Cristiano Ronaldo and the computer game hullabaloo


Ronaldo, FIFA18, FIFA, performance, world class
Lessons in business from Cristiano Ronaldo


Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world’s most successful footballers, is to adorn the cover of the new Fifa computer game.

So what, right?

At 32 years of age, the guy has played 409 league matches for some of football’s most competitive teams, scored 372 goals (that’s a whopping 0.79 goals per match), and has won the English Premier League, La Liga, and Uefa Champions League… To name but a few.

Oh, and there’s also the small matter of winning football’s Ballon d’Or (the sporting equivalent to Leonardo finally getting his ‘best actor’ Oscar) not once, not twice, but four times.

Reading through some of his stats, you might ask why it’s taken this long for the good folks at EA Sports to decide to feature him on the cover.

And yet, as evidenced by the reaction to his unveiling as the new cover star, not everyone agrees. In fact, some fans are even threatening to boycott the game in protest over Ronaldo’s appearance on the cover.

Scanning through the comments on Twitter, a lot of this animosity stems from either people deciding they don’t like Ronaldo as a person, or the fact he plays for Real Madrid (a fierce rival of Barcelona for many years with the teams embodying some not insignificant political undertones).

I’m not going to get political here (I know my limits) but I put it to you that we should be able to celebrate the ability of a phenomenal footballer on the cover of a (shock horror) football game – regardless of politics, rival teams, or personal preference.

Cristiano Ronaldo, regardless of what you think of him off the pitch (and even then, I ask you, how well do you know him off the pitch?) is a phenomenal footballer. Full stop.

He is the catalyst for success in the current Real Madrid team. Just as Lionel Messi (Fifa’s cover man in 2015) is for Barcelona, George Best was for Manchester United and Pele was for the Brazilian national team. That’s not to say they could be successful alone, without their team they would be nothing, but even the highest quality bread flour needs a sprinkling of yeast to make it rise.

I believe we as business people can learn a lot from players like Cristiano Ronaldo (aside from how to get a six pack and score a free kick from 35 yards…).

World class footballers are not world class by accident. It’s not genetic, it’s not luck. World class players are world class because they work hard, focus on what they want to achieve and, crucially, act on information to improve their performance.

Ronaldo is a master of continuous improvement. As a football fan, and despite him never playing for my favourite club, I’ve had the pleasure of watching him progress into the player he is today. From an energetic, enthusiastic but often over-exuberant 17-year-old to an intelligent, footballing wizard who can command matches and be the difference between a team winning or losing.

Ronaldo has an unyielding desire to succeed. He gathers as much information as he can access about his footballing ability, his match performances, his psychological and physical attributes and he analyses and acts on each detail to improve.

Advice from coaches, an understanding of the flight of the ball, the contact from his boot, the movement of his body during free kicks, the power in his muscles, the tactical decisions of defenders… the list goes on.

This information has been gathered and applied to his game during the past 15 years, and continues to be refined and honed. Cristiano Ronaldo understands that it’s not enough to be good, or even the best, for a moment in time. To be truly world class, excellence must be sustained and what is defined as ‘excellent’ is constantly evolving. Therefore, so must Ronaldo.

We should be applying this same ethos to our businesses. Collecting, processing and analysing useful information to provide a better understanding of our operation, our people, what makes them tick, how our customers feel, what’s important to them… the list goes on.

Without that thirst for knowledge and self-improvement, Cristiano Ronaldo would barely have progressed from that impulsive 17-year-old with a bad haircut. Without tracking his ability, recording his progress and identifying areas for practice, he would never have been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or – never mind winning it four times.

We should all be tracking key information in our business (and I mean the meaningful information under the skin of the business – not just numbers on a balance sheet which would be tantamount to Ronaldo checking match scores and hoping to improve based purely on last week’s result).

I think it’s worth us all asking ourselves what information we can access within our businesses today – is it enough, do we need to access something different, can we get to it quickly, are we acting on it or is it just lying in a file somewhere?

In the meantime, I for one won’t be deterred from buying the latest Fifa game because Ronaldo’s photo is on the cover – my gaming ability, however, is another story…