Gareth Bale vs Cristiano Ronaldo: How did the two Real Madrid stars perform for their countries this week? – Andy Brassell
We were still in the first ten minutes of Friday’s game when it started. “You’re just a cheap Gareth Bale,” started the song from the Windsor Park stands, followed by the world-famous refrain of “Messi! Messi!”
Quite apart from piling the hopes of his nation squarely on his shoulders, international week is nothing like a week off
Yet it must, quite frankly, be water off a duck’s back by now. He was booed on his last visit to Belfast too – a friendly, when he was still a Manchester United player, back in November 2005 – and the heckling has only escalated at every stop of his world tour since.
When Portugal travelled to Bosnia-Herzegovina for a European Championship play-off in November 2011, Ronaldo was greeted by locals brandishing Barcelona flags at Sarajevo airport.
In a behind-closed-doors training session in Zenica later the same day, some local kids scaled the stadium fences to intrude and chant ‘Messi!’ at him. Ronaldo nonchalantly give the urchins the middle finger, an image that made the covers of Portugal’s sports newspapers on the following day.