[OPINION] Of course I'm a Juventus fan...
Millions of football lovers around the world are all about to share the same lie: that they have actually always been Juventus supporters. LIES. People chop and change teams based on where their favourite players decide to call home. That’s a natural part of being a fan, I get it.
But I will make a statement upfront here: I am not going to become a Juventus fan because my sporting idol Cristiano Ronaldo has now decided to move to Turin.
There is a lot to love and hate about Cristiano. His ego, attitude and temper are just some of the things that turn a lot of people off. But they are also the same things that have made the scrawny boy from Madeira the biggest superstar in the world.
As with many footballing stories, he came from a poor background, watched his father suffer from alcoholism and at just 12 years old moved from his hometown of Funchal to mainland Portugal to pursue a footballing career and fulfil the promise he made to his mom about giving her a better life.
I grew up idolising Luis Figo, Rui Costa, Nuno Gomes and Joao Pinto, they were Portugal’s original 'Golden Generation'. But as early as 2004, there seemed to be a shifting of the guard.
Still a teenager, Ronaldo was called up to represent his country at Euro 2004. He scored his first international goal in a 2–1 group stage loss to eventual champions Greece. After converting his penalty in a shootout against England at the quarterfinal stage, he helped Portugal reach the final by scoring the opening goal in a 2–1 win over the Netherlands. He was featured in the team of the tournament at barely 19 years old. We were witnessing something special, even if the world wasn’t yet sure of it.
By this time he had been signed by Sir Alex Ferguson for £12.24 million, making him the most expensive teenager in English football history. His style, flare and good looks converted many into a Manchester United fan. Goals, titles and commercial success followed and United, at the time, conquered the world.
He once described his move to Real Madrid as his destiny and in 2009, he moved to the Santiago Bernabeu for a world record £80 million. And much like we had seen in Manchester, titles, goals and fans followed. He soon created an unspoken rivalry with Barcelona star Lionel Messi, and the two jointly lifted the Spanish league to the summit of world football. Almost instantly, Barca and Madrid were the two biggest commercial successes on the planet with millions of fans now hooked on La Liga. In 2010 alone, Madrid reportedly sold one million Ronaldo 7 jerseys.
Fast forward nine years, 438 appearances, 450 goals, 120 assists, 44 hat-tricks, 16 titles and five Ballon d’Ors later, this global phenomenon has decided to move on once again, this time to Juventus. The sale, albeit a surprising one based on the market style of not just Juve but Serie A in general, could be a masterstroke. As rumours of his arrival increased, the club’s share price soared from €665 million to €815 million, which technically is enough to finance the entire transfer.
No doubt, millions of fans will soon tell you that they have actually always liked Juventus and will soon be seen instagramming pictures of themselves in a Ronaldo 7 jersey, except this one will not be red or white, but will have black vertical stripes instead.
Cristiano, your heritage, work ethic, charity and exceptional talent has seen me follow every second of your career. I loved Manchester United and Real Madrid long before your arrivals, but with Juve, I cannot pretend I am a fan. This will be the first jersey I do not purchase with your name on it.
Marc Lewis is a senior sports reporter and host of Sports Talk. Follow him on Twitter @MarcLewisZA