Cristiano Ronaldo won his fifth Ballon d’Or Thursday night, drawing level with Lionel Messi for the most all time. Afterward Ronaldo dominated international headlines by saying that he is “the best player in history” and that no one is “more complete” than himself.
On Friday Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte discussed the prestigious honor in depth, saying why one of his players, N’Golo Kante, is deserving but won’t like ever achieve it. Conte also articulated how another one of his star men, Eden Hazard, could claim the top individual trophy, but only if he can develop the “sacred fire” that Ronaldo and Messi possess.
Yes, the sacred fire. I’ll let the Chelsea boss himself explain what exactly that is.
“When you see these players you see a hunger in every moment. Score one goal they want to score the second, score second want to score the third. They are very hungry and for that reason they are special. They want to win,” Conte said.
“It is not important if last season Ronaldo won. Now if you ask him or Messi they are going to play another World Cup with the same hunger because they have hunger.They want to win, win, win and continue. The past is not important for these players. For these reasons I have great, great respect for them, because to stay at that level you have to work very hard.”
“I like to call it a sacred fire. When you have it inside you, the will to win every game to score goals. Every one of us, we have this sacred fire and we have to find the right solution to improve it.
“At this level you must have this type of situation. Then the flame can be big or little. When you have an inferno it means you are like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar.”
When asked if Eden Hazard can reach this level, Conte responded:
“He is an important player for us and during games he can make the difference for us. This is important. But at the same time I am his coach and I try to push him, but not only him. I push all of my players to do their best in training.”
“Eden has right characteristics to try to fight with these giants. He has the characteristics, so then he has to try to do this, and to improve his position in this table in the next year. He has the potential to do this but it is not simple to overcome this.”
Getting back to Ronaldo, you can’t truly appreciate the massive ego on display in what he said, unless you take in the entire quote in all its braggadocio glory.
The snippet, headline short sentence just does not do it justice.
“No other player has won as many individual trophies as me. And I’m not only talking here about the Ballon d’Or,” Ronaldo said. “That says something, no?
“It’s not only the work that I’m doing in the gym, like people think. It’s a combination of many things. Legends like Floyd Mayweather or LeBron James, they didn’t get to this level of perfection by chance. It must be many factors coming together. To be at the top and stay there, you must always have more talent than others,” he continued.
“You know, I respect everyone’s preferences. But I don’t see anyone better than me. I always thought that. No other footballer does things that I am not capable of doing myself. But I see that I do things that others can’t do. There’s no player more complete than me.
“I play well with two feet, I’m fast, powerful, good with headers, I score goals, I deliver assists. People have the right to prefer Neymar or Messi, but I insist: There is no one more complete than me.”
“You will go and say that I have a big head, but when you’re at the top, it’s normal that you’re criticized…I am the best player in history, in both good and bad times.”
He’s spot on in saying that in order to become the best of the best, you have to also possess the self-confidence to match. When we point out how outsized his ego is, we’re not doing so as a pejorative, it’s just a matter of fact.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.
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