One Team, or Hopping Through Several Teams: Does it Really Matter?
Ronaldo, the soccer player just moved from Real Madrid to Juventus. While at Real Madrid and in most recent history, he won just about every championship that was available, helped Real Madrid to three Champions League titles in four years.
Prior to joining Real Madrid, Ronaldo was with Manchester United, helped the club win just about every championship possible between 2003 and 2009. With his latest move, Juventus becomes Ronaldo’s third stop since his move to Manchester United in 2003. Age limits barring, though not currently showing, the expectation is that Ronaldo will win championships with Juventus.
Lionel Messi has been with Barcelona his entire soccer career, arguably has been just as successful as Ronaldo. Messi had a hold on the Ballon D’or award — the award given to the best soccer player every year — for several years before Ronaldo broke through the well advertised ‘Messi barrier’ and won a couple for himself.
We have then two great soccer players. One, Ronaldo keeps on hopping around (figuratively, and on two human legs I might add lest I be misunderstood) and achieving phenomenal success. The other, Messi has stayed with one club all his career, has achieved tremendous success.
One may ask then, is Messi afraid he may not be as successful if he moves, or is Ronaldo full of himself?
The answers of course are No and No. Messi is a quintessential team player. His success requires a soccer team that focuses on teamwork. Barcelona plays a fluid soccer style — attacking midfielders and strikers almost are indistinguishable from one another. In order for Messi to successfully transition from Barcelona to another club, he needs the right kind of team mates. There are very few teams that have conditions in place for such a move. Even Barcelona struggled at times in past. Consider that for some years, Barcelona underperformed, with lots of sports pundits crying Iniesta was the problem. Turned out Iniesta was not the problem. Turned out Messi needed another layer of help, Luis Suarez for Barcelona to make the most of Messi’s skills. Messi staying at Barcelona all of his career?
Could happen and could be right.
Ronaldo is the quintessential striker. He is a team player, but he is as selfish as strikers can be. But then selfishness in sense of self belief that a striker always can place the ball in the back of the net whenever opportunity presents itself is critical for success as a striker. While strikers such as Messi function best within a fluid teamwork style, Ronaldo is a striker through and through. He lives only to score goals, meaning he adapts to any team only in context of opportunities for scoring goals. In his heyday, Rooney would hustle with his team in the midfield or defense as necessary. Currently, Lukaku switches to attacking midfielder roles with flair and good attitude. Ronaldo, just get the ball to him so he can score. Ronaldo is not full of himself, he just has learnt one thing well, which is, conditional on a coach’s schemes and strategies, how best to help his team score goals.
This is all Ronaldo cares about.
But then, a soccer team wins soccer games by scoring more goals than the opposition. Like him or not, Ronaldo’s perspective on his place within teams aligns perfectly with coachs’ and teams’ objectives.
So then, one soccer player plays great on several teams because he cares only about his role on the team. Another soccer player plays great on the same team within a team based style for about just as long. Guess we call it even.
It is not how many teams on which we play that matters, rather it is the extent to which we are known for our contributions on any one team, or on several teams that is source of greatness.
Ronaldo moves from team to team because he does the exact same thing everywhere, which is figure out how to score goals. Messi has stayed on the same team all his career because the club is committed to securing the right pieces for his success. In either case, both are known for something, and the something, the tangible works, keeps them in one place, or keeps them hopping. To be known for something then is more important than either of staying on one team, or hopping from team to team.