Cristiano Ronaldo has discussed his season ambitions, growing old, his relationship with fans home and away, and if he is still ‘sad’ at Real Madrid.
The Real Madrid star turned 28 yesterday and gave an in-depth interview with AS to celebrate, and first up, the Portuguese was asked what would be the ideal present to receive.
“The first gift I would ask for is the Decima [10th European Cup], something very special for Real Madrid after so many years without winning it and, of course, it would be also for me,” he reflected.
“The Champions League is the most for a player and to win it excites me a lot this year. I’ve been playing for 10 years as a professional and I am proud of what I have accomplished.
“I have many challenges ahead. The Champions League and Copa del Rey with Madrid, because we know the League is very complicated.”
In edging ever closer to 30, Ronaldo was asked if he looks to former teammate Ryan Giggs as an example to follow, in continuing to play at the top level approaching 40.
“It’s a difficult question to answer, because I do want to play for 10 more years, but I do not yet know if I can get to 38.
“I want to play many more years and I will if I feel good mentally and physically. I can work towards this because I have good genes. There should not be issues in trying to achieve it.
“They say that after 32, 33, your genetics change and so does the way you play, it slows you down, but you gain in experience. I enjoy this time, which is very good.”
AS asked if Ronaldo was happy for the comparisons with Alfredo Di Stefano. The Portuguese reached 100 goals for the club in 87 appearances, the same record as Di Stefano.
“It is an honour to be compared to the greats of football and Madrid. It is an honour to be next to these men, but to me I am concerned about working to help my club to become better.
“I do not think of comparisons or records because that is not good. What is true is that I always try to make people love me.
“I want to make my mark at Madrid and I will only do that if I defend the club until the end of my tether.”
On this subject, the player was asked of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd’s improved relationship with him.
“This situation makes me very happy. I’m excited for the love fo the people on the field, in the street. I am proud to see that people are behind me, because they have realised that Cristiano is always the same.
“I always compete. I always give my all and the fans have realised. The Bernabeu appreciates me and see me as their player, at home.
“What motivates me is seeing that people care for me and continue to support me in all games, whether I score or not.”
The 28-year-old was asked of his emotions in hearing the Bernabeu chant his name in unison.
“It’s a dream come true. When I signed for Madrid in 2009, it was one of my desires and the things I wanted from the first day I set foot in the Bernabeu.
“The fans have seen this and come to the conclusion that I am in body and soul, and I defend this shirt to my death. It leaves me very pleased that I can feel their love.
“I know they love me and that fills me. The first day they chanted my name, I went home with the feeling of accomplishment, because I always try to give everything for this club.
“Have I changed since arriving in Spain? I have always been the same person, but people have not had the chance to get to know me.
“Now they are slowly seeing how I am and it is true that I notice much more affection. I have not changed my personality, but some things can always be better.
“But my personality is always the same. I am happy that I am appreciated, but it strikes me because I have always been the same.”
Ronaldo was asked if he has also noticed opposition fans warming more to him.
“It is true. I notice that in stadiums they insult me less and less. I cannot please everyone, though. God did not make that so, I cannot do that myself. It is not good for children who go to the stadiums to hear those chants against me. It’s all about football and the basis is to go the games to enjoy the show and not to insult or threaten the players.”
Ronaldo, who declared at the start of the season that he was ‘sad’ at Real Madrid, was asked if the situation has changed much since.
“Yes things have changed because I do what I love, which is playing football and I am feeling very well in the field and with my teammates.
“Maybe my way of thinking and living has changed too. Right now I feel better than before.
“My contract? I will not talk much about this, because really it is not important to me right now. What’s in my head is my hope that Madrid win the Decima and Copa del Rey.
“The renewal is a subject that I do not want to talk about and that I do not care about now. Now I care only about the team and we’ll talk at the end of the season. I swear on my son that my sadness with the club was never a question concerning money. It was not.”
Ronaldo was also asked if he had heard from Levante defender David Navarro, who caught the Madrid man during a League meeting a few weeks ago.
“No, I have not heard anything. He has not called me. But I do not want to talk much about this issue because a guy who catches me strongly and opens up my brow requiring me to have six stitches deserves a big punishment and penalty.
“But treatment in football is not the same for all players. But, nothing has happened and it wasn’t even whistled for a foul. It hurts, because these things do not do justice to football. It makes me sad because it is not a good example for children.”