PANENKA MEETS: SHANTA RONALDO

We met Shanta Ronaldo. It was interesting to say the least.

Words by Danny Brown

You may have heard of Shanta Ronaldo. The young Danish footballer became a social media celebrity a few years ago thanks to his remarkable likeness to global superstar Christiano Ronaldo. But what became of Ronaldo’s biggest fan? We decided to find out.

At some point in most young football fans lives, they’ve pretended to be Christiano Ronaldo, even for a few seconds. Find me someone who hasn’t struck that signature wide-legged pose down the park before smashing an imaginary free kick straight into the top bins. Well, Shanta Ronaldo has taken that fantasy and gone a step further.

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking Shanta Ronaldo is the real deal. The 20-year-old (real name Shanta Kordbatchje) has adopted everything from his idols surname, hairstyle and even his iconic #7 shirt number. The effect is interesting to say the least.

Nicknamed the ‘Iranian Ronaldo’, the young footballer has a social media following just shy of 40,000 people and takes inspiration from his role model in pretty much everything he does, down to the way he acts and even the clothes he wears. But when did this unique obsession first begin?

“Being a Real Madrid fan, I discovered Christiano back in 2009 and I instantly saw that he was special. People today admire players for having great technique etc. but the reason why Christiano is my idol is his mentality. He can play in a game for 89 minutes and do nothing but then, all of a sudden, he’ll score.

That’s what I admire about him. His mentality is something I’ve learned a lot from. The way he acts and works hard is important – with the right mentality you can always take steps forward. His goals and stats speak for themselves. He’s an example for everyone.”

Following in the footsteps of Ronaldo, Shanta has begun carving out a footballing career for himself and currently plays for Odense Boldklub, a club in Denmark’s Superliga. Admittedly, not quite at the level of his role model just yet – but Shanta’s got big plans and even hopes to one day play against his Ronaldo himself for Iran at the 2022 World Cup.

I started playing football here at Odense Boldklub when I was six years old. Football has always played a huge role in my life ever since I was I kid. My parents always supported me from the start and they still do right now – my dad actually played at high level back in Iran. I was born here Denmark, and that’s where my footballing career started.

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Keep your head up and believe⚽️ #nevergiveup

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I’m 20 years old and my goal is currently to develop as a player and one day play outside of Denmark. A few months ago, I had trials with LA Galaxy and in a short time I’m going to Spain to train with a team in the Segunda Division there. My dream is to represent the Iranian National Team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There are good things on the way. I’m confident.”

Shanta could hardly call himself Ronaldo’s biggest fan without having met the man himself, and he’s done that (just a few times). When Ronaldo was at Madrid, Shanta became known for waiting hours outside the club’s training ground in Spain to meet his hero and has met CR7 on at least a dozen occasions. But how does he feel about Ronaldo’s move to Italy to play for Juventus last summer?

“Yes, I’ve met him many times. He’s a great person. We spoke a lot and he wished me good luck for everything. He knows they call me the Iranian Cristiano Ronaldo! Sometimes in life, the unexpected things happen but in a positive way. I think it was the correct time for him to leave. As he always does, he scores goal after goal and he does the speaking on the pitch.”

While Shanta’s unmistakable similarity to Ronaldo has gained him a lot of popularity, it’s also caused him to get a bit of stick over the years. One newspaper claimed that Shanta had legally changed his surname to Ronaldo plus spent thousands of pounds on plastic surgery to look like his idol, but Shanta says these stories are rubbish and his looks are simply a coincidence.

“Haha! Please do not believe those fake stories. Are they still alive? Haha. Of course. The reason why I called my social media accounts ShantaRonaldo is because of the fame I got from that name. Looking like Cristiano? I think it’s more in a natural way. I just focus on my game and life. Then people can say whatever they want. I don’t want to look like Christiano. What what I want is to reach my goals and to get inspired by the best.”

Haters? They make him, and me, stronger. It’s part of my life now, I just have to keep going.”

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Actions lasts longer than words😉🤫😜

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So what is on the horizon for Shanta Ronaldo? While the 20-year-old has big dreams on the football pitch, he also sees a future for himself off it and has begun coaching young kids in Demark with the hope of launching a career in coaching to run alongside his playing career. His favourite coach is Jose Mourinho (which must be something to do with Portuguese people).

