– Boria Majumdar
Sport is all about memories. Vignettes that stay with you and just become more and more real over time. These are memories, which as sports fans we will forever cherish. Not all are of success or achievement. Some could be inconsequential as well. But for the fan, these will always have a very special significance.
The Portugal Uruguay match was one such. I had last watched Cristiano Ronaldo some years earlier in the Champions League final. Real Madrid won 4-1 against Juventus and Ronaldo was one of the scorers. He was 5 years younger and was the toast of the football world.
While he still is, a real showstopper in every sense, he has courted more controversy than ever before leading into this world cup. Unattached to any club at the moment, Ronaldo seemed a man on a mission as his team played Uruguay at the Lusail stadium in front of 90k fans here in Doha. Be it the shoulder tap to set up a chance in the penalty box or the jump that distracted the goal keeper and led to the first Portuguese goal, CR7 was involved in it all through. And when he wasn’t passed the ball despite being in open space, his disappointment was palpable. He wanted to score and leave a mark. He knew that more than half the Portuguese fans had come for him. Most were wearing Ronaldo shirts. Some even doing the Siuu in the stands ahead of the game. Ronaldo was Portugal and more. For him the Lusail was his stage and everyone had come to see him perform.
While the goal was given to Bruno Fernandez and justly so, Ronaldo’s celebration and cry of joy soon after the goal had been scored said it all. It was a telling statement. One that crafted memories of a lifetime. His team beat Uruguay and are now in the last 16 with a game in hand. And for the legion of Ronaldo fans, it is time to book tickets for the Round of 16.
For us in the stands, it was important we consume him every second. Enjoy his presence in the middle. The run ins, falls, deft passes, every act of his made the spectacle what it was. We just needed to soak it all in. For these are memories one will live with. Ronaldo won’t be around in 2026 and will be missed. The joy in the crowd when his name was announced, the passion when he waved to the fans to get them going and finally the celebration of relief having avenged the 1-2 defeat in 2018, was evidence what he means to the football world. He was and is the pied piper who everyone loves to watch.
Yes Portugal beat Uruguay 2-0. Yes Bruno Fernandez scored a brace, his first ever in world cup history. But for many it was all about Ronaldo. His last dance. And the best thing is it continues. And is beautiful.