Updated: Oct 11, 2018
The shocking news in the soccer world this summer was Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid for
Juventus. Though rumors were swirling around for months that he was edging closer to the exit
door at the Bernabeu, I was still very surprised to see it happen. I mean, you can’t go any higher
than Madrid. I am sure any Barca fans reading this might strongly disagree, but it’s the truth. It’s
like being in Beverly Hills in LA. But it looks like Ronaldo is on a mission. I think when it’s all said
and done, he wants to look back at his career and say, “I conquered the top three leagues in
Europe”. There’s something about that kind of mentality. You can tell from how he plays to the
way he celebrates that he’s writing his own story; he’s starting from the end and filling in the
details. The end of that books says, I am the greatest of all time.
Of course Messi is also among the great players of this era, however his story is a bit different.
You see, both Messi and Ronaldo are gifted. They are both on another level compared to
everyone else. Messi is the more naturally gifted one out of the two. He does things effortlessly
and to be honest, is more enjoyable to watch. When I see some of the things Messi does I say
HOW? When I see some of things Ronaldo does, I say WOW. Let me explain.
HOW: I saw what he did, but how is that humanly possible? I can’t even understand what my
eyes just witnessed!
WOW: I saw what he did, I know how difficult it is to do, but I am amazed he can do that
consistently. I can do what he did, but it will take a ton of practice.
Get that picture?
Messi makes you quit hoping you can be like him and Ronaldo makes you quit while trying to be
like him. One is natural and the other is pure work ethic, dedication and drive on level 100!
But, if I had to choose between the two, I would pick Ronaldo. Why? Because there’s something
about his mentality that separates him from the rest. For Ronaldo, he had to earn his status. So
did Messi, but I don’t think he had to invest as much as Ronaldo did physically to get to his
In a recent Yahoo article, Ronaldo’s new teammate at Juventus, Douglas Costa said he’s
never met anyone like Ronaldo before. He said, "It is impossible to follow Cristiano Ronaldo in
training. When we arrive, he is already training, when we leave he is still training, I have never
seen a player like that". I read, similar stories from his former teammate, Tevez, at Manchester
United, who said, no matter what time he came to training in the morning Ronaldo was already
there. "When the training was set for 9 in the morning I arrived at 8 and he was already there.
Even if I arrived at 7:30 he was already there. I began to ask myself, ‘how can I get rid of this
guy?’ So one day I arrived at 6 but he was already there! Sleepy, but he was there.” Tevez also
went on to say this about Messi, “Lionel Messi, I never saw him in the gym, I’ve never seen him
train in the stops or do technical exercises. It is all natural to him, but on penalties he trained:
first he did not take them and now he shoots them all at the corner.”
So why do I prefer youth players to look up to Ronaldo? Because he’s part of the 99% of us that
have to work for what we desire. I want young players to develop their discipline, worth ethic,
dedication, perseverance, drive and commitment. There are not many Messi’s out there and
there can’t be, but we can create more Ronaldos. Nowadays, you hear a lot of players say
Messi is their favorite player and they want to play like him. I want players to wish to be like
Messi, but I hope to hear them want to work as hard as Ronaldo as well.
If every kid can adopt the Ronaldo mindset, not only will they be better players on the field, but
they will be better at life, period. The world can use more focused and disciplined kids.
Kokou Assigbe, Coaching Director at World Class Premier