Inside Cristiano Ronaldo's latest quest for glory at 39: Superstar pockets £160m a year thanks to Saudi move and sponsorship deals but is hungrier than ever to break records

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Perhaps successful hindsight it was foolish to constitute him disconnected but aft each that happened successful Qatar it seemed reasonable to presume Cristiano Ronaldo would not beryllium backmost for different awesome tournament.

That was nan World Cup finals during which Ronaldo trim ties pinch Manchester United, rocking nan Portugal campy pinch fallout from that bombshell question and reply pinch Piers Morgan and disapproval of Erik 10 Hag.

And he near successful a strop. Demoted to nan bench, successful conflict pinch leader Fernando Santos and humbled by Morocco successful a quarter-final, featuring only 10 Ronaldo touches successful his 39 minutes connected nan pitch.


For each his greatness he could not alteration nan outcome. His powers were connected nan wane, his monolithic ego damaged and if looks could termination Santos would ne'er person made nan formation retired of Doha.

As it turned out, looks could sack. Santos, nan head who led Portugal to glory astatine Euro 2016, was replaced by Roberto Martinez.

Cristiano Ronaldo is hungrier than ever for occurrence up of his sixth European Championship

It comes contempt nan 39-year-old pocketing £160m a twelvemonth aft his move to Saudi Arabia including sponsorship deals (pictured pinch his partner Georgina Rodriguez)

Ronaldo is still 1 of nan astir marketable players successful nan world adjacent nan extremity of his career

But he besides still produces nan equipment connected nan pitch, and he near pundits and Portugal fans drooling complete his show against Ireland past week wherever he bagged himself 2 goals 

Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr successful Saudi Arabia but refused to vanish into obscurity, winning nan Golden Boot pinch a grounds haul of 35 goals to go nan first footballer to apical nan extremity charts successful 4 different countries.

'I don't travel records, records travel me,' he told his 632 cardinal Instagram followers.

It is difficult to argue. There is 1 much play connected his existent statement by which clip he will beryllium 40 years aged and talks are nether measurement to widen nan woody to 2026.

So present he stands connected nan brink of becoming nan first to look successful six European Championships while fuelling nan thought he mightiness besides go nan first to scope a sixth World Cup.

'Records are ever positive,' said Ronaldo successful 2022 erstwhile he moved past Kuwait's Bader al Mutawa and group a caller precocious for world appearances. 'They are my motivation. I for illustration to break records and this grounds is special, but I want to support playing moreover much games. I don't want to extremity here.'

He now has 207 caps and holds nan grounds for astir world goals, now astatine 130. Harry Kane trails him by much goals than he has scored for England.

And Ronaldo is still scoring freely astatine 39. Only Romelu Lukaku (14 goals) scored much successful nan qualifying than his 10 and 2 much successful a friends against nan Republic of Ireland this period had pundits drooling complete what they claimed was his finest capacity successful years.

'Cristiano is successful nan nationalist squad connected merit,' said Martinez up of Tuesday's crippled against Czechia successful Leipzig. 'Nobody gets into nan nationalist squad conscionable by being a name.

The assignment of Roberto Martinez arsenic Portugal head has been bully for Ronaldo 

Ronaldo has scored a staggering number of goals for nine and state complete nan past 12 months

'He is scoring goals pinch unthinkable consistency. For us, he's a extremity scorer, personification who tin make nan last move, agelong defenders. Over nan years he has changed nan measurement he plays somewhat but he is successful nan squad connected merit and nan numbers backmost that up.'

Last week, Martinez told UEFA.com of nan Ronaldo effect connected others: 'After each session, nan method unit and I will beryllium amazed that a subordinate who has achieved everything, who could person nan prime of what effort he puts into training is driven by winning, is obsessed by being nan best, is obsessed astir perfection.

'That's contagious. Young players erstwhile they travel to nan nationalist squad spot a person, a player, an idol they've been looking up to, and his behaviour is beyond belief. Players for illustration Pepe and Ronaldo mounting that illustration are going to make america amended for nan adjacent generations to come.'

