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World’s richest footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has a heart of gold: think twice before you ridicule his new hairstyle

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Whether or not it is true that Cristiano Ronaldo’s new zig-zag patterned haircut is a gesture of solidarity for a young boy in Spain who has had life saving brain operation, it is worth paying tribute to the world’s No.1 footballer for his self-less contribution to charitable causes.

The haircut drew a range of reactions when he unveiled it ahead of Portugal’s 2-2 draw with the USA. But twitter claims that this was definitely not a fashion statement have highlighted how Ronaldo reacted swiftly to save the life of the youngster who was just 10 months old at the time.

Erik Ortiz Cruz  underwent brain surgery that was paid for by the Real Madrid superstar,  the youngster’s entire £50,000 medical bill underwritten by Ronaldo after being approached by the toddler’s parents with a request to donate a football shirt for a fund raising auction.


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Admittedly, it’s a drop in the ocean for a player who reportedly earns £580,000 a week and there have been some cynical reactions. But this is only the latest in a series of generous offers from the star who has a firm record of never speaking publicly about his many acts of charity.

As a sports reporter who has had the privilege of interviewing the Portuguese superstar I can tell you first hand that there is nothing fake about the former Manchester United hero’s personality.

Erik Ortiz Cruz on twitter

Erik Ortiz Cruz on twitter

ronaldo haircut re brain op kid

Cristiano Ronaldo must be crowned world footballer of the year, but Luis Suarez is currently best player on the planet

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The World Player of the Year for 2013 has to be Cristiano Ronaldo. Even FIFA president Sepp Blatter will surely concede that Real Madrid’s former Manchester United superstar has outshone Lionel Messi this time round . . . but the best player in the world on current form has to be Luis Suarez.

Do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting that Suarez should be handed the FIFA Ballon d’Or. But the truth is that the shortlisted trio of Ronaldo, Messi and Franck Ribery have all been eclipsed by Liverpool’s unbelievable Uruguayan during the month of December.

The breathtaking way Suarez has terrorised the Premier League since his return from his 10-match ban with 19 goals in 13 outings has been simply awesome. And his form in recent games has been second to none.

The way he dominated proceedings in the Merseysiders’ stunning 5-nil demolition of Tottenham at White Hart Lane last weekend with two goals and three assists was out of this world. Yesterday against Cardiff Suarez again oozed a menacing quality and maturity that has taken his game to a new extraordinary level.

Brendan Rodgers deserves enormous credit for the way he has stuck by and rehabilitated a player who so often in the past undermined his outstanding skill with a tendency to self-destruct at the slightest provocation. By handing the captain’s armband to Suarez before the Spurs game, the Liverpool boss has given a huge public vote of confidence to the player who looked destined to leave Anfield in the summer. And this time there is a feeling that his star man has finally grown up.

There was no excuse for racially abusing Patrice Evra or the bite that scarred Branislav Ivanovic, and he only made his disgraceful behaviour worse by failing to make immediate, unreserved and unequivocal apologies for either misdemeanour. But since his return from his latest punishment he has been a changed man who has conducted himself admirably while performing at the highest level .

As a lifelong Manchester United fan, I have enjoyed dominating our rivalry with Merseyside for the past two decades as much as the next Manc. My belief is that Liverpool are overachieving because of the heroics of their star man and I still believe David Moyes’ team can reel in our rivals in the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four. Even retaining the title is not out of reach.

And yet if I am 100 percent honest I can see a huge parallel between the impact Suarez may have on the future of Liverpool Football Club and the pivotal inspiration that Eric Cantona proved for United when Sir Alex Ferguson recruited and then stood by the talisman who provided the catalyst for an era of unbelievable success at the Theatre of Dreams.

Suarez is that good that he has the ability to have the same impact at Anfield as Cantona had at Old Trafford. The big question is  can the Merseysiders keep hold of their prize asset? We all know that contracts are not worth the paper they are written on when the likes of Real Madrid come calling with a world record transfer fee. And there is no question that both Madrid and their Spanish rivals Barcelona will increasingly have their eye on Suarez if he continues to produce the form that has elevated him to a new level this season.

Whether or not there is an escape clause in the new contract that Suarez signed this week, even the lure of £200,000 a week will pale into insignificance if Liverpool fail to present Suarez with Champions League football next season. And that effectively means it could be qualification or bust for Liverpool in their quest to build a new era of success.

