Cristiano Ronaldo turns 36 in February but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner says he is eyeing success for “many, many years to come” as the prolific forward chases more glory with Juventus and Portugal in 2021.
Ronaldo ends 2020 as the top scorer in the calendar year in Europe’s top five league, netting 33 times for Juventus – one more than Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski managed for his team in the Bundesliga this year, although the free-scoring Pole did manage more goals in overall competition, bagging 45 goals to Ronaldo’s 41.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored more league goals than any other player in Europe’s top five divisions in 2020:⬡ 29 games⬢ 33 goals scored⬡ 76.2 minutes per goalCR7 ON 🔥 pic.twitter.com/RuiXkfnJnE
That kind of form coupled with Ronaldo’s incredible dedication to keeping himself in perfectly chiseled shape means discussion has turned to just how long the serial winner can continue plying his trade at the top of his sport.
As an example, some have pointed to the likes of fellow icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who at the age of 39 continues to astound fans and whose form has helped propel AC Milan to the top of the Serie A table – a full 10 points ahead of Juventus, who are chasing a record-extending 10th consecutive Scudetto.
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For Ronaldo, 2021 will be a year in which, all being well, he will lead Portugal as they seek to defend their title at the European Championships in the summer, and where on the personal front the star striker will aim to score the seven goals he needs to catch former Iran legend Ali Daei at the top of the all-time international scoring charts.
Ronaldo said he is planning to continue playing for some time yet to come, and that it is also his “dream” to skipper his country at the Qatar World Cup in 2022 – which would be his fifth appearance at the tournament.
“It doesn’t matter the age. What is important is the mind,” Ronaldo said.
“It doesn’t matter if Cristiano Ronaldo is good, you don’t know tomorrow what is going to happen. I live in the present, in the moment.
“The moment is good, I feel happy, I feel sharp and in a good moment in my life. I hope to play many, many years more but you never know.”
“This is football, we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. When I speak to young boys I always say ‘enjoy the moment’ because we never know what will happen. My eyes see the future very, very bright, so I am happy with that.”
Ronaldo was frustratingly sidelined with a Covid-19 infection earlier this season, and lamented playing at empty stadiums as the pandemic rages on.
“I don’t like to play in the stadiums without fans, it’s like going to the circus but you don’t see clowns,” the Juve said.
“The pandemic has made people crazy. I hope soon they can open the gates of the stadiums. We have to live with that, we have to try to do a normal life but of course we have to respect the rules. But to play without the fans, I really don’t like it.”
Back before the Russia World Cup in 2018, Ronaldo famously said he has “a biological age of 23.”
“I’ve still got a long time left, I can keep playing until I’m 41. I’m feeling good, happy, I can’t complain,” he said at the time.
With 16 goals in 14 appearances for Juventus in all competitions this season – and seemingly with as much hunger to succeed as ever – few would bet against Ronaldo playing and scoring for at least a few more years to come.