Yes, it's a hard one to defend given its place in the seven deadly sins – doubly so when you learn that its parent sin, pride, is often considered the original and most serious of the lot (something to do with a fellow called Lucifer and his banishment from head office to a hellish job in the sticks).
That said, anyone who watched Wednesday's penalty shoot-out between Euro 2012 semi-finalists Portugal and Spain will recognise that, while Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to go last backfired spectacularly as earlier Portugese misses meant he never got to take his penalty, the vanity involved in his decision is to be commended.
Why? Because while fans of the traditional up-and-at-'em British style may have no truck with the peacocks and prima donnas of world football, their swagger, skill and, yes, their vanity make them thrilling players to watch. Who hasn't marvelled at the sight of a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick as he takes his five steps back, tenses his arms, puffs out his chest and spins the ball over the defenders into the top corner of the net?
Yes, Ronaldo wanted the glory. So what? Had his Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos fluffed his audacious straight-down-the-middle penalty for Spain, he would be the one charged with vanity. Instead, he's praised and his chipped spot-kick has already become a YouTube hit. "It was a risk, of course," said a gleeful Ramos. "It was lucky, but it was great for me."
Ronaldo's vanity made him take a risk and that risk was not blessed with the same luck. It may be next time: keep watching. Vanity, narcissism and self-absorption may be corrosive personality traits in real life, but in those grassy arenas where the world's best players perform what football writer Simon Kupar calls "a dance in space", it is worthy of our praise.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.