I am sure the generation of 80s and 90s have not forgotten this classic Derby on Valentine’s Day in 2004.

 

A red card for Gary Neville. Manchester United went 2-0 up with just 10-men. Paul Scholes would score. Ruud Van Nistelrooy scored twice and hit the headlines.

But a 19-year old had been at the center of everything. He dribbled on both the flanks. Ran like a Hare. Provided assists. Won the ball back like a holding midfielder. And he scored the third goal to make it impossible for Manchester City to bounce back.

The high voltage game ended 4-2 and that man Cristiano Ronaldo sent a message, he had set foot in world football to stay with dignity, pide and in some style.

At that point of time, I could realize, Lionel Messi, about whom I came to know via Sports Star Magazine and ESPN sports shows, would certainly, create a lot of hype in the next five years and firmly believed that a Brazilian would outshine him.

But well, it did not happen. Since 2006, no Brazilians lived up to the expectations. Kaka’s rise to the top was a short one. Robinho failed. Adriano was lost. And the generation of Neymar could not deliver the way it was expected.

It would be Cristiano Ronaldo, a Portuguese, who would challenge the hype of Messi and reach the top.

A Ronaldo did arrive, but it was not from Brazil.

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