Cristiano Ronaldo is proving at Euro 2020 that he is still soccer’s biggest star, on and off the field

Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has still got it. Getty/UEFA
  • At Euro 2020, Cristiano Ronaldo is proving he’s still the man, both on and off the field.
  • On Wednesday, the 36-year-old equaled the record for most international goals scored in a career.
  • He has also produced the dominant off-field story of the tournament with his distaste for Coca-Cola.
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Cristiano Ronaldo, one of soccer’s greatest ever superstars, is proving at Euro 2020 why he’s still the man, both on and off the field.

During Portugal’s 2-2 draw against France in its final group game on Wednesday evening, Ronaldo scored both his country’s goals, in the process adding another record to his already lengthy list of goal scoring achievements.

In scoring twice, Ronaldo moved alongside Iran’s Ali Daei to become the joint top goalscorer in international football history on 109 goals. One more and he’ll hold the record solo.

Despite turning 36 in February, Ronaldo’s performances so far in the tournament have proven no other star in world football attracts the attention he does. No player has played more minutes than him and only Poland’s Robert Lewandowski has taken more shots than the Portuguese great.

Perhaps most importantly, he’s also the tournament’s top scorer. Ronaldo has five goals in just three games, two more than anyone else. He’s also scored over 70% of Portugal’s total goals so far.

It is not only on the field that he has been making headlines. Off the field, he sparked perhaps the biggest story of the tournament so far – his dislike of Coca-Cola.

During a press conference prior to Portugal’s opening game, he moved two bottles of Coca-Cola from the desk in front of him before telling the crowd of journalists and the watching world to “drink water.”

The move became a media sensation, drawing gentle mockery from players, fans and coaches, and leading to speculation that Ronaldo had caused Coca-Cola’s market value to plummet by billions of dollars.

In reality, a fall in Coke’s share price on the day was more likely down to the drinks giant paying its shareholder dividend on the same day, but the fact that the move was even associated with Ronaldo showed the power of his brand.

The story around Ronaldo’s snub of Coke has stuck around too. More than a week later, on Wednesday evening, Ronaldo had a Coca-Cola bottle thrown at him by a fan.

Ronaldo is still doing it aged 36

Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring for Portugal in Euro 2020
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after one of his two goals against France at Euro 2020. Tibor Illyes – Pool/Getty Images

By the age of 36, many elite soccer stars have retired, or are winding down towards retirement, taking lucrative transfers away from Europe to China, the US, or Japan.

Ronaldo is not. He’s playing at the highest level, dominating his international team’s performances at one of the biggest tournaments on the planet.

It is testament to the Juventus player’s commitment to fitness that he is still playing 18 years after his debut with his national side.

His first taste of international fame came in Euro 2004, which Portugal hosted, when the then Manchester United player was part of the team that made it to the final only to be defeated by Greece.

Ronaldo would eventually achieve success in the tournament when Portugal defeated France 1-0 in the Euro 2016 final. Five years later and it seems Ronaldo’s hunger has not dropped.

There are plenty of stars taking part in Euro 2020 from Kylian Mbappé to Kevin de Bruyne to Gareth Bale, but none have the same pulling power as Ronaldo.

Even his great adversary Lionel Messi can not claim to be able to dominate headlines in the same way Ronaldo does.

He will now set his sights on a round of 16 meeting against Belgium, which takes place on June 26.