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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
I interviewed Ron Harris, the legendary Chelsea defender, at Stamford Bridge once and it was a real eye-opener. As we sat, drinking coffee and chatting about Jose Mourinho, people walked past with their eyes on stalks. Fathers could be overheard telling their sons, "That's Ron Harris, that is. The greatest player Chelsea ever had." There was so much respect swilling around the room that I kept having to remind myself that I wasn't interviewing Nelson Mandela. Harris played for Chelsea from 1961 until 1980, pulling on the blue shirt more times than any other player. He didn't do stepovers, he didn't have a trademark free-kick and few would have described him as a heart-throb, but he'll have a legacy at Stamford Bridge that will last for decades.

Over at Old Trafford, a considerably more talented, but infinitely less classy Ron is working hard to ensure that his talents and contributions to Manchester United's cause will never be rebreed with anything other than a grimace. There is no concern for the respect of future generations, no desire for a legacy, no wish to repay the club that launched him as a global superstar. There is just naked greed and self-interest. How times have changed.

Cristiano Ronaldo's endorsement of Sepp Blatter's latest rant has snuffed out any faint hope that this long-running saga has been nothing but speculation, but it has also obliterated any sympathy that anyone may have had for the young star. It's rarely a good idea to align yourself with Blatter on any issue, but when he nonsensically compares modern day sportsmen to slaves, it should be a no-brainer. No slave is paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a week, and I've yet to hear about any that were offered the chance to negotiate their own period of servitude. It's a scandal that Blatter is allowed to wield so much power when he is so far out of touch with reality that he may as well be broadcasting from the Moon, but you expect better from Ronaldo, a boy who didn't exactly come from the richest background.

The argument that he has achieved everything at Old Trafford and therefore should be allowed to move to Real Madrid makes no sense either. If he thinks that two league titles and a European cup is the high-water mark of achievement, then he might want to take a look at Liverpool's trophy cabinet and get some perspective. True champions don't just win once and then vanish, they make a period of time synonymous with their own greatness. He hasn't even won as much as Graeme Souness yet.

The saddest thing is that everyone knows what will happen now. The Glazers will, quite understandably, renege on their earlier promise to make him rot in the reserves and they'll take the increasingly large amount of money on offer from Spain. Sir Alex Ferguson will be forced to replace one of the best players in the world, an impossible task because only Lionel Messi can be counted in that category, and he's not budging. Ronaldo will get his move and his money and I hope it makes him very happy. I wonder though, how long it will take him to realise what he's turned his back on.

With a staggering 42 goals from midfield last season, he had given himself a chance to be recognised as one of the greatest players ever to play for one of the greatest teams. By placing a knife between the shoulder-blades of the man who turned him from a skinny show-pony to a chiselled world-beater, he has determined how history will judge him. He does not deserve to be counted alongside the true greats like Sir Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law, George Best, Bryan Robson, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. He will not be loved for years after he retires like Ron Harris is at Chelsea. He will simply remain as this generation's example of 'football going mad'. I hope he enjoys his legacy.