Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed the secret to the sturdiness of his career, pointing out that a willingness to study and adapt has been just as vital as talent in his exploits.
At 34 years old, the Portugal international forward suggests little sign of letting up his standards in what has been an amazing career, in which he has won 5 Ballons d’Or, scored 700 top-level goals and has netted an exceptional raft of trophies, together with 5 Champions League crowns.
Ronaldo’s experience started at Sporting CP, but it was at Manchester United where he virtually made his name – and he says that he would have been “an imbecile” if he failed to improve with the type of star around Old Trafford when he moved there.
He was once Asked via France Football how he grew to be such a prolific scorer whilst under the training of Sir Alex Ferguson, he replied: “By using my brain. If you’ve acquired a little intelligence, you look and take example from those who are doing things better than you.
“That’s what I did when I was in Manchester with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Rio Ferdinand… if you don’t learn from guys like that, you’re an imbecile.
“The goal isn’t to imitate but to take factors from those who are the best and adapt it to your very own personality. That’s what I did. I had some talent and I watched them.
“Sir Alex Ferguson also taught me a lot, and I realised I had the potential to score, not only dribble and pass. I started to think of being a complete player without any weakness. I ought to score with my proper foot, my left foot and my head. I’m strong and I’m quick.
“If you have this and a actual ethic and a good lifestyle, you can still do it at 34-and-a-half.”
Ronaldo added that the right mentality is absolutely essential to reach – and stay – at the top, giving an example of his ethic.
“We faced Lokomotiv Moscow, who refused to play and parked the bus in the front of their goal,” he said, reflecting back on the latest Champions League match Juve played against the Russians.
“It was hard to score. I didn’t do it and I was once frustrated at the end. That’s normal. The most important thing is that the team wins.
“But when I went again to the dressing room, I chilled out. After the match, I went to dinner with friends. I got home at 4 in the morning. I had a glass of iced water before bed. I slept until 10 then I had my breakfast.
“At 11, I went to work in the gym. If you don’t have that self-discipline every day, you can’t stay at the top for 15 years.”
Ronaldo, who also spoke of the importance of yoga and meditation in his life, revealed that his horizons have broadened over the years and he now takes example from those who have enjoyed success in different sports activities deep into their 30s, including former NBA megastar Michael Jordan.
“I’ve learned from him and all those who achieved excellence,” he said. “And I don’t just mean in sports.
“I like to read about the Noble Prize, on what humans have invented, generated, created, developed. The Nobel Prize for people like that, it’s like winning the Ballon d’Or for me,” he said. “I like to understand why they’ve invented something and how they did it. It’s important and it’s going to help me become even better.”