McGeady better than cristiano ronaldo ??November 7, 2007
Artur Boruc last night claimed that Aiden McGeady has the talent to surpass Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the world’s most creative players.The 21-year-old strolled back on to the stage he first graced as a teenage Champions League debutant against AC Milan last night and stole the spotlight.
Celtic can now dream of the 3-0 victory over Shaktar Donetsk in two weeks’ time which would propel them once more into the last 16 of the Champions League. Boruc, a quietly-spoken man if one who generates loud headlines, refused to duck a comparison with one of the world’s finest players last night, insisting: “I think he can be better than Cristiano Ronaldo – that’s my personal opinion.
“I’m already looking forward to the next games because I think Aiden will just improve all the time.”
With reduced spending, reduced wage overheads and reduced expectations at Celtic, such an achievement would be remarkable. And highly satisfying, given the contribution of McGeady, a youth-academy graduate of some distinction.
In a mesmerising display of audacious running, remarkable close control and prolific crossing, the Republic of Ireland international capped a memorable occasion with the winning goal.
His first in Europe’s premier competition, the strike – in the moments before half-time – owed much to a hint of good fortune. Thoroughly merited good fortune, it should be said.
For there could be no arguments with the calibre of the all-round package on offer from the wide man. Not for the first time, this was a night to have grown Scotsmen weeping into their beer as they contemplated the one who got away.
“He is still only 21 and he has many more years to play,” said Boruc. “He’ll get better and better all the time and I hope people will not knock him.
“I played for Poland against Portugal recently. In fact, I’ve played a few games against Ronaldo. It’s hard to compare two players. You have to ask the manager really. But Aiden definitely has the ability to be even better than Ronaldo.”
For Gordon Strachan, such talk will bring only frustration. Despite hailing McGeady’s performance as ‘awesome’, the Celtic boss steadfastly bodyswerved any comparisons between Ronaldo and his own player at the weekend.
Hyperbole is not Strachan’s way, yet it’s far from overstating matters to suggest that it’s to the manager that McGeady owes much of the credit for his resurrection.
In the Martin O’Neill era, defending was an alien concept to the young, cocksure individual who swaggered into the first team after a power of hype.
Only when Strachan wielded the axe did the penny drop and, after intensive sessions with fitness coach Gregory duPont, the attacking midfielder has added power and speed to his armoury. The results, as Boruc conceded last night, are obvious.
“Aiden was just unbelievable,” said Poland’s international goalkeeper. “He made fantastic runs, he was a really important part of our team tonight and I’m really happy for him.
“He is a brilliant guy and, as I say, he is getting better all the time. The pressure at Celtic is always high for everyone and it doesn’t matter who you are. You have to play your best in every single game, but he was great.”
Modesty has never been a trait with which Boruc has been readily associated, yet the goalkeeper played down his own role in the victory over Benfica which keeps Celtic very firmly in the hunt.
Two early saves from his old nemesis of Lisbon, Oscar Cardozo, were top drawer.
Lapses in concentration may be evident in the SPL yet, for Boruc, the pick of some major European clubs surely beckons. It’s in the Champions League that a player earns his spurs.
“It was a great result, because three points was the main thing,” he insisted. “I’m just really happy with our performance. The second half was really good.
“They didn’t make too many chances and I don’t want to say much about myself. I had to make some saves, but that is my job. I’m just happy with that.”
The words Celtic supporters most wish to hear from Boruc are of the contract-commitment variety.
Celtic have begun talks with their highly-prized goalkeeper yet, as rumours emerge of a January move for Dundee United’s Grzegorz Szamotulski, the whispers speak only of the fans’ favourite seeking fresh pastures.
“I’m not really allowed to talk about my contract,” was Boruc’s only offering on the subject. In every sense, this was a night when Aiden McGeady was the talk of the town.