Cristiano Ronaldo believes he is physically capable of playing at the highest level for another five years after making history with Portugal on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old sent another record tumbling at the Estadio Algarve by becoming the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s international football, surpassing Ali Daei’s previous high of 109.
Ronaldo scored a pair of late headers to bring Portugal from behind in a World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland and secure a 2-1 win, taking his tally for his country to 111 goals in the process.
Despite turning 37 later this season, Ronaldo, who completed a return to Manchester United from Juventus this week, still believes he can continue to shine into his 40s.
“I don’t know what records are left. But what I want the most is to keep playing. I feel motivated and still have the strength to be able to put on a show for another three, four, five years,” Ronaldo told Sport TV.
He added to TNT Brasil: “It was a record I really wanted to break. After missing the penalty, I was a little sad for 10 minutes. But that’s what football is about. We have to believe until the end.
“The fans helped us a lot but the work of the team that believed prevails in the end.”
Ronaldo was shown a yellow card for removing his shirt when celebrating his second goal, which came in the 96th minute, and will consequently miss Tuesday’s meeting with Azerbaijan through suspension.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner failed to convert a first-half penalty and admitted the ban looming over him had slipped his mind as he wheeled away to celebrate at the end of an historic outing.
“I forgot. It’s the emotion of the game,” said Ronaldo. “Maybe the coach will give me a hard time, but it doesn’t matter. The important thing was to help the team. I’m sorry, but the emotions speak louder.”
Portugal are scheduled to take on Qatar in a friendly on Saturday and Fernando Santos could decide to release Ronaldo from the team early due to his suspension.
“We’ll decide whether Ronaldo stays or leave. We have 24, 25 players. He won’t go to Azerbaijan, it doesn’t make sense,” said Santos, who compared the United attacker to another Portugal great in an interview with RTP after the match.
He said: “Ronaldo has always done this. Great players I like that when games sometimes don’t seem to be going well.
“Many years ago there was a coach called Jimmy Hagan [the Benfica boss when Santos was a youth player there]. I once asked him ‘Why doesn’t Eusebio go off when he isn’t playing well?’
“And then when he’s needed, where was Eusebio? This is what the great players do. They may not be doing well, but they show up with everything they have and solve games.”
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) September 1, 2021
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