In much the same way that the task grew harder with every passing season until United ended their  26-year wait to once again become champions of England, the pressure on Liverpool to achieve has grown year on year since their last League title in 1990. Rodgers has laid impressive foundations in his quest to make the breakthrough at Anfield that Ferguson managed at Old Trafford with the help of Cantona. But it will be back to the drawing board if Liverpool fail to keep hold of Suarez.

by John GubbaForget club loyalties, the truth is that had Chelsea or Arsenal managed to prize Suarez away from Liverpool the Premier League title would surely be heading for that club in May. The same goes for both Manchester clubs. Even Spurs would stand a chance of taking the title if they had the Uruguayan in their ranks.

Barring injury or the return of his self-destructive tendencies, as England will undoubtedly find out at the World Cup in Brazil in the summer, Suarez is a remarkable footballer with the world at his feet.


December 22nd, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Were you watching Mr Blatter? Ronaldo deserves to be crowned World No.1 after knocking out Ibrahimovic’s Swedes

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Who is the Greatest of them all? . . . Cristiano deserves 2013 Ballon d'Or

Who is the Greatest of them all? . . . Cristiano deserves 2013 Ballon d’Or


Ronaldo or Messi. Messi or Ronaldo. The debate over who is the best player in the world is never ending and the argument got personal when FIFA’s buffoon of a President Sepp Blatter recently delivered a tasteless putdown of Real Madrid’s former Manchester United superstar.

Confirming his preference for Messi, Blatter mocked the Madrid hero for having “more expenses for the hairdresser” than the Barcelona player when he made an address at the Oxford Union last month. It sparked a storm that has overshadowed the countdown to the vote for this year’s world player of the year.

Tonight, on the pitch, it was much anticipated Cristiano Ronaldo v Zlatan Ibrahimovic II . . . and the man from Portugal delivered one of the most spectacular statements ever in the quest to be crowned No.1 with a sensational one-man demolition of Sweden’s World Cup hopes.

In one of the most dramatic qualification play-off deciders in the history of the FIFA World Cup, we were treated to a gladiatorial showdown of the highest quality that will force many of the experts who have thus far  favoured Messi to reconsider who is the greatest of them all.

The talk in the game is that the Ballon d’Or voting – which was due to end last week – has been extended to the end of November, which means that Ronaldo’s latest extraordinary show could help him to the world title.

With a ticket to Brazil on the line, Portugal went to Sweden with the slender margin of a 1-0 lead from the first leg. Ronaldo, who scored the winner in Portugal,  struck yet again when he doubled his side’s lead with a 50th minute opening goal that ignited an astonishing duel with his outstanding Swedish counterpart.

Ibrahimovic responded with a stunning quickfire double in the 68th and 72 minutes that made it 2-2 on aggregate. The stage was set for a pulsating final half an hour in the battle for that precious place in the greatest football show on earth and Swedish fans sensed home advantage was destined to give them the edge.

But then came an even more spectacular double from Ronaldo to spark wild scenes of Portuguese celebration. Two goals in the space of three minutes delivered the knockout blow.

It meant the Portugal skipper had scored all four of his country’s goals in an epic shoot out. And with the statesman-like dignity so lacking in president Blatter, Ronaldo insisted his celebrations were not aimed at FIFA’s dictatorial leader who made it clear Messi gets his vote when he  spoke at the Oxford Union last month.

Ronaldo, who clearly believes he is now the undisputed No.1, said this after his match-winnning display against Sweden:: “I do not live my life obsessed with titles and do not have to show anything to anyone, because I have shown my worth, I’ve done 40/50 goals every season and it is not within the reach of anyone. I know what I am.”

In my humble opinion, not since the great Diego Maradona dragged Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup Final in Mexico has there been a footballing superhero so indispensable  to his national team.

Just as Ronaldo dragged Portugal into the 2012 European Championships and then all the way to the semi-finals, the golden boy has done it again by leading his countrymen all the way  to Brazil.

While Barcelona’s adopted Argentinian Lionel Messi has never quite reproduced his majestic artistry for his country, no such criticism can be aimed at  Madrid’s hero who has matched his Barca rival in La Liga. At club level there is little to choose between Messi and Ronaldo.

But on the world stage Ronaldo has surely done enough to claim the top prize.

On a night of high drama, lovers of the beautiful game will be thrilled to see France joining Portugal in the finals after their own sensational comeback from 2 goals down in the first leg against Ukraine with a thrilling 3-0 victory in Paris.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “A world cup without me is not worth waiting for.”


