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Ronaldo Speaks… Finally

About time, innit? I think this was nearly a good month and a half late, but it did come. Of course, it could be said that he knew, by now, there was no way of moving to Real Madrid and he had to lay it bare some time. However, what he did say here was quite easily the most interesting interview he’s ever given.

This is what I wanted to hear in the beginning. I never demanded loyalty from Ronaldo. I always knew he wanted to move to Real Madrid, but it was the manner in which he handled the situation that I was concerned about. And let’s get this out of the way first: he didn’t handle it well (and I am making the biggest of understatements.)

But his interview surprised a lot of us with his honesty. Whilst there is a good chance that his PR might be working really hard at mending broken bridges with the fans, a lot of the stuff he said seemed rather spontaneous.

The admission of guilt would stand out among the more prominent of his quotes. But what caught my attention was this:

People have to understand one thing: at the age of 18 I arrived at a dream club like Manchester United. It was a dream come true. But, even at that moment, I was thinking about playing in England for some years and then going to play in Spain. Even at that time I was thinking that way, and I always gave 100% everything. Why lie? I’m not going to be a hypocrite and say the opposite of what I think, like some others do. I said exactly what I thought: I have a dream of playing at Real and I thought it was time to move on. People can’t be upset about me fulfilling a childhood dream.

In a world of badge kissing and players expounding their love for one club before turning their back, this came as a breath of fresh air. He admitted to using United as a sort of a stepping stone and I applaud his honesty. I never expected loyalty as I’ve mentioned countless times earlier, but at least there is some consistency. The interview is full of juicy quotes so I urge you all to read it in it’s entirety.

But is this enough to change my opinion of him?

The answer to that is no. It’s easier to say it now, but I was prepared to hear similar remarks of arse-licking once it became rather apparent that he was going to stay for another season at least. An interview like this can’t change the summer of hurt. Whilst his remarks now are welcome, they have come very late. During this period, a lot of us have been dragged through what should have been a memorable summer.

He will show his commitment on the pitch — of that I have little doubt. But he needs to show the desire to fight for the shirt — not his desire to fight for Ronaldo and Ronaldo alone. I could be asking too much here, but I am not going to let an interview change my opinion of him overnight. I won’t boo him, because I don’t think that’s right. But I won’t love him like I love some other players. I have become a complete Rio Ferdinand fan but that was from the way he has conducted himself over the past couple of seasons. And it’s a sum of tangibles and intangibles that will help him earn my respect.

It’s a pity such a phenomenal player would struggle to become a United legend. I will reserve my judgement on Ronaldo indefinitely. I’ve said this previously and I will continue to stand by it: it will still take Ronaldo a Herculean effort to win my respect — like it even matters to him. But since some people were curious to know what I thought, I decided to document my thoughts once again.

At the moment, Ronaldo’s short term future is secure before Madrid’s sharks come a-circling in 2009. Meanwhile, our side is teeming with very promising Brazilians (Anderson, Possebon, Rafael and Fabio). What are the chances that one of them begin to start throwing cursive glances at Spain in about a couple of years?