Ronaldo: We'll miss him when he's gone

Even some Manchester United fans seem glad to see the back of Ronaldo. But Susannah Frankel is mourning
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Love him or loathe him, Cristiano Ronaldo was by far the most glamorous player in the Premiership, embodying the souped up Saint Tropez playboy look to a point that rivals George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley circa Club Tropicana. This, then, is a man who has no qualms about his disconcerting resemblance to a chipolata sausage. Then there's the James Dean lip and quiff to consider. Despite – or even because of – the overload of Hawaiian Tropic, the stonewash denim worn long before it came back into fashion and without a trace of irony, and the crucifix that would dwarf the average medallion, he still succeeds in setting hearts – male and female – aflutter like no other. Macho doesn't cover it.

Admittedly, competition is far from fierce. Ask a wannabe WAG which footballer she'd most like to see and be seen with and she's unlikely to say Tevez (bad hair, worse eyebrows), Crouch (weedy by any other name), or Rooney (plain simian, Coleen can keep him). Instead, Ronaldo is the obvious – the only – respectable option. At just 24, he is the quintessential peacock male and not since George Best has any other footballer come close. The trouble is, he's already outgrown the British social scene. Only Ronaldo could be spotted the night before his £80m transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid was announced, hanging out with Paris and Nicky Hilton in Hollywood.

On a superficial level – the tan the colour of gravy and dress sense that may not unreasonably be described as disastrous makes him all the more appealing – there's so much a woman of style could do for him. After all, he has so much to learn. Then there's the fact he behaves like football's biggest baby bringing out the protective mother in anyone with half a heart – women the world over yearn to look after Ronaldo the way David Seaman, for example, looks like he might look after them. Yawn.

Ronaldo's unswerving petulance, his tantrums and bare-faced cheek, not to mention the fact that (almost unbelievably) he wears his baseball cap back to front makes for a heady formula that is well-nigh impossible to resist. His status as a bad boy has done him no harm either – from setting up the opposition and winking at the sidelines when he succeeds in so doing to smashing up Ferraris. Ronaldo is modern day football's rebel. And today they are few and far between.

To describe Ronaldo as attention seeking both on and off duty would be an understatement. The "I'm too sexy for it" ease with which he strips off his shirt is, of course, nothing short of legendary. Add to that the endless photographs of him in the briefest of swim shorts and outrageously camp skin-tight T-shirts, and this is clearly no shrinking violet. Ronaldo is a narcissist, but there are those who might argue he has quite a lot to be narcissistic about.

Phenomenal musculature aside – and more seriously – Ronaldo has for some time been the only footballer in Britain who might be described as a genius. Certainly, he is among the most exciting and gifted players of his time. He may be quite shockingly vain and even more badly behaved but he is also an athlete par excellence and that, inevitably, gives him sex appeal in spades.

Truth to tell, more recently, Ronaldo's formerly lithe torso has thickened somewhat in typically Mediterranean style, but to quibble over such minor inadequacies would simply be churlish. Whichever way one looks at it, this is the greatest personality British football has seen for decades. Match Of The Day will never be the same.