The World Cup 2018 in Russia needed a match like Portugal v Spain to help fans forget all the pre-tournament worries and controversies and learn to love the game again.
Well, Portugal and Spain delivered, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick and ruthlessly announcing himself in this year’s World Cup.
Ronaldo often is perceived as distant and arrogant, and that image wasn’t helped when the day before his opening game it was revealed that he had reportedly agreed to accept an €18.8 million fine and a suspended jail term to settle tax evasion charges in Spain.
- What World Cup matches are on TV today?
- Complete World Cup 2018 guide – including every match fixture, kick-off time, TV channel, venue and more
But a simple gesture can change all those preconceptions.
People have been sharing an old clip of Ronaldo interacting with two mascots. It’s not from this year’s World Cup, but fans have been appreciating it nonetheless.
Lining up for the anthems before kick-off, two mascots who were stood in front of Ronaldo couldn’t believe their luck, with the cameras catching the pair of them looking up at Ronaldo beaming.
Ronaldo noticed their smiles, and flashed a grin back at them. A sweet gesture considering the scrutiny he is about to be put under.
This is the absolute best. Footballer as inspiration. pic.twitter.com/VOPXJNNSLH
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) June 16, 2018
Watch the kid on the left as Ronaldo smiles at him.
THIS IS SO CUTIE pic.twitter.com/l9pq9hlWXJ
— ㅤ? (@saintclass) July 12, 2016
I've always really disliked Ronaldo. Decided I can't anymore. Kids worship him, fans adore him. Imagine if he was English? Imagine if we had a player that good? Took me years, but now I'm sold #PORSPA #Ronaldo
— M_Twedds (@Tweddds) June 16, 2018
The best thing about tonight’s game was watching my boys face when Ronaldo scored his third, he just sat still with the biggest smile on his face, mesmerised ????
— Dave Edwards (@_DaveEdwards) June 15, 2018
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 16, 2018
This isn’t the first time Ronaldo has defied expectations. Check out this video of him stepping off the bus to meet a fan before leaving for the World Cup.
A young fan thought he'd missed the chance to meet his hero as Portugal departed for the World Cup.
Cristiano stepped off the bus and made sure his dream came true. pic.twitter.com/r3qERFy8Vz
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 11, 2018
Again, small gestures, but enough to win over fans around the world.