Spending millions in transfer market not only way: Belgian wonderkid Adnan Januzaj destined to become global superstar

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creating the same kind of buzz as Cristiano Ronaldo did at Theatre of Dreams

Januzaj: creating the same kind of buzz as Cristiano Ronaldo did in his early days at Theatre of Dreams


When we look back in years to come David Moyes’ first ever win at Old Trafford will be remembered for launching teenage sensation Adnan Januzaj on the road to superstardom.

The record books will show that Robin van Persie scored from the penalty spot to convert a debatable penalty and Wayne Rooney, his injured forehead protected by a padded scrumcap, completed a 2-0 win with a superb free-kick on the day £27 million signing Marouane Fellaini made his debut as a second half substitute.

But it was United’s other Belgian, wonderkid Januzaj who got the pulses racing when he came off the bench and made the kind of impact not seen at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo created similar excitement at the start of his United career.

Just 18 years old and one of the jewels in the legacy left by Sir Alex Ferguson, Januzaj displayed the full repertoire of his dazzling skills, quick feet and tireless running that have already made him a crowd favourite at Old Trafford.

Legendary United talent spotter Eric Harrison, one of the architects of United’s famous class of 1992 that launched the careers of David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and the Neville brothers, has already gone on record to predict  Januzay could be the next Ronaldo.

Harrison told the Manchester Evening News: ‘Januzaj is outstanding and I think he is similar to Cristiano Ronaldo. He can beat people and with Wilfried Zaha, I think there is some outstanding quality there.’

Comparisons with the Portuguese superstar have been evoked by an outstanding pre-season that included a sparkling display in the Rio Ferdinand testimonial. And today’s showing against Palace in front of a global television audience has created a real buzz.

Things in common with Ronaldo don’t end on the pitch. The pair also share the same birthday – February 5 – with Barcelona’s Neymar also born on that day. Another remarkable stat is that Januzaj’s Premier League debut comes 50 years to the date since George Best made his first appearance at Old Trafford on 14 September 1963 against West Brom.

There have been may young stars to grace the Theatre of Dreams and not every hot prospect lives up to all the hype and potential. But Januzaj looks like the real deal and the reality is that new Manchester United boss – unfairly targeted by the prophets of doom in the media who would love him to fail –  is a man with an embarrassment of riches.

Marouane Fellaini is going to be huge presence in midfield

Touch of steel: Marouane Fellaini is going to be huge presence in midfield

Wilfried Zaha is another kid capable of  becoming a world star alongside established youngsters like Rafael and Phil Jones. With the return of a re-invigorated Nani also on the cards, Rooney looking like a man on a mission in the countdown to the end of season World Cup and van Persie maturing into one of the best players on the planet the future looks as bright as ever at Manchester United.

And just for the record, I am also predicting that mop haired Fellaini is going to be the huge success that Moyes wants him to be. United have never found a player to fill the boots of Roy Keane and the new boy from Everton is a different animal. But once again the Red Devils boast a midfield general with a touch of steel who will frighten the life out of opponents – and he has bags of goals in his locker.

Why Cristiano Ronaldo would love to return to Manchester United

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When I met Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal a few weeks ago it was clear that his love for Manchester United still burns brightly –  so, take it from me, a dramatic return to Old Trafford will be no surprise if Real Madrid fans drive him away from the Bernabeu.

While filming his Portuguese team-mate Nani for a documentary I was producing for the Manchester United TV Channel, there were two key moments during our 12 day filming schedule when Ronaldo’s feelings for the Reds shone like a beacon.

The Portugal captain dismissed his national media as ‘freaks’ when they criticised his team for conceding three goals in a 5-3 win over minnows Iceland during their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. But his first  sight of me holding up the MUTV flag on my microphone brought an immediate smile and thumbs up that was genuinely affectionate.

Cristiano Ronaldo would love to return to Manchester united

It's all in the eyes . . . Cristiano Ronaldo would love to return to Manchester United

A couple of days later when I snatched a couple of questions during a press conference before his country’s showdown with Denmark, Ronaldo made it absolutely clear that Manchester United will always have a special place in his heart. It was not what he said but the unmistakable sparkle in his eyes when he spoke about United.

It was so clear that Helder Conduto, the match commentator for state broadcaster RTP Portugal turned to me and said: ” United are in his heart, there’s no question” the moment Ronaldo departed. ” One day he’d love to return to Manchester.”

