It is February 2035. A freshly-turned 50 year old Cristiano Ronaldo has finally breached the realms of human footballing ability. There is no question any more: Lionel who?
Messi, in fact, realised the inevitability of his ultimate inferiority in the battle for recognition as the greatest footballer of all time after Ronaldo’s breath-taking goal against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final of 2018. He hung up his boots shortly afterwards, retiring to his childhood sweetheart wife and 17 kids with a seceding smile.
At the time, the footballing world revered Ronaldo’s finish as one of the greatest of his 649-goal career. It went mad. Even the big man himself joined in the adulation, conceding that it probably was his best ever. Many were quick to also point out pictures that showed Ronaldo in training the day before, in precisely the same mid-air position as he was when he struck his historical bicycle kick in Turin, right foot practically in orbit. Practise, evidently, makes perfect.
The rousing applause of the opposition Juventus fans was surely apt indication of what was to come.
As Ronaldo assertively stamped his mark on the dizzying heights of footballing preeminence (which, as it turns out, is located 8ft in the air above the Turin turf) and with Messi waning into blissful obscurity, the path to footballing world domination was unguarded.
He had already initiated his eugenic breeding programme long before this defining moment with the birth of his first son, Cristiano Jr (obviously). Young Cristiano soon rose to dominate his own generation of footballers as his father grew older – and better – into his 40s. He swiftly climbed to the top of the emerging pile, only ever surpassed by one: Cristiano Sr.
And that was a recurring pattern with Ronaldo’s further children: Cris, Cristi, Cristian, Ron, Ronnie and Ronald to name but a few. By the turn of the 2030s, the transcendent Ronaldo Sr had finally assembled his team.
After climbing to the uppermost echelons of club football, Ronaldo FC qualified to play on the international stage under the legislation of the new governing body of football: the Ronaldo Federation, or RonFed. And last year, the newly inaugurated nation of Ronaldania won the 25th World Cup, the footballing autocrat scoring the winner from his own goal line with a nonchalant back heel.
And with that, the ascension was complete. As the tenth Ronaldo goal smashed another hole through the Russian net (the team of Putins were finalists for the fifth consecutive time after their first host tournament in 2018), Ronaldo Sr’s work was done. With arms spread wide, the incandescent Ronaldo (who had gotten only MORE physically attractive and marketable with age) rose to the sky in a streak of sacred light.
Or, maybe that was just a dream I had.
Hold on a second. “‘Playstation goal’ talk of the world”? I have to see this…