Cristiano Ronaldo left the World Cup in tears after Portugal’s semi-final defeat against France – and it is not a wild stab in the dark to suggest sympathy was in very short supply.
Munich’s Allianz Arena delivered an early verdict on Manchester United winger Ronaldo and his role as English football’s new villain.
Ronaldo’s first touch in the opening seconds was greeted with a shattering and genuinely shocking chorus of jeers from all parts of a 66,000 capacity crowd.
England supporters in possession of tickets, having hoped to watch their own team in the semi-final, were presumably the prime movers, but the sound spread like a Mexican wave around the stadium.
This was not just English fans turning on Ronaldo – France fans happily joined in, and many other nations represented could also have played their part.
And it continued, long and loud throughout a first half in which Ronaldo showed great strength of character to emerge as the game’s outstanding player.
It was a remarkable event, not just because it appeared to have given England and France rare sporting unity in their contempt for Ronaldo.
The strength of feeling against Ronaldo was tangible, and just a little exaggerated when set against the reason for the crowd’s reaction.
Ronaldo’s crime was to demand even closer attention from referee Horacio Elizondo to Wayne Rooney’s stamp on Ricardo Carvalho’s “tomatoes“, as one Portuguese newspaper so delicately put it, in their quarter-final meeting.
And his status was confirmed by a conspiratorial wink to team-mates that appeared to suggest he felt it was a case of “job done” as his Old Trafford team-mate took the long walk in Gelsenkirchen.
Ronaldo’s subsequent winning penalty hardly helped his popularity, and contributed to the hysteria he has been subjected to since.
He certainly paid for it in Munich, his pain only increased by France’s 1-0 win.
And it casts a massive cloud over Ronaldo’s Manchester United future……
After all, how can he look Rooney in the eye and stand alongside him in battle for United after helping wreck his colleague’s World Cup?
The intervention has actually enabled some observers to overlook Rooney’s stupidity in the whole affair.