Ronaldo in 2014 World Cup

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With the way that confetti falls after the World Cup Final, there is a different type of fallout that occurs for the players that are not dancing around and celebrating. While all these players are playing at the highest level of competition and while a 1 month-long tournament against the best in the world should never shape a legacy, there is no doubt about the story-lines that will soon write themselves. Who will suffer the most? Who may escape unscathed?

The number one victim has to be Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese powerhouse that, in any other generation, would probably enter into a threshold reserved for players like Pele and Maradona. However, CR7 has been dealing with a knee injury that nobody seems to truly know the extent of. Considering the talent that normally exudes from Ronaldo, it seems likely that most players would have sat out of the Cup with such an injury. Sadly, Nike had placed all their chips on the player and the advertising used during the Ibra/CR7 conflict would have fallen at the feet of Ronaldo. Considering all of this, especially for a player so derided for his theatrics, it should actually be a testament to the player that CR7 pushed through 270 minutes of play.

Instead, it will only be seen as Ronaldo’s last true chance to succeed at the World Cup. Such a career, defined by 3 matches…

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard

The second victim will be the outgoing English players that have played their last game in a World Cup. Lampard and Gerrard will forever be the international enigma that never seemed to work. Wayne Rooney will probably have faltered at his last World Cup (DEFINITELY as a starter), Glen Johnson feels even more susceptible on the biggest stage than he felt when playing for Liverpool, Leighton Baines only excels while wearing blue, and Gary Cahill will probably be watching Russia from home or (at best) riding the bench. While the youth of England can thank their elderly counterparts for their frequent falterings as they, now, have very small shoes to fill, the legacy of these players will always be short-changed as they never succeeded on the biggest stage.

Two of the best midfielders of all time, a player closing in on being a legendary club’s top-scorer, a wing-back that has garnered over $30 million in transfer fees, a defender with the most dangerous left foot in the BPL, and a central defender that has won every major club trophy available within the past 3 seasons. Careers defined by 3 matches…

The main purpose of this article is to show that international success should not be the sole decider in how a player is perceived. Less time to form cohesion, less freedom/more fear, and a situation where having a decent group stage and then lucking into 4 straight wins (not that Germany’s recent story follows this particular arc) is supposed to make you be seen as the best players in the world…instead, factor it in the way it should. It is certainly a disappointment, but not something that changes all of the amazing accomplishments these players have obtained. Considering that Portugal and England are not exactly riding recent success within the Cup, it seems odd that these players are blamed for not making that change…oh well…


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