Dubai: Cristiano Ronaldo said he has no immediate plans to retire and vacate his pedestal in world football.
The 35-year-old Portugal and Juventus striker – who was presented with the ‘Player of the Century’ Award at Sunday’s glittering Dubai Globe Soccer Awards at the foot of the Burj Khalifa – indicated that he has at least two or three more years of top-notch football left in him.
Ronaldo has a huge fan following all over the world for his amazing control and appetite for goals from near impossible situations - but he also has his fair share of haters, “who like to boo Cristiano”.
“I like that. I want to be booed by people as that is what motivates me even more. These are unforgettable moments that keep me going. I will be 36 [on February 5] and day in and day out, I have always done what I have been doing for the past few years. I don’t plan to stop any time soon, not in the next two or three years. All this involves a lot of sacrifices and pain, but in the end it is all worth it,” Ronaldo told a select audience.
“We, the players, respect all the protocol and health is the most important thing of all, of course, but I don’t like playing in an empty stadium, to be honest. I do it first of all because I love football. My passion is always football. I play for my family, my kids, my friends, the fans. But I don’t like it, to be honest, it’s so weird,” he said.
“I like when people boo Cristiano. When I touch the ball, they ‘boo’. I like that. I hope in 2021 they can change the rules and we can see the stadiums full of people,” the Portuguese hoped.
Ronaldo is in a happy space heading into the new year. He scored the 750th goal of his astonishing career in Juventus’ 3-0 win against Dynamo Kyiv in the Uefa Champions League in the first week of December.
“750 goals, 750 happy moments, 750 smiles on the faces of our fans. Thanks to all the players and coaches who have helped me reach this incredible number, thanks to all my loyal opponents who have made me work harder and harder every day. Next stop: 800,” Ronaldo announced on his social media posts.
The majority of his goals have come in Spain where he scored 450 times for Real Madrid - followed by 118 goals for Manchester United, 102 for the Portugal national team, 75 for Juventus and five for Sporting Lisbon at the start of his career.
Now, he needs just seven goals to equal the world record of Iranian legend, Ali Daei, who is the top scoring player in men’s international football with 109 goals between 1993 and 2006.
He is also chasing several records at Euro 2020 that has been postponed by a year following the pandemic. If Ronaldo scores just one goal, he will become the top scorer in the tournament’s history (he is currently level with Michel Platini on nine), while also becoming the first person to play at five European Championships.
“For me, it is always a pleasure to beat all records. It is not easy to be at the top of the game for many, many years. I am really proud. But then, it is a job of the team and the coach and everyone else. These records are what I live for. After this, there will be another record and another new challenge before me,” Ronaldo said.
The Portugal star is now just 17 goals behind Pele and 22 behind Romario in the all-time charts. However, he still has some way to go in order to top Czech-Austrian forward Josef Bican, who has scored more than 800 goals in a career between 1928 to 1955.
Ronaldo will have at least 11 competitive games in 2021 in addition to a few friendlies to try and break the world record for goals.