment you decide to choose which team to support and to become a fan of. As simple as Dad has his team; Mom has her team; so then I should have one team to root for. It may sound irrational having chosen Portugal based on one article found in the famous teen magazine at that time, the H2T, in around 2003, but I did — at the age of 13. The article drew several maps describing how each team approached the opponent’s goal. While Germany had straight lines; Brazil had more crooked lines; Portugal found themselves trapped in a tangled bunch of threads, with caption, “Selecao Portugal plays attractive attacking football, and they tend to show off their skills on their way to scoring”. Those few words mesmerized me, making me feel that had it not been for Brazil and Portugal, I would never have come to realize the true beauty of football.
But it was not until Euro 2004 did I know Brazil didn’t belong to the European tournament! Then I felt like I had plenty of luck with Portugal, for the Euro 2004 was held right in Portugal, the farther western country located in the ravishing Iberian peninsula. The 2004 Portugal squad was amazing. They consisted of several spectacular players, who stunned people with their attractive football style and defeated many big names in their way to the champion title, yet surprisingly lost to Greece in a ruthless unlucky finals. There were times I was so deeply in love with Portugal that I reckoned I could fall for every Portuguese: the coach of our Vietnam national team, Calisto; the coach of Chelsea football club, the ‘special one’ José Mourinho; and the romantic tutor at Oxford University, Fernando Carvalho, in my favourite book Oxford Love Story.
The naive 19-year-old Portugal’s Number 17 stole my heart in Euro 2004 as he had his first performance in one of the most renowned tournaments, playing the role of a left-winger. He was close to my type of guys at the time: innocent and joyful. Every time Ronaldo walked in, I couldn’t help but laugh because of his attempts to catch attention— showing off his blessed blistering pace and uncanny turns and tricks, delivering instant charming smiles once he knew there were cameras pointing at him, and his wearing earrings in both ears like a teenage boy. But he was at times soft and fragile — he, like a child, sobbed and prayed for a magic to save Portugal from being defeated by Greece in Euro 2004 finals. Luis Figo was coming to console him and Felipe Scolari was hugging him like a father to his son. The shocked result was beyond what a 19-year-old, who played with all his passion, could bear.
Perhaps Ronaldo is no genius footballer but I like how he came to shine the way he did. He has discipline, passion, ambition and is aspired to personal development. Above all, like no other, his reckless living style— the self against the world sort of personality of a typical Aquarius zodiac sign— is what has kept me a fan for as long as I’ve known him.
“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”, said Einstein, which I think is true to the case of Ronaldo. 10 years have passed with ups and downs, through failures and triumphs, from a boy to a man, from an unknown footballer to the best soccer player in the world today, either being a midfielder or a forward, he is always the player I’m most proud of, once most frustrated when he chose to leave Old Trafford, and sometimes most upset when he failed to prove himself the big name for the big games. Whoever he will become. However hopeless Portugal will be in conquering their dreams. No matter what. He is, and always will be, a special part of my love for football.