This week, TIME Magazine released its illustrious annual list of the ‘Most Influential People in the World,’ and for the fourth time in five years, a soccer player was included among the prominent names. Real Madrid striker, Cristiano Ronaldo, the 2013 Balon d’Or winner as the world’s greatest footballer, was one of 100 individuals selected by TIME and one of five athletes on the list. Ronaldo’s rise in prominence on the field has been nothing short of spectacular, as he continues to break records and assert his place among the world’s elite players. The Portuguese international has scored 49 goals for Madrid this season, including two breathtaking long distance strikes over the weekend against Osasuna and two more goals in the Champions League semifinal second leg against Bayern Munich. Above all, it is the consistency in Ronaldo’s excellence that has earned him the right to be grouped with the greatest players of all time at the age of 29. Commenting on TIME’s list, three-time World Cup winner Pelé noted that, “Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most influential athletes in sports today…I greatly respect his competitive mindset on the field, and it’s no surprise that he is currently considered the best football player in the world…I would like to encourage him to keep up the hard work and to continue to fuel the passion for the sport among today’s youth.”
While Ronaldo continues to cement his status among the all-time soccer greats, his latest achievement is a testament to the excellence and professionalism he shows consistently both on and off the field of play. This is largely a result of two of the qualities mentioned in the quote above: his competitive mindset and hard work. As a professional athlete, Ronaldo has become a role model for young soccer players all over the world by choice. He consistently focuses on the parts of his game he can control in order to make himself a better player.
As a young player, displaying excellence and professionalism on the field means that you hold yourself to high standards in training and games. It also involves focusing on what you can control, by bringing a consistently high work ethic, level of concentration, and commitment to your physical and mental preparation for competition. However, it is important to recognize that these habits can translate to other areas of your life as well, in terms of how you demonstrate commitment to your development as a person off the field, by working hard in the classroom and fulfilling your responsibilities at home. For players who aspire to compete at the collegiate level, it is especially important to develop a strong balance between your athletic and academic responsibilities in order to be able to handle the demands and rigors of the life of a student-athlete. Displaying professionalism and excellence off the field also means that you are respectful to the people with whom you interact on a regular basis. As a player, you should strive to be an ambassador and positive representative, not only of your club or high school team, but also of the game of soccer in general, through your high character and behavior in all contexts of your life. As Ronaldo aims to expand his soccer resume this season with a second Champions League title with as many clubs, his status as an “influential person” and role model for young players around the world will be determined by the excellence and professionalism he continues to display on a regular basis.