Cristiano Ronaldo is exalted for a great many reasons. He’s also reviled and/or ridiculed for a few others, like his arrogance, his lack of sportsmanship, and his self-centeredness. One retired Colombian player is worried that a compatriot of his, James Rodríguez, has picked up a few too many of Ronaldo’s less savory traits by hanging out with the global superstar too much.
The former Colombia international in question, Faustino Asprilla, did not like a couple things he saw from James in Colombia’s 3-0 loss to Argentina a couple days ago. From ESPN FC:
“James is my friend and I love him a lot.
“But I can see that his friendship with Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid is damaging him.
“He now has the same gestures as Ronaldo when he doesn’t get the ball. Ronaldo makes gestures at everyone when he doesn’t get the ball, and James is doing the same with Colombia.”
Asprilla is referring to Ronaldo’s habit of communicating his frustration and anger at one of his teammates when the teammate fails to do something Ronaldo thought he should’ve. Generally, it involves Ronaldo making a run, a teammate failing to reward Ronaldo’s run with an accurate pass, and Ronaldo spinning around, howling, waving his hands every which way to show his teammate the kind of pass he wanted. It usually goes like this:
It is a fairly nasty little move that really only serves to make a teammate feel bad, but it’s not all that bad, either. Most everyone in soccer does this from time to time, usually during periods of high frustration; it’s just that Ronaldo does this more often than pretty much anyone else in the game. In moderation, this kind of showing-up of a teammate is understandable and quickly forgotten. Doing it all the time is how a player gets a rep as a bad teammate.
Asprilla noted James behaving with Ronaldoian petulance during one particular incident in Tuesday’s game, when James threw up his hands after Colombian defender Éder Balanta didn’t pass James the ball. In his comments, Asprilla warns of the dangers of a team’s star consistently being a dick:
“James needs to improve with his teammates because he is playing in a team with many youngsters, and nobody stands up to him.
“In another team, he would get a slap. In my team nobody would have stood for it.”
He added: “Everyone can have disagreements with their teammates, but to make such gestures when they do not pass you ball is the ugliest thing a player can do.
“It is what Cristiano Ronaldo does every week.”
That this criticism comes from Asprilla—who was and remains a famous wildman, who once was arrested for busting a couple shots from his gun into the air outside a Colombian nightclub, who not that long ago was arrested for allegedly firing a machine gun at a security checkpoint after the personnel wouldn’t let him past, who was known in his playing days as a hard partying playboy, who has posed nude for a number of magazines, and who once got himself kicked off the Colombian national team before a World Cup—is ... well, it’s something.
Asprilla’s message is clear: James, don’t be like Ronaldo. We’d like to second that notion, but also add another of our own: James, don’t be like Asprilla, either.