I have always wanted to develop my coaching career too as I have always and still admire tactics, coaching stuff and the mental part of the football game. My favourite coach is José Mourinho and I try to learn from him a lot, for me he is the best! The reason is simple, he knows what he is doing and have the right mentality.

For me it’s a pleasure to coach kids and to learn from my experiences. And of course, it is really a pleasure when the kids admire they have a football player as a coach. My goal is to become a better coach everyday. Let’s see what happens in the future!”

Whatever people say about Shanta, from speaking him it’s clear he’s a lovely bloke with big ambitions and we’ve got absolutely no doubt he’ll go far doing what he loves – Ronaldo or not. Keep doing you Shanta.

In the meantime, we seriously suggest you go and follow Shanta on Instagram and Twitter at @ShantaRonaldo.

AJAX ARE EXCITING AGAIN

De Jong, De ligt, Tadic & co. are names that many football fans have been familiar with for a number of years. However, I doubt many would have predicted that they would be the biggest names on everyone’s lips going in to the semi finals of this years Champions League.

Words by Neil Boardman

De Jong, De ligt, Tadic & co. are names that many football fans have been familiar with for a number of years. However, I doubt many would have predicted that they would be the biggest names on everyone’s lips going in to the semi finals of this years Champions League.

We have all grown up on a planet that considers Ajax to be one of the biggest teams in world football. A global icon of a football club that is world renowned for its youth academy and revolutionary style of play. However, in recent years the force that is Ajax has been less recognisable, compared to the club that once was.

Four-time European cup winners and one of only four teams to have won the continental treble, Ajax are one of the most successful teams in world football. But it seems that through the 21st century, ‘de Godenzonen’ have become a victim of their own success – losing their winning touch and having to settle for being ‘just’ Dutch champions most years.

However, it seems that the footballing gods have blessed the Amsterdam residents with a new lease of life. A combination of top quality homegrown talent from Jong Ajax and the footballing mind of Erik ten Hag has brought Ajax back into the big time – and it’s bloody wonderful to see.

With fearless performances at two of the world’s most fearful grounds – the homes of Real Madrid and Juventus, Ajax played like they know they can. Cutting-edge, attacking football is what the club is so famous for and that’s what we are seeing in 2019 – a team full of youth playing the football that they want to play

In a depressing time in the world (and, often, football) sometimes all we need to cheer ourselves up in the middle of a week, is a nice pint of European lager to sip whilst watching a few blokes (probably a lot younger and cooler than us) kick around a football in a manner that makes the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos cry. It’s Ajax that are helping us do that – as the title of this article suggests, it’s exciting. 

Some said that Ajax’s dream wasn’t sustainable after the night in Madrid, however, their antics in Turin have declared to the world that Ajax are back. When the football, they are producing, is this nice, it is hard not to get behind it. Admit it to yourself, it would be great to see the underdogs go all the way and win it, wouldn’t it? A story that would ensure this Ajax’s teams place in history, before, inevitably, all these really lovely players go and start playing in posh towns in Spain for half a million a week. 

All in all, this season’s Ajax team sums up what I love about football. It gets me buzzing for midweek nights and that’s what the European cup is all about. With the club reaching their first European cup semi final since 1997, they have the credentials to go all the way. Into them Ajax – you have my backing. 

THE MOST HATED MAN IN FOOTBALL

Football is a soap opera. It’s got drama, excitement, heroes… and villains. And no-one plays the bad guy quite like Sergio Ramos.

Words by Danny Brown

Football is a soap opera. It’s got drama, excitement, heroes… and villains. And no-one plays the bad guy quite like Sergio Ramos.

Adored by fans at the Bernabeu and despised just about everywhere else, Ramos is the pantomime villain that football fans love to hate. Wiling to stop at nothing to win and well practiced in the Dark Arts, Ramos is the type of guy who would two-foot his nan if it mean winning the Champions League. Just mention his name near a Liverpool fan, and you’re likely to hear the sound of piss boiling.

