Cristiano Ronaldo has finally earned the adoration of the Bernabeu, says Graham Hunter
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has finally earned the adoration of the fans, says Graham Hunter.
Last Updated: 13/02/13 9:37am
The Portugal winger was in typically devastating form in racking up a hat-trick that secured an emphatic 4-1 home victory over Sevilla on Sunday - and the Bernabeu faithful saluted their hero.
The relationship between Ronaldo, 28, and the Real supporters has not always been so rosy, and despite averaging more than a goal-a-game since joining from Manchester United in 2009 for £80m, Ronaldo has often felt at odds with the fans.
But as he continues to shoulder the burden of expectation which, with La Liga champions trailing arch-rivals Barcelona by a massive 16 points appears restricted to the Champions League, Ronaldo himself admitted a noticeable thaw in relations.
Hunter told Revista of the mood among Real fans: "The first thing to say is they've really enjoyed that Ronaldo is rising in the face of adversity. When the team isn't playing well, when he's carrying little niggles, he still seems to produce more.
"The second thing worth noting is the adoration from the Bernabeu towards Ronaldo now. Ronaldo's also been talking about it saying he noticed the change, even during the games away from home.
"The way the Bernabeu has fallen in love with him has caught the attention of the media and I think, given that he's always admitted he wants to be loved, it's inspiring him.
"I think there's been a sense of complacency that's quite understable because the Real Madrid aficionados, who go there decade after decade, genuinely believe it's the biggest club in the world. When you look at the trophies, you can't say that's nonsense.
"They began to think that Ronaldo was grateful to be there and that it didn't matter how they treated him - I think the prospect of losing him has woken them up and they're now encouraging him to perform better and to stay. It's a nice synchronicity between fans and star."
Ronaldo's current deal expires in 2015 - and Revista regular Guillem Balague is certain that Bernabeu officials are already preparing to launch a committed bid to extend his stay.
Balague said:"What's quite clear is that Ronaldo is the one who's going to decide what's going to happen with his future, and he insists that at the moment he doesn't want to hear about a new contract.
"Real Madrid are saying 'allow us to convince you' and that means there are going to be meetings in March between Real and (Ronaldo's agent) Jorge Mendes, who will go and say 'what are you offering? Not enough, not enough!'
"The situation is that Ronaldo might say 'I don't want to renew' and Real Madrid will say they want to build their future around him."
Former Spain international defender Marcelino highlighted the strengths of the world's most famous footballer, adding: "He's a freak of nature.
"He's so strong and powerful and a superb athlete. We've seen runs from him before and not only can he counter attack, he can finish.
"He gets there before the guys who are running with him in his counter-attack. It's just amazing."