Scoring his 51st career hattrick which incidentally is the 51st in the World Cup in a World Cup cracker against Spain Russia adds value to the legendary status of Cristiano Ronaldo. The hattrick against Spain in the pulsating encounter that ended 3-3 was his 84 international goal.
In the game against Spain, he scored from the penalty spot and also from a set piece which was sublime bringing his entire performance on the night to an all round high. He keeps churning in the records even as they keep tumbling previous records. At 32 he keeps scoring with ease and splendour of an energetic youth gradually climbing to the pinnacle of his carerr.
But Ronaldo is already at the zenith of his carerr yet hungrier than the rest. He is hungry not just for goals but for laurels, awards and trophies. Only such hunger can motivate a player if his age and class to give more to the sport and keep challenging or motivating thd younger generation.
His bicycle kick goal in the quarter-final of the Champions League against Juventus was so remarkable that it inspired Gareth Bale to replicate it in the final against Liverpool. Only God knows how many younger footballers will be trying the set piece which kept David De Gea fixed to the ground and in between his post.
Ronaldo has nothing else to prove in the sport except for the fact that he is dreaming of lifting the World Cup which is the only trophy remaining for him to win. For the fact that he scored a hattrick means he has more to offer the sport even as he sets sight on the retirement vend. Reports say he is on his way out of the Bernabue. Surely suitors would not be in short supply.
Back to Russia, Ronaldo has succeeded in putting his arch-rival, Lionel Messi under pressure in this tournament. They have been running neck to neck in the last 10 years. Both are yet to win the World Cup but if Ronaldo goes ahead to emerge top scorer in this tournament it gives him an edge over Messi in the race for the next Balon d’Or. Scoring a hattrick in the opening fixture of a World Cup encounter is no mean feat. His rivals can only attempt to sustain the chase in what now obviously looks like a forgone issue.
Midweek, Ronaldo de Lima spoke on the rivalry of both players but concluded that Messi is more talented even though Cristiano Ronaldo is world class. The Portuguese captain has up his game once more thus challenging his rival and all those behind him a (Messi). He has made them to do a rethink of his rating and trust that he is a better player.
The world awaits more magic moments from this great player as thus tournament progresses.
By Desmond Ekwueme