It’s got to point where Ramos is that much of a bastard, there’s not much you can do but sit back and admire evil at work. After all, who doesn’t love a good anti hero? Tony Soprano, Michael Corleone, Walter White and now Sergio Ramos. With that in mind, here’s six times Ramos proved his reputation as football’s biggest arsehole:

WHEN HE TRIED TO SNAP MESSI’S LEG OFF

As someone who makes a living out of scything people down, Ramos is unsurprisingly no stranger to red cards (he’s got the most in La Liga history), and El Classico is no exception. The games against rivals Barca tend to be a feisty affair and have seen Ramos chalk up an impressive five sendings off.

The best of the bunch is probably the straight red Ramos received for this two-footed lunge on Lionel Messi, would would have taken the Argentinian’s leg clean off (had he not jumped out of the way first.) It’s a horrible challenge but to be fair to Ramos, that’s probably the only way to stop Lionel scoring.

WHEN HE REARRANGED A VICTORIA PLZEN PLAYER’S FACE

While Messi might have escaped the wrath of Ramos (that time at least), one Victoria Plzen player wasn’t quite so lucky. When the Czech side met Real in the group stage of the Champions League, Milan Havel was unfortunate enough to find his face on the end of a sly elbow from Ramos just ten minutes in.

I don’t know what’s worse, Havel being crumpled on the ground in a pool of his own blood or the fact that Ramos clearly wasn’t arsed in the slightest. What a bastard. (Warning – the video’s pretty grim, so if you’re squeamish maybe skip this one.)

HIS VERY DELIBERATE BOOKING AGAINST AJAX

Nothing says cynical like a deliberate yellow card, which is what Ramos decided to pick up during Real’s tie against Ajax back in February. With the first leg wrapped up 2-1 and a suspension hanging over Ramos’ head, the defender hacked down Kasper Dolberg in front of the ref late on ensuring he collected a yellow card.

The booking meant Ramos sat out the return leg at the Bernabeu – meaning he’d be suspension-free and able to hack people down again in the later rounds. For once however Ramos’ actions came back to bite him in the arse, with Ajax, inspired by Dusan Tadic, battering the hosts 4-1 and dumping Madrid (and Ramos) out of the competition.

WHEN HE GOT CUADRADO SENT OFF IN THE CL FINAL

When it comes to shithousing, Ramos has tended to save his very best for Champions League finals. Rewind to 2017, when in a seemingly innocuous exchange Juventus’ Juan Cuadrado ever-so-slightly brushed Ramos’ ankle on his way to collect the ball for a throw in. Big mistake.

Naturally, Ramos decided to throw himself on the ground, roll about a bit and hold his foot in fake agony. It would have been hilarious, had the linesman two inches away not somehow fallen for it and told the ref to send Cuardrado off. Juventus were reduced to 10 men and Real went on to win 4-1.

AND THEN INJURED MOHAMMED SALAH THE YEAR AFTER

It was in last year’s Champions League final that Ramos really established himself as the most hated bloke in football (look away now Liverpool fans). His victim was Mo Salah, Liverpool’s prolific Egyptian striker, who had pretty much single-handedly fired the reds into the final with his 10 goals scored in the competition.

With Salah on-fire, Liverpool came into the match with their eyes firmly on the trophy. But as always, Ramos had other ideas. An innocent tussle for the ball turned WWE takedown later and Liverpool’s talisman was limping off the pitch in tears. The rest is history, two mistakes from a concussed Lorius Karius (also thanks to you-know-who) later and Real had a 3-1 win.

AND RUBBED SALT IN THE WOUND AT UEFA’S AWARD CEREMONY A FEW MONTHS LATER

If you thought injuring Salah in the biggest game of his career and snatching away Liverpool’s chance of a historic Champions League trophy would be enough for Ramos, then you’d be wrong. (Credit for this one also has to go partly to whichever genius at UEFA comes up with the seating plans for major award ceremonies.)

It was at a swanky UEFA awards do that Ramos decided to make his best attempt to replace Maggie Thatcher as the most hated person in Merseyside. Lurking behind Salah all night like some sort of demon in a three-piece suit, Ramos’ smugness was there for all to see as he collected his award, giving Salah an infamous brush on the shoulder as he returned to his seat.

As Tony Montana once said: “This is the last time you ever gonna see a bad guy like me.” Never change, Sergio. You horrible man.