Cristiano Ronaldo said it himself two years ago, he’s a different beast to those around him.
While players his age break down, head out to play in China or the Middle East, Ronaldo barely breaks sweat. In fact, it can be argued that Ronaldo is better since turning 30 than he was before.
‘I am a different athlete, a different person with a different brain,’ he told France Football in 2018. After notching his 100th – and then his 101st – goal for Portugal on Tuesday night, few will argue with him.
Cristiano Ronaldo showed he has no plans to act his age as he reached 101 international goals
A sensational free-kick saw him reach a century of goals and he has got better after turning 30
Three Champions League titles with Real Madrid (left) since turning 30 is a sign of his ageing process being different to his peers and he is continuing to impress with Juventus in Italy
Even Real Madrid’s medical staff concluded that before he left in 2018 he had the body of a 23-year-old. If Ronaldo is in a foot race with Father Time he is winning by a country mile.
His blistering speed that saw him dazzle at Manchester United, and the early years with Real Madrid, is no longer his greatest facet. And yet, the goals do not dry up.
Peers and managers are running out of superlatives for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. Portugal boss Fernando Santos was simply left awestruck on a night that belonged to Ronaldo on Tuesday.
‘What more can I say?’ Santos laughed. ‘A team that has the best in the world cannot be better without the best in the world.
‘[Ronaldo] goes on breaking records and records and then, when everyone thinks he is going to finish, there are even more records to beat. He feeds on it.’
His 100th goal for his country was classic Ronaldo, finding the top corner from a free-kick
Taking his international goals post turning 30, he is still Portugal’s all-time leading scorer
In terms of the national team, Ronaldo would still be the country’s all-time leading scorer if his contribution post-30 was what counted.
Forty-nine goals since turning the landmark age five years ago keeps the Juventus star ahead of Pauleta (47), Eusebio (41), Luis Figo (32) and Nuno Gomes (29).
Ronaldo before turning 30 notched 52 goals in 118 games for Portugal. Ronaldo after turning 30 has 49 goals in 47 games.
Father Time really is playing catch-up, it seems. Ronaldo totalled up to 101 against Sweden and he really is the ‘different’ animal he spoke of. He is one of a kind to be marvelled at while he still delivers when it matters most.
In more general terms, Ronaldo has scored 276 goals since turning 30. Two hundred and seventy five. A truly staggering goal haul.
At Real Madrid it was no surprise to see him end up with more than 50 for club and country in a campaign.
Even ‘slowing down’ with Juventus, he scored 37 in all competitions for the club last season as they claimed a ninth straight Serie A title.
Take his trophy haul. He has won five Champions League titles in his illustrious career.
Manchester United saw Ronaldo unlock his potential before Real Madrid took him even higher
Incredibly, three of those came after turning 30 and in each of them Ronaldo played a key role. Real Madrid knocked off Atletico Madrid in Milan, Juventus in Cardiff and Liverpool in Kiev.
He scored the winning penalty to crush Atletico in a penalty shootout, put Juventus to the sword with a brace in the 4-1 masterclass and while it was all about Gareth Bale in Kiev, Ronaldo was instrumental in reaching the final, without him they simply would not have made it.
He added the Euro 2016 title, the 2019 Nations League trophy, two Ballon d’Or awards, two FIFA Club World Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, two Serie A titles, an Italian Super Cup, a Spanish Super Cup and a host of other individual accolades.
At Manchester United part of the appeal of Ronaldo was the stepovers, the trickery, the moment of magic that had the Stretford End on its feet.
That is no longer his game, for while he has maintained his exceptional level of production, he has cleverly evolved his game. And after Juventus wrapped up their ninth successive Serie A title, Brazilian icon Pele paid a special nod of approval to the Portuguese.
Winning Euro 2016 was a sign of Ronaldo’s leadership skills and he has no desire to stop now
Back-to-back Serie A titles with Juventus sets a tone and he has eyes on another European Cup
He tweeted: ‘@Cristiano is the modern athlete, who shows everyone that success always comes to those who are dedicated and love what they do.’
Manchester United’s latest Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes could only fawn over his team-mate after his brace against Sweden on Tuesday. It is not just fans left speechless by what Ronaldo is still capable of producing.
‘We know that [with Ronaldo] it is easier to reach the goal,’ Fernandes said. ‘He has a nose for goal and can solve a game at any time.
‘That was what happened before half-time, in a free-kick situation. Just yesterday he had six or seven like that in training and today he did the same. It’s great to have Cristiano. He makes any team stronger.’
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