There are some people who, I guess, are just not meant to be liked. Maybe they don't fit with what we expect, or perhaps there's something about them that prompts us to judge them more harshly than others. Or maybe they just don't look right.
Consider four of the world's best players (I'm not going to suggest they are
What gives? What's the common thread binding Kaká and Messi on the one hand and Ibra and Ronaldo on the other?
Ibrahimovic is accused of being lazy off the ball. Fair enough -- you lose track of the number of times he stands, hands on hips, watching his teammates defend at the other end of the pitch. But then Messi isn't exactly the second coming of
As for being "money-hungry" mercenaries, sure, you could level that accusation at some of them. Ibrahimovic practically engineered his move from Ajax to Juventus in 2004. He then dumped Juve for Inter after the
Ronaldo supposedly goes down too easily and occasionally reacts with X-rated tackles (just ask
So what is it? Personal life? Ronaldo lives his life like a 20-something single heterosexual male with money to burn, the center of a universe of beautiful and willing women. But Ibrahimovic shed his wild streak a few years ago; these days, he's just another boring married guy. Of course, compared to the ultra low-key Messi (whose girlfriend made her first public appearance only earlier this year) and the evangelical Christian Kaká (who preserved his virginity until his wedding day), Ibra is
Could the difference be -- ultimately -- the way these people look and come across? Messi and Kaká are both clean-cut and soft-spoken. They look shy and humble. There's something of the underdog about them (which, incidentally, isn't that far from the truth: Messi overcame a hormonal disorder, Kaká broke his neck when he was a kid). Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo both look big and brash. They remind you of the older kid in the playground who stepped into your pick-up games and ran circles around you.
Of course, the marketing folks picked up on this a long, long time ago, which is why Messi and Kaká far outstrip the other two in terms of Q rating and commercial potential. As for who the greatest of the four is, it's open to debate, and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But because we're only human, odds are, the likability factor will affect the debate, probably far more than it should.