Cris­tiano Ron­aldo is right at the top

The five­time Bal­lon d’or win­ner has had a stel­lar club ca­reer, win­ning a mul­ti­tude of tro­phies with Manch­ester United and then Real Madrid. He also played a huge part in Por­tu­gal win­ning EURO 2016. The 33­year­old has now set his sights on the World Cup.

Sportstar - - COVER STORY -

of the prized pos­ses­sions in the world of foot­ball to­day. And we have an in­ter­view with the big man. He has still not won a World Cup, but is not un­duly stressed about it.

With 15 goals in the FIFA qual­i­fiers, Cris­tiano Ron­aldo had en­sured Por­tu­gal an­other ap­pear­ance in the fi­nal phases of the World Cup. He had al­ready led his coun­try to its first EURO win in 2016. Rus­sia is go­ing to be the 33year­old foot­baller’s fourth and per­haps fi­nal at­tempt to lift the most cov­eted tro­phy.

You will be play­ing your fourth FIFA World Cup, a great achieve­ment for any foot­baller. What can we ex­pect from CR7 in Rus­sia?

We shall try our best to get favourable re­sults. But this is a World Cup and we are in a dif­fi­cult group with Spain, Iran and Morocco. The first tar­get will be to en­sure an en­try to the knock­out stage. Any­thing can hap­pen af­ter that.

Por­tu­gal is the reign­ing EURO cham­pion. Is the side one of the favourites to win the World Cup?

To be hon­est, it will be dif­fi­cult. We are not among the favourites. There are quite a few teams like de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Ger­many, Brazil, Spain and Ar­gentina. They have some very big names. But in foot­ball you can­not pre­dict. It all de­pends on the day’s per­for­mances. We shall be ready to prove our­selves.

Your first match in Rus­sia will be against Spain, a coun­try where you have been play­ing club foot­ball for Real Madrid since 2009. How dif­fi­cult will it be to play against your Madrid team­mates, es­pe­cially against your club­cap­tain Ser­gio Ramos?

Well, for those 90 min­utes, like me, Ser­gio too will for­get that Cris­tiano is his club­mate. He is a won­der­ful char­ac­ter and we re­main friends be­fore and af­ter those 90 min­utes. Not only Ser­gio, there will be quite a few play­ers who I know well. They also know me bet­ter than many other op­po­nents. Yes, it is go­ing to be a tough test for both the teams.

To start a World Cup with an Ibe­rian derby should be fas­ci­nat­ing for the fans...

Of course. Por­tu­gal and Spain have been eter­nal ri­vals on foot­ball fields and fans of both the coun­tries en­joy the ri­valry. At the mo­ment, we are ahead of them in FIFA rank­ings, but that will de­cide noth­ing. They have some great foot­ballers and are one of the favourites to lift the Cup. But it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for us to start the World Cup in the right man­ner when we know that we are fac­ing Spain in the very first match of the tour­na­ment. We all are ex­cited.

In 2014, Por­tu­gal had to start the World Cup with a match against Ger­many. You lost the match and the Ger­mans were the even­tual cham­pi­ons...

It will be a won­der­ful coin­ci­dence if that hap­pens once again and Spain lifts the Cup in the end. But that’s too dis­tant to think about at this junc­ture. True, in 2014 we were out­played by Ger­many in the open­ing match, but that will not be the case this time. We are a lot fit­ter and ea­ger now fol­low­ing our EURO tri­umph. The team has the right blend of ex­pe­ri­ence and youth. We shall be fight­ing till the last minute.

You re­cently said that you had won so many things that you did not have any more dreams. Is it true, es­pe­cially when the World Cup is still to be con­quered?

See, play­ing the World Cup is a dream for ev­ery pro­fes­sional foot­baller and I shall be play­ing my fourth in Rus­sia. It is some­thing I had never dreamt of when I started my ca­reer. To be hon­est, I had never thought that my ca­reer would be such a great one. I am for­tu­nate enough to have played for two of the best clubs in the world and won ev­ery tro­phy. Even with Por­tu­gal, we won the EURO, which was the first in­ter­na­tional tro­phy for the na­tion. Def­i­nitely, it would be great to add the World Cup. I would like to win the World Cup, of course. That’s why we want to par­tic­i­pate in a tour­na­ment, to win the cham­pion’s crown.

Are you obsessed with win­ning a World Cup win­ner’s medal?

Not re­ally. Life has taught me that if you are obsessed with any­thing, you can­not reach near it. You get some­thing only when the Almighty wishes so.

There is no point in pres­suris­ing your­self over any­thing. It does not help. But you have to do what you need to do. I have al­ways given my ev­ery­thing in prac­tice as well as in matches and I shall con­tinue do­ing that.

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