A couple of weeks later, to mark Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25th anniversary as Manchester United manager, Ronaldo’s passionate tribute to the manager who turned him into a world star left no one in any doubt that he will jump at the chance to return to Old Trafford when the time is right.

The fact that Ronaldo was booed by Real fans despite scoring 108 goals in his first 111 games for Madrid has raised questions about whether or not his time at the club is drawing to an end. It will be a wrench to leave the club he supported as a boy, but no more than it was when he left United in an £80 million pound move in the summer of 2009.

It is a long time since United made a dramatic signing that took the world of football’s breath away. And the obstacles in the way of such a momentous transfer would make Ronaldo’s return one of the biggest transfer stories ever. So let’s be honest it really is a long shot – but if you ask me what I want for Christmas . . .

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Rising star Nani deserves to be shortlisted for FIFA’s top award

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Lionel Messi may be the favourite to win the 2011 Ballon D’Or and claim the title of the best player in the world for a third successive year – but it is testament to the progress of Portugal’s Nani that the Manchester United star is included in FIFA’s shortlist of 23.

Nani joins team-mate Wayne Rooney and Manchester City’s new hero Sergio Aguero in a list dominated by the best of Barcelona who have no fewer than eight players nominated. Former United star Cristiano Ronaldo is also included.

But it is no surprise to me that Nani has been elevated to such heights after spending the past month working on an upcoming documentary for MUTV on the kid from Cape Verde.

MUTV documentary will pay tribute to Nani-mania

MUTV documentary will pay tribute to Nani-mania


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The list will be reduced down to three on Dec 5 with the winner being announced in Zurich on Jan 9.

Player nominees: Eric Abidal (France), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Dani Alves (Brazil), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Nani (Portugal), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Gerard Pique (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Xavi (Spain).

Better than Ronaldo? There is something about Nani . . .

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Portugal's finest? Luis Nani is maturing into one of the world's best players

Portugal’s finest? Luis Nani is maturing into one of the world’s best players


Like it or not Luis Nani is going to be compared to Cristiano Ronaldo every time he does something special – and the way the 24-year-old Portuguese boy wonder is maturing into a world class performer that is going be a regular occurence.

The truth is Nani can do most things Ronaldo can do and then some. And the stats show he is a better team player than his fellow countryman was in his first 100 Premier League games for Manchester United . . . both scoring 19 times but Nani has nearly three times as many assists.

Nani does not like being compared to his former team-mate and you have to respect United’s current Portuguese superstar for wanting to be judged as an individual. He certainly deserves the right to be revered as one of the game’s outstanding talents.

100 up - and Nani's record is more than a match for Ronaldo

100 up – and Nani’s record is more than a match for Ronaldo. Special thanks to Sky Sports

Since marking his 100th Premier League game with an awesome strike in United’s 3-1 demolition of Chelsea, Nani unloaded another stunning strike that earned a point at Stoke City this evening. But it is his all round contribution that is really starting to get noticed. And his growing maturity is great news both for Manchester United and Portugal.

Watch out for upcoming news about my new film with Nani coming soon


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Comparisons between Ronaldo and Beckham will always be inevitable

Comparisons between Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham have always been inevitable


Both found fame wearing the red No.7 shirt at Manchester United. Both followed the trail to Real Madrid. And both have transcended their sport to become worldwide fashion icons and footballing divas.

But who is the greatest – England’s David Beckham or Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo?

Based on pure talent on the football pitch it is no contest . . .

Ronaldo became the world's most expensive footballer when he joined Real Madrid from Manchester United

Ronaldo became the world's most expensive footballer when he joined Real Madrid

Whether or not Ronaldo is currently the best player in the world can be challenged by Lionel Messi, but he certainly has been the No.1. Cristiano has it all. He can shoot, dribble, score with both feet and is outstanding in the air.

Ask yourself which player at their peak would you prefer in your team and it is not such a one-sided argument.

Becks is arguably the best crosser of the ball we have ever seen. His commitment and passion is never in doubt. He has scored some of the best and most important free-kicks at pivotal moments. And his effectiveness down the right wing was a potent weapon that could win any match in an instant.

The truth is they are two different players with very different qualities. But what they do have in common is the way they have fashioned their images to turn themselves into style icons with massive earning potential and a global following outside football.

Beckham back in the limelight after the birth of his daughter, Harper Seven

Beckham back in the limelight after the birth of his daughter, Harper Seven

It is a marketing man’s dream to see Becks and Ronaldo go head to head in Saturday’s World Football Challenge as the ex-England captain’s Los Angeles Galaxy side play host to his former club Real Madrid.

