Ronaldo injustice: If goals are the most important thing, why isn’t he the best?

From a young age, when you first start to play on makeshift pitches with jumpers for goalposts, you become accustomed to hearing that goals are the most important thing in football.

Goals are worth their weight in gold. Players with an eye for goal are valued highly, and how often do goalscorers make the difference?


Just look at what Luis Suarez has brought to Atletico Madrid – Diego Simeone hasn’t made radical changes, but now he has a prolific finisher.

Cristiano Ronaldo this week became the top goalscorer in football history with 736 goals, adding to his titles of being the top goalscorer for Real Madrid, Portugal and in the Champions League.

Goals, goals, goals… and yet if goals are so vital, if not the be all and end all, in football, then why is the top goalscorer not considered the best player of all time?

Why do we elevate Lionel Messi to the status of the four footballing greats – Alfredo Di Stefano, Pele, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff – yet Cristiano Ronaldo is not talked about in that conversation.

Professional football is not played to make friends, and Cristiano is certainly not the friendliest of players, often coming across as selfish and vain.


A figure with such self-confidence that it borders on presupposing is never likely to be a people’s hero, as we are easier drawn to humble losers.

Also counting against Cristiano is his style, seen as power and strength rather than class and finesse.

Physical attributes are vital in the modern game, of course, and no one in the business will tell you Cristiano doesn’t also possess great quality.

And yet, still, Cristiano is the greatest goalscorer of all time, which, in any other sport, would ensure him a seat at the table of the greatest.

Football, after all, is all about goals, isn’t it? This isn’t a personality contest, which his many critics often seem to forget.

Real Madrid, incidentally, congratulated Cristiano on his world record, an achievement which perhaps highlights an error in judgement in moving him on when they did.

Even if we take it as read that neither won the divorce – Cristiano, like Real Madrid, has failed to lift the Champions League since they parted – it’s surely clear that Los Blancos were the losers, as sometimes greatness cannot be bought.