Ronaldo should take a hint from Jeter and Konerko


By Dan Escalona

American sports fans love their athletes to be loyal.

This explains why most NBA fans admonished LeBron for initially leaving the Cavaliers for the Heat. 

This also explains why baseball fans and the sports world as a whole have hailed Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko for staying in the same city for virtually their entire careers.

Athletes who stick out their careers with the same team in the same city, through thick and thin, are universally admired for their loyalty in our sporting culture.

That brings us to Cristiano Ronaldo and the recent rumors regarding his possible return to Manchester United — the club where he first emerged as a star.

This rumor began spreading in recent weeks when Ronaldo confirmed he would be open to a possible return to United somewhere down the line. 

These rumors may be closer to fact, given that former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson recently reached out to the Portuguese striker in an attempt to persuade him. The other day, in a classic sign of desperation, United supporters flew a banner begging Ronaldo to “come home” at Real Madrid’s recent away match.

For obvious reasons, Red Devil nation would stop at nothing short of seeing one of this generation’s greatest players step out on the grounds of Old Trafford donning Man U red.

That said, there is no reason why Ronaldo should consider leaving the ideal situation he finds himself in Madrid for uncharted territory in Manchester. 

He is still very much in his prime, has loads of talent around him and has a front office willing to shell out the cash to continually restock the roster. 

Plus, his career at a club in a city that adores him can reach legendary status as one of the all-time greats in Real Madrid and soccer history. Ronaldo can finish out the prime of his career, compiling accolade after accolade — without tarnishing his image as a sellout for returning to United.

There is really nothing for him to gain from a return to his old team, anyway. He has a massive salary to begin with and has already led United to Premier League and Champions League to glory. 

The broader takeaway from these rumors for every sports fan should be the shortage of team loyalty that currently exists in European soccer. Sure, there are some that have called one club home their entire careers (Steven Gerrard at Liverpool and Francesco Totti at Roma), but that those players are the exception not the rule. 

In a sport where money largely decides where players go, loyalty is hard to come by when clubs owned by Arab sheiks and Russian oligarchs complete record transfers on the daily. Too many players are more willing to chase larger contracts and bigger clubs than to stay in one place. Big money has turned some of the world’s top talent into glorified mercenaries.

It would be a breath of fresh air for Cristiano Ronaldo to buck the trend, and finish out the prime of his career in Madrid. He will likely be all the more admired by the soccer community for doing so, and his legend will grow exponentially as well.

CR7 would be wise to take a hint from Derek Jeter and Paul Konerko. If there is any quality that makes an athlete that much more respected and iconic, it is loyalty. 

Jeter and Konerko become almost mythic figures in the New York and Chicago sporting landscapes. They opted for a commitment to a city, to an organization and to the fans when both easily could have chased larger contracts.

Ronaldo may have already showed some disloyalty by leaving Manchester United a few years back, so why undermine his image even more at Real Madrid? All he’s got to do now is rebuff the advances of Manchester United, and reaffirm his commitment to Madrid.

Soccer will be stronger for it.

Dan is a junior is Media. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @danescalona77.