Former Portugal international Paulo Futre says Cristiano Ronaldo is not universally loved in their home country, with some Portuguese people hoping Lionel Messi wins the 2016 Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo was welcomed back by his old team Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League on Tuesday as his current side Real Madrid won 2-1 at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, with a special prematch ceremony laid on for a player who spent six years at the Portuguese club as a teenager.
Roanldo, a three-time Ballon d’Or winner in the past, captained Portugal to victory at Euro 2016, while in January 2014 he was made a “Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry” by his country’s president Anibal Cavaco Silva in an official ceremony at the Belem Palace in Lisbon.
But speaking to El Larguero, Futre, who also played for Sporting, said that Ronaldo had “many enemies” in his own country, including some who would prefer to see him beaten by Barcelona and Argentina star Messi when it comes to individual awards.
“Cristiano is Portuguese, he has done everything, is a European champion,” Futre said. “But he has many enemies there — for the way he is. He is very direct, and creates many enemies in his own country.
“There was a time when many people used to chant ‘Messi, Messi, Messi’ outside the Portugal team hotel. Which was shameful. Without doubt there are people in Portugal who want Messi to win the Ballon d’Or. This is something very Portuguese.”
Futre said that some people still have a problem with how Ronaldo carries himself on and off the pitch.
And as a former Atletico Madrid player, Futre personally did not enjoy the way Ronaldo celebrated scoring in Madrid’s 3-0 win at the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Saturday.
“The things he says sometimes after games, and his attitude…” Future said. “What he did at the Calderon — he might be a bit more relaxed, but we saw how Cristiano is. He has so much experience at this stage.
“When he is criticised most at away grounds, that is when he is most motivated. But in any case he is now 31. I understand it is a derbi and it is always more heated. I myself heard a lot what he hears when he goes to away grounds, about being Portuguese.”
Futre said he would find it hard to choose between Ronaldo and Atletico and France forward Antoine Griezmann for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
“After the season [Griezmann] had, he deserves it without a doubt,” he said. “But then Cristiano too, I believe it will be one or the other. I believe that Messi, this year, is behind the two of them. Over recent years, it depends on the moment who is the best between Messi and Cristiano.”