Juventus football star Cristiano Ronaldo has not shown any sign of retrogression in his football career; rather, he is getting better even at 34.
While most players of his vintage are playing at a lower level or have even retired, the Juventus star remains at the very pinnacle of his profession
If Cristiano Ronaldo were like other Ballon d’Or winners, he would have hung up his boots by now, like Marco van Basten, Michael Owen or Zinedine Zidane, perhaps after a spell in MLS, like Kaka.
But Cristiano Ronaldo is not like other Ballon d’Or winners.
Eleven years on from first being crowned the best player in the world, the Portugal international, who turned 34 on Tuesday, is showing no signs of slowing down.
At the end of 2019, he will once again be among the front-runners for football’s most celebrated individual prize, so impressive has his start been to life at Juventus, where record after record continues to tumble on his path towards immortality.
And while the debate over who is better – he or Lionel Messi – will go on forever, no one can question that Ronaldo is the most incredible athlete ever to grace the sport.
“The Portuguese star has the physical capacity of a 20-year-old player,” AS claimed after his move to Juve from Real Madrid, citing his seven per cent body fat and muscle mass of 50%, with both figures significantly superior to those of the average footballer.
The stats ran nicely alongside quotes from his unveiling in Turin, where he said: “I’m here because it’s a very big challenge in my career. At my age, players usually go to China.
I’m different from everyone else, from all the players who are 32, 33 or 34 years old.”
Ronaldo set about separating himself from his peers very early in his career. His dedication to being in peak, physical condition is by no means a reaction to him reaching – what most footballers would call – the latter years of his career. He has long been obsessed with his fitness.
“He was the first person I saw employing a nutritionist, a doctor, a personal physio, a chef,” Rio Ferdinand, his former Manchester United team-mate, told ITV. “He invested in himself to become the best in the world.”
The advice from physical fitness experts complements Ronaldo’s unrivalled motivation, something which Carlos Queiroz, Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant, colourfully illustrated.
“I was once in my office at Carrington and saw something moving in the trees far away,” he told the National. “Maybe it was a spy. I called security and asked him. He came back to me and said: ‘It’s Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s training alone’. He was unique.
“It was very rare to see in a young player so much talent and such a strong personality, purpose and commitment. I read about Arnold Schwarzenegger learning to dance the tango. He was obsessed to be a perfectionist. Cristiano is the same.”
It’s one thing to be a talented footballer, but it’s another thing to fulfil, and even exceed, your potential.
For Ronaldo, his mental attributes arguably exceed his technical attributes, allowing him to keep up with Messi, a player certainly more naturally talented than the Portuguese.
But as he has said before, the Juventus star is not concerned with how the Argentine gets on.