Cristiano Ronaldo hinted that he intends to play well into his 40s after revealing the secret of his success and longevity at the Best Fifa Football Awards.
The Manchester Unietd ace will turn 37 on February 5. He has been at the top of the sport for two decades and shown no signs of slowing down. Having moved back to Old Trafford from Juventus in the summer, the Portugal international has bagged 14 goals from 21 appearances.
And that takes his total in club football to 688. Add to that 115 for Portugal and it is easy to see why he was honoured at Monday evening’s ceremony.
He was given an award for becoming the men’s international all-time top scorer. The former Real Madrid star has now moved past Ali Daei’s previous record total of 109, scored for Iran.
And, after accepting his prize, the veteran paid tribute to those who have been part of his international playing career.
“I’m very happy,” he said on the Fifa website. “It’s a special award for me to be the best goalscorer ever. It’s a great achievement. I’m so proud.
“I never thought that one day I would be the number one. It’s a great honour for me. It’s great to be the [record] goalscorer of all time.
“I have to say thank you to my old team-mates from 2004, when I started to play for the national team, until now. And, of course, I have to say thank you to my family: my wife, my kids.”
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Hard work key to Ronaldo record
Ronaldo is rated as one of the best players ever to grace a pitch. His ability to beat players and score goals has only been matched by Lionel Messi in the modern game.
But the ex-Juventus forward feels there is much more to it than just an abundance of skill.
“Sacrifice,” he replied when asked why he has been so successful. “Without sacrifice you can’t achieve anything. I started to play at the top level when I was 18 and I’ve been at the top for 15, 16 years.
“It’s down to my dedication, my passion, my ambition and working hard all the time. This is why I’ve continued to be at the top of the world in terms of performance, trophies, goals, records.”
Ronaldo still has much to offer
Ronaldo is now at an age when most footballers have called it a day. Goal returns tend to decrease once a player reaches the twilight of their career.
But, with an enduring ability to make the net ripple, the Madeira-born ace has no intention of retiring just yet.
“I love the game. I still have that passion and I want to continue,” he said. “People ask me sometimes how many more years I’m going to play and I say I hope to play another four, five years.
“It’s all mental because I think that if you treat your body [well], when you need your body it’s going to give it back.”