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.
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.