Martinez has been bully for Ronaldo. He is simply a soft communicator, tin of satisfying media obsession pinch his captain, and a skilled man-manager.

'Roberto has ever had a awesome expertise to understand footballers,' says Graeme Jones, nan Newcastle coach who was adjunct to Martinez done their occurrence astatine Swansea, Wigan, Everton and Belgium. 'I'd telephone it his biggest strength. He tin woody pinch large players and blend a squad astir them. He's done it each done his profession pinch maverick players.

Ronaldo is keen to gain much world silverware aft disappointment successful nan World Cup

'Tactically, he tin group them up to header defensively pinch whoever plays up beforehand and make judge they are productive successful possession. He ever had a awesome knack of getting apical value players to bask their football. He doesn't want 11 robots. That's why he has embraced Ronaldo. He's not getting immoderate younger but he tin still effect a game.'

Ronaldo has played sometimes cardinal successful a beforehand three. Sometimes successful tandem pinch Goncalo Ramos. And he has not played each minute. Ronaldo started 9 of nan 10 qualifiers, vanished only 5 and appeared successful only 2 of 5 friendlies.

Martinez is arsenic observant not to subdue others successful nan team. Ramos, Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Pedro Neto, Diogo Jota, Bruno Fernandes and Francisco Conceicao dress up a wealthiness of attacking options.

They are beardown and they person Portugal dreaming they tin reclaim nan trophy they won successful Paris 8 years agone erstwhile Ronaldo was injured successful nan last and attacked by moths.

There is simply a happier equilibrium of powerfulness but CR7 is astatine nan vanguard.

'Ronaldo is applicable again,' says Tom Kundert, writer and editor of nan Portugoal.net English connection Portuguese shot site. 'After nan World Cup, a batch of group thought that was beautiful overmuch it arsenic acold arsenic his Portugal profession was concerned but he has bounced backmost for illustration he ever does.

'One point that is different, he was for truthful agelong nan champion subordinate but dissimilar successful erstwhile tournaments they spell into this 1 pinch three, four, 5 players who are much important.

'Ronaldo is still nan captain, beforehand and centre of attraction but he has appeared a small much accepting that he mightiness not play 90 minutes successful each game. He is an plus again not nan problem group feared he would beryllium aft nan World Cup and he has nan afloat support of everyone again.'

Ronaldo was dropped to nan chair successful Qatar but is expected to play a starring domiciled astatine nan Euros

Saudi Arabia has astir apt been bully for him too. Not only financially, though he does pouch a basal costs of £60million a twelvemonth topped-up to thing for illustration £160m pinch commercialized deals promoting nan charms of nan kingdom.

But, besides wherever amended to repair nan vulnerable ego than a onshore wherever you tin unrecorded successful luxury while doing what you emotion nan most, plundering easy goals successful a convention classed by Opta arsenic nan world's 26th strongest and posing for photographs.

Then sticking it each connected societal media. We already cognize astir his powerfulness and influence. Coca-Cola shares plummeted erstwhile Ronaldo moved their bottles from position earlier a property convention astatine Euro 2020 and told everyone to 'drink water' instead.

He is priceless to nan Saudis, who tweaked nan rules to alteration his boy Cristiano Jr to subordinate Al-Nassr's academy and tolerated his unseemly wont of berating referees until it each went excessively acold erstwhile he pulled backmost his fist arsenic if to punch nan shot astatine nan man who dared nonstop him off.

But they person not stretched to letting him triumph nan title. Al-Nassr were runners up down Al-Hilal successful nan Pro-League and beaten by nan aforesaid squad connected penalties successful nan King's Cup final. The shot is competitory successful its ain measurement and cipher doubts his committedness to his fitness. Just look astatine him.

Ronaldo collapsed successful tears aft nan cup last successful Jeddah. Winning still matters. Being nan champion still matters. Inject a small of that into 1 of nan astir lavishly talented squads astatine nan tourney and Portugal will spell far.


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