Why admiring the best is a good thing and why falling in love with the greats puts you in the right path to become a great.
I think this so interesting; the looking up to a hero, admiring the best in the world, having someone to set the bar for you throughout your career. All these can either hinder your production or excel you into the ranks of the greats, depending on whether you hold in high regards the right person and you use your time to work to reach them, not just use your time to meet them.
“For me, Ronaldo is the greatest. Over the past ten years, he was as Pelé. There was nobody like him. No one has influenced both the football and the players who emerged as Ronaldo. When he stopped, it will be great as Pelé.” – Zlatan
Case in point for me has to be Zlatan Ibrahimović’s love for the one-and-only, the greatest number 9 in history, Il Fenomeno, Ronaldo. I bring up Ronaldo in everyday football chats very often, just as much as I talk about Mike Tyson or Novak Djokovic during chats in their respective sports, and one thing I cannot stand is when the first thing I hear after I bring up Ronaldo is “Cristiano?” There is only one Ronaldo among the greatest ever, and although his World Cup goal scoring record was broken this year, he is still among the best starting 11 in history, not only because of the number of goals he has scored but because of his game, his creativity, speed, movement, power, knowledge of the sport, etc. Ronaldo has won 13 titles at club level playing for teams like Barcelona, Inter, Real Madrid, Milan, and Corinthians, as well as winning two World Cups (1994, 2002) and two Copa Américas (1997, 1999) with Brazil, and he is still one of only three men to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times or more, along with two others who are in my best starting 11 in history, Lionel Messi and Zinedine Zidane. So, when people ask me to clarify who I’m speaking of, I quickly reply, “Cristiano who?”
Someone who I know shares my views is the Swede, Zlatan Ibrahimović, who, although coming from a country with little football background, has made a name for himself and has brought his country into world view, and it all started with this image. While Ronaldo was in his prime, winning the Ballon d’Or, Zlatan was just starting his professional career at Malmö and becoming a star at Ajax. In the image we see a young Zlatan, donning his Malmö kit, and admiring all that is Ronaldo: poster of Ronaldo dominating with the Brazilian jersey, a montage of Ronaldo in the blugrana of Barcelona on his computer background, and a magazine with updates of Ronaldo breaking nets in the Inter jersey. Now, I’m sure there were millions of little Brazilian kids’ rooms with Ronaldo plastered all over, and sure, probably somewhere in those millions of Brazilians was a little Neymar Jr. admiring a national hero, but I don’t think anyone used these feelings to his advantage quite like Zlatan. With a childlike admiration in his smile, in a humble room that would make Zlatan laugh today, he looked up to the best because he wanted to become the best. Not only did he fall in love with Ronaldo as a child because Ronaldo was the biggest star in the sport, he fell in love with Ronaldo because he knew he could learn from him, he knew that if he wanted to be the best he had to learn the best.
“There will never, in my view, be a better player than him.” – Zlatan
Today I see very little of this attitude. I see many kids looking up to stars, athletes, and other professionals, but not in the right light. I see many kids with posters all over their walls, stickers on their notebooks, and more, but if you talk to these kids, they say they love these stars and want to be just like them, the problem is, they spend too much time putting posters up and staring at them with starry eyes, and not enough time trying to find how they can learn from them, how they can not just become like them, but become what they have become, by hard work. I truly respect someone like Zlatan, a young boy from Sweden, who took a love for a sport and a love for the best player and turned that into a passion, not only by holding Ronaldo up on a pedestal as his hero, but as his teacher, as his role model. It’s one thing to have a star you love and praise, it’s another to use them as a role model and mimic their hard work, not just their looks and their goals.
We should all look up to Zlatan as a role model for how he took this love for a player and worked hard to become what he has become. Now Zlatan, at age 33, is still scoring some of the most exciting goals in any league because he learned from one of the best goal scorer and one of the most creative goal scorer in the history of the sport, and not only wanted to be like him, but wanted to work hard like him as well. We should learn from Zlatan, because Zlatan knows.
– Nahuel F.A.
P.S. This video is what stemmed my interest in this subject. From a match between Inter and Milan, we see Zlatan truly admiring Ronaldo before the whistle blows. Slightly humorous, this almost resembles a dude eyeing some girl at the bar, with “love at first sight” written all over the look, even winking a bit at the Brazilian star. Zlatan kind of creeps Ronaldo out in the way he watches and admires. It’s amazing.