It is the first time Beckham has come up against Real since making the move from Spain to the United States in 2007.

It is only a friendly. But it is fascinating to see what the American public make of the showdown between the world’s most famous soccer divas.

Beckham’s iconic goal against Greece is a moment that no English fan will ever forget . . .



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As a professional film maker it never ceases to amaze me how content is king even when the video quality is shocking.  This montage was clearly produced by an amateur YouTuber and  is poor quality technically and 100% unofficial. But you will still enjoy the beauty of the action. That’s why it has had over 13 million views.

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Collect all 5 volumes of this great DVD collection

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How will United deal with the mejestic football played by Iniesta, Messi and Xavi?

How will United deal with the mejestic football played by Iniesta, Messi and Xavi?


Forget the FIFA World Cup Final. This is the big one. The Champions League Final. The biggest game on the planet bar none. And never has a game been more eagerly anticipated. The 2011 Final at Wembley on Saturday (May 28) could be the ultimate showpiece for The Beautiful Game. It will certainly draw one of the biggest TV audiences of all time – and my prediction is that this time we will be treated to a contest to match the hype and delight the purists.

There is no doubt it is absolutely the dream final. Between the two most exciting teams in world football, whose history and fans demand entertainment as well as glory. Fortune favours the bold and with both sides committed to goals and glamour the recipe for a classic is surely guaranteed.

Two years ago Barca triumphed when Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi scored the goals in a 2-0 win against a Manchester United side weighed down by a shocking contribution by Cristiano Ronaldo – playing his final game in a red shirt before his £80 million move to Real Madrid.

Hernandez and Rooney - United's unstoppable force up front

Hernandez and Rooney - United

But this time the Catalans know they face a much tougher challenge to their status as the World’s top ranked club. United have got better and better all season making the critics – who keep telling us this is not an outstanding team – look more and more ridiculous.

At times this season United have hit extraordinary heights to match any in the epic 25 year resign of the world’s greatest football manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The twin threat of a Wayne Rooney back to his glorious best and Mexican sensation Javier Hernandez is as good as it gets. Edwin Van Der Sar will be retiring as the world’s best goalkeeper and skipper Nemanja Vidic is an absolute rock alongside the elegance of Rio Ferdinand.

Sir Alex Ferguson aiming to get his hands on the Champions League trophy for a third time

Sir Alex Ferguson aiming to get his hands on the Champions League trophy for a third time

Ryan Giggs has never played better and his reinvention as a central midfield playmaker gives United an extra creative dimension that at times this season has mirrored the famous Barca carousel orchestrated by Andres Iniesta, Xavi and the incomparable Lionel Messi.

As David Beckham said earlier this week: “If anyone can beat Barcelona at their peak Man United can.” With the width offered by any combination of Antonio Valencia, Ji Sung Park, Nani, Patrice Evra and the Da Silva twins this United team has the ammunition to hit Barca where it hurts.

Barca are certainly not underestimating the Red Devils. “This Manchester United team is much more unpredictable without Cristiano Ronaldo,” says wing-back Davi Alves “They have formed a more balanced group and they are stronger than they were two years ago.” Striker David Villa added: “Ronaldo’s departure has liberated them. Many great players come and go and that has allowed them to remain at the top for so long.” Andres Iniesta belives United have “grown as a team”.

Pep Guardiola admires the strength of Man Utd

Pep Guardiola admires the strength of Man Utd

And coach Pep Guardiola – who watched in awe as United’s second string completed a staggering 6-1 aggregate win over Schalke in the semi-final – admits: “We have been looking at the 2009 game and they were better than us in the first half.

“The level is equal, they are strong, competitive and they can play with four or five different formations and they stay competitive. They are one of the best teams in the world, and not just this year. We are proud to be playing them.”

As Steve Bruce, a European Cup Winners’ Cup winner with the Red Devils against Barcelona 20 years ago, says, Sir Alex will “want to win the trophy the Manchester United way.” And Bruce predicts the Boss has a master plan that will confirm why he is the greatest: “If anyone can get it right on the night the great man can.”

Whoever lifts the trophy The Beautiful Game will be the winner if both sides come out without inhibition and a determination to show the world just how good they really are.


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2-goal hero Mark Hughes lifts the European Cup Winners' Cup after United's 2-1 win over Barcelona in 1991

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