Cristiano Ronaldo has admitted that his on-pitch demeanour may have left him lagging behind Lionel Messi in the popularity stakes.
The duo are constantly held against each other as the best two attackers in world football at the moment, but it is the Barcelona man that has won the past three Ballon d’Or awards and generally shades consensus amongst critics.
In an interview with CNN published today, Real Madrid star Ronaldo believes that his own image on the pitch may have contributed to this situation.
“I don't want to cry about it, but sometimes I think yes,” he reflected. “It's a question to which I never give the 100 per cent right answer, because sometimes I really don't know.
“I don't think it's allowed for people to change my personality. Maybe sometimes, I agree that I have a bad image on the pitch because I'm too serious.
“But if you really know me, if you are my friend and I leave you inside my house and you share the day with me, you will know I hate to lose,” explained the Portuguese, in assessing why he might be so serious.
“I learn by my mistakes and that's life. You know, sometimes I'm a victim of that because they don't know the real Cristiano. But, this is part of the life. This is me.
“I was in the swimming pool with my girlfriend and sometimes we like to have a race,” he continued. “Sometimes you have to give her an opportunity to be happy but I win because I don't like to lose.
“It’s simple like that. Can you imagine me on the pitch playing against players, playing against other teams, it's not allowed to let them win.
“I’m a competitive man and sometimes people interpret that in a different way, which is a pain on me because I don't like it, but I have to live.”
However, the player was less than sure that his image as arrogant is as fair a picture.
“People who call me arrogant, I'm interested, not with all of them, but most of them. One day I would like to sit with them and have a chat to see in which way they think I'm arrogant.
“You know, to have a chat, in a nice place and for them to get to know me, you understand? Because I think they need to sit with me to know who the real Cristiano is.”
The real Cristiano, amongst other things, struggles to find time for anything other than the game.
“Virtually everything revolves around football, because of my career, my life is football and I try to do everything to do well in my career.
“In my free time I try and pass the time in the best way possible, with friends and family, doing things that I can’t when I’m competing.
“It’s a life, there’s no difficulty, but I do not have much time to do things and enjoy things outside of football.”
Returning focus to this season, the player was clear that this approach would be continuing, in a bid to win more with Real.
“If you want to be at a very high level, you have to be on top physically and mentally, and that costs. You have to be prepared.
“My goal is to work like last season and score as many goals as possible and try to win titles. That is the fundamental basis for all players. It is not normal to score 100 goals and not win any titles.
“I prefer, though, to score 10 and win a title. I know that we will fight and I’m sure that Madrid will win something important.”
Ronaldo also spoke of the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“I don’t remember during the last 10 years a rivalry such as this. And this is good for football, for people to enjoy something unique. I hear people who have been playing for years and say that it is now more difficult to win.
“That’s why Spain is the best League in the world, because they are the two best teams with